The Emerging Infectious Disease Industry, Thanks To COVID

I saw this snippet of the credit reel from an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

So, 14 people were employed to manage one infectious disease for one TV program? Maybe they work for HBO and work on other programs too.

I think the classes needed for a public health degree will be changing since I was in school. And if students are paying to be taught about infectious disease protocol and expecting to land a job after graduation in infectious disease protocol then I’m thinking a whole infectious disease protocol industry will emerge.

If society welcomes an industry that protects people from infectious/communicable disease, would they welcome an industry that protects people from noncommunicable disease (our leading cause of death)? An industry where, as in the example above, students landed jobs outside of the typical government-run or non-profit public health sector and with privately-run entertainment or tech companies? Where their sole purpose was to prevent people from getting diabetes or cancer or having strokes and heart attacks?

Would we welcome a Heart Disease Compliance Specialist that conducts weekly weigh-ins and does spot-checks to monitor what someone was eating? OK, I’m not being serious. But in another way, I am …

Telling a person to wear a mask and social distance is easier than restructuring cities so people can walk in safety, breath clean air, and drink clean water (regulating industries that pollute). Reformulating the food landscape so it offered, as the default, minimally-processed, non-chemical-laden, affordable meals is difficult. But these are things that would need to be done to protect against noncommunicable disease. (Diet, exercise, and pollution are, after all, some of the leading controllable risk factors.)

The leading causes of death in this country are from non-communicable causes like heart disease and cancer. Would that we would rise to the task of defeating them.

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