How globalization can help fight coronavirus : The Indicator from Planet Money Globalization and urbanization historically have made the global economy more productive and efficient — and also more vulnerable to pandemics. But now they can be forces for good in the fight against disease.

Disease In A Globalized World

Disease In A Globalized World

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
-/AFP via Getty Images
World Health Organization  Health Emergencies Programme Director Michael Ryan, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Technical Lead Maria Van Kerkhove attending a WHO virtual news briefing on COVID-19. (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
-/AFP via Getty Images

Globalization has played a strange role in the cycle of pandemics. At first, it made the world more vulnerable to infectious disease. Then, in the nineteenth century, it fueled lifesaving advances in medicine. And those advances, in turn, accelerated globalization further and made the world more and more vulnerable to pandemics like coronavirus.

So, should we give up on globalization? Trade less, travel less, become less interconnected?

Today on the show, we talk to Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. He's finishing up a book on the past and future of infectious disease. And one of the most provocative arguments in his book is that instead of trying to reverse globalization, the world should actually embrace it as a powerful force in fighting against infectious diseases.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter / Facebook / Newsletter.

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.