Although far from over, the COVID-19 pandemic has already provided important lessons. From the public health point of view, perhaps the most important one is that the best service a government can give its citizens — and to the rest of the world — is to never ignore, dismiss or hide the extent of an infectious disease outbreak, because it has the potential of becoming an epidemic or even a pandemic that will spread throughout most countries in the world.

Sound information is essential in controlling an epidemic effectively. The backbone of public health policies and actions entails accurate and reliable statistics about the number of cases and their location. When a viral infection evolves in a way that seems ominous from the beginning, the moral responsibility of all governments is to make this information widely known so that adequate measures of protection can be taken at the global level.

Further, it is important to convey such information through the World Health Organization, where all governments (including the United States) are represented, to insure the formulation of adequate policies. Delay in conveying this information has been costly in the fight against COVID-19, allowing the pandemic to progress at a vertiginous pace and causing an unnecessary loss of lives.