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The Contagion Next Time$
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Sandro Galea

Print publication date: 2022

Print ISBN-13: 9780197576427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197576427.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 January 2022



(p.121) 7 Compassion
The Contagion Next Time

Sandro Galea

Oxford University Press

This chapter evaluates the central role of compassion in preventing the contagion next time. During COVID-19, compassion revealed just how many people in the United States are deeply vulnerable to poor health. This vulnerability was often a product of underlying health conditions. There are many health challenges in the United States which annually generate a level of mortality comparable to that of COVID-19, challenges like obesity and addiction. However, America have not addressed these challenges with anywhere near the level of urgency they brought to bear in addressing COVID-19. A key reason why is, arguably, because these challenges are not infectious, making it possible for the public at large to escape the visceral feeling of vulnerability to a disease which transmits through the air and can strike anybody. Instead, they see these challenges somehow as niche issues, the niche being the lives of the marginalized and disadvantaged groups. This outlook allows them to evade the feeling of common humanity which gives rise to compassion. Compassion, then, depends on the understanding of the true nature of health and of the shared vulnerability to disease.

Keywords:   compassion, COVID-19, United States, poor health, vulnerable people, disease, marginalized groups, disadvantaged groups, common humanity, health

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