Alan W. Dowd is a Senior Fellow with the American Security Council Foundation, where he writes on the full range of topics relating to national defense, foreign policy and international security. Dowd’s commentaries and essays have appeared in Policy Review, Parameters, Military Officer, The American Legion Magazine, The Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, The Claremont Review of Books, World Politics Review, The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Jerusalem Post, The Financial Times Deutschland, The Washington Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Examiner, The Detroit News, The Sacramento Bee, The Vancouver Sun, The National Post, The Landing Zone, Current, The World & I, The American Enterprise, Fraser Forum, American Outlook, The American and the online editions of Weekly Standard, National Review and American Interest. Beyond his work in opinion journalism, Dowd has served as an adjunct professor and university lecturer; congressional aide; and administrator, researcher and writer at leading think tanks, including the Hudson Institute, Sagamore Institute and Fraser Institute. An award-winning writer, Dowd has been interviewed by Fox News Channel, Cox News Service, The Washington Times, The National Post, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and numerous radio programs across North America. In addition, his work has been quoted by and/or reprinted in The Guardian, CBS News, BBC News and the Council on Foreign Relations. Dowd holds degrees from Butler University and Indiana University. Follow him at


Scott Tilley is a Senior Fellow at the American Security Council Foundation, where he writes the “Technical Power” column, focusing on the societal and national security implications of advanced technology in cybersecurity, space, and foreign relations.

He is an emeritus professor at the Florida Institute of Technology. Previously, he was with the University of California, Riverside, Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, and IBM. His research and teaching were in the areas of computer science, software & systems engineering, educational technology, the design of communication, and business information systems.

He is president and founder of the Center for Technology & Society, president and co-founder of Big Data Florida, past president of INCOSE Space Coast, and a Space Coast Writers’ Guild Fellow.

He has authored over 150 academic papers and has published 28 books (technical and non-technical), most recently Systems Analysis & Design (Cengage, 2020), SPACE (Anthology Alliance, 2019), and Technical Justice (CTS Press, 2019). He wrote the “Technology Today” column for FLORIDA TODAY from 2010 to 2018.

He is a popular public speaker, having delivered numerous keynote presentations and “Tech Talks” for a general audience. Recent examples include the role of big data in the space program, a four-part series on machine learning, and a four-part series on fake news.

He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Victoria (1995).

Contact him at

The Next Pandemic - Are we prepared?

Friday, April 30, 2021

Categories: Technical Power

Comments: 0

By Scott Tilley - ASCF Senior Fellow

April, 2021

FILE - Small bottles labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration photo taken Apr. 10, 2020 - Reuters

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many shortcomings in our national infrastructure. There have been issues with public health policy, supply chain management, and long-term care homes. The underlying question is what we’ve learned from this experience and how it will help us deal with the next pandemic – which is a certainty.

The striking similarities between COVID-19 and the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 highlight how little society has learned in over one hundred years. Our modern response to COVID-19 has not been very different from the Great Pestilence of 1348, where the primary response was physical isolation – which we now call social distancing. How is it possible that we’ve not acquired new skills to cope with pandemics over all this time?

Our exit from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the development of potent vaccines. This is one thing we didn’t have in the past. In particular, the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have proven to be very effective. However, they are not without some side effects. I had the Pfizer jab, with a second shot three weeks later. I’m still suffering from terrible fatigue, which I attribute to the robust immune response the vaccine creates in your body, particularly in people with severe underlying health conditions (e.g., I have Type 1 diabetes).

There has been a development of “vaccine nationalism” across the world. This is driven by a lack of manufacturing capacity in many countries and a shortage of raw vaccine ingredients. For example, Canada can no longer can manufacture their own vaccine, so they are forced to import all its supplies from Europe. The largest manufacturer of vaccines is India. Even they are now experiencing the worst outbreak of COVID-19 anywhere, with more than 350,000 new cases every day and hospitals full and running out of basic supplies like oxygen. The scenes from their major cities are heartbreaking.

All of this leads to the question of preparedness for the next pandemic. This is not only a public health issue but also a question of national security. As bad as COVID-19 has been, it could have been much worse. A more virulent strain of the virus would have affected more of the population. The economy would have taken a harder hit. The societal implications would have been far more serious.

The origins of the SARS-COV-2 virus that are the source of COVID-19 are still the subject of discussion, but there’s little doubt that a manufactured version of a similar coronavirus would be a global disaster. Do we have the biological defenses in place to defend against such an outbrea