PictureLarry Brilliant at Spotlight Health Aspen Ideas Festival 2015. Photo by Lane Rasberry, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

Most of us have spent the past several weeks processing reams of information about COVID-19, a virus that appears to have caught leaders across the globe flat-footed and steamrolled its way into becoming a global pandemic.

Larry Brilliant, your aptly monikered neighbor here In Mill Valley, was not among them.

The longtime, renowned epidemiologist worked with the World Health Organization to end smallpox, and has also been involved in the fight against fought flu, polio and blindness, among other impressive pursuits. He also served as the senior technical advisor on the pandemic horror film Contagion, which has enjoyed a massive streaming resurgence amidst coronavirus. He calls COVID-19 “the most dangerous pandemic in our lifetime.”

So while Brilliant isn’t an “I told you so kind of guy,” he certainly could be forgiven if he was. Wired magazine checked in with Brilliant to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, and specifically a TED Talk  he gave in 2006 in which he described the next pandemic as one where “a billion people would get sick. As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3 trillion would be far worse for everyone than merely 100 million people dying, because so many more people would lose their jobs and their health care benefits, that the consequences are almost unthinkable.”

Ruminate on that for a minute.

Read Steven Levy’s interview with Brilliant here.

And if you see Larry around town, say hi and thank him for his work!

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