The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated just about every aspect of our lives throughout 2020. With hope on the horizon and vaccines rolling out, there are constant warnings that extreme caution will still be necessary in the days and months ahead. And there are plenty of lessons to learn, as well, from the missteps and mistakes of the past year.

Both Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine and the medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center, described the events of the year as deeply humbling when they spoke to Jim Braude on Greater Boston.

“I certainly think about all the mistakes I have made along the way — things I misunderstood,” Jha said. “[The experience] has also reminded me about the importance of communication. I think we are … a country that really has been torn apart by our political leaders … I used to naively believe that public health was, you figure out what the right answer is, you communicate to people and it all works out. It turns out it doesn’t always work out. There’s a lot of work to be done around rebuilding trust. I remain incredibly hopeful about the future, but there [are] some hard lessons we have to learn from 2020 about how to do this better in the future.”

“It’s been an exhausting year as a healthcare worker,” Bhadelia said. “It’s going to take a while to recover, not just for our communities, but for our healthcare workers as well … My hope is that being decimated like this — and we are being decimated by this pandemic — that we are going to take this opportunity to build back stronger so that the next threat does not find us so unprepared.”