What would it look like if the devastating Spanish flu crisis of 1918 hit today? That was the question that public health experts and thought leaders came together to address at this week’s “The Next Pandemic” symposium, organized in collaboration with Smithsonian Media, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

On the one hand, today’s public health landscape looks nothing like 1918—thanks in part to the continued reverberations of that fateful year. The waves of influenza that claimed the lives of anywhere between 50 and 100 million people ushered in a new era of public health and epidemiology. Today we have a seasonal flu vaccine, as well as the capacity to develop new vaccines within six months of identifying novel strains. We have international disease reporting and surveillance networks to ensure that a disaster on that scale never happens again.