By Russell Bruce
The New York Times has released a video detailing how the US invested 2 billion dollars in an international effort to identify and combat the spread of viruses. The US Center of Disease Control (CDC) was instrumental in the drive to enable the early identification of any new virus strain, track its movement across borders and establish a swift track and test capacity.
That was 15 years ago and became a model some others, especially Asian Pacific countries, have followed creating their own national Centers for Disease Control modeled on the US institution. They simply do not understand what has gone wrong in the US and how Trump has sidelined the CDC which he continues to lash out at every day.
The programme was launched in the wake of Avian Flu and mounting piles of dead chicken. The danger of a virus that might affect humans was understood. The surprise is the initiative was launched by another Republican President – none other than George W. Bush in 2005.
Bush’s announcement led to the establishment of PROTECT in 2009 “The U.S. C.D.C. has been the leading public health institution in the world, bar none,” said Dr. Sangwoo Tak an American epidemiologist and C.D.C. veteran.
Korea mass produced Covid tests before the virus became a pandemic using the US PREDICT handbook.
Failure of political leadership
Dennis Carroll was the man behind PREDICT and here is what he said about all the possible scenarios they considered:
“In the years that we ran simulations, we imagined every possible scenario of what type of virus, where it might emerge, how it might be transmitted, what would make it challenging to control — civil war, civil disruption. The one factor we never entered into those simulations as a variable was leadership.
“And it never occurred to any of us our political leadership would fail us so miserably.”
Asian countries perhaps are more familiar with the risk of pandemics but the US understood 15 years ago that they needed to prepare and share the work to reduce the risk of future pandemics. Trump doesn’t listen to advisers offering cautionary advice and it is Americans that are suffering the consequences.
The UK government was also over slow in taking action despite warnings as far back as 2013. The Johnson government has been obsessed with Brexit to the exclusion of all other matters. Scotland which does not have the strings to the main purse has had to wait too often for Boris to get a handle on how serious a threat Covid posed to the people of these islands.
Click this link to watch the New York Times video. Well worth watching.
The images in this article use screen shots from The New York Times video as adapted by Newsnet graphics.