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World Association of International Studies

Post COVID-19: What Did the US Authorities Get Wrong?
Created by John Eipper on 07/07/20 2:30 PM

Previous posts in this discussion:


COVID-19: What Did the US Authorities Get Wrong? (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 07/07/20 2:30 pm)

I agree with Gary Moore's opinion (July 6th) that we will never know how much or how little benefit would have been derived from the Obama-era office and the playbook addressing health threats, because both items were dismantled or totally ignored by the Trump administration. Nevertheless, such dismissive actions are at least symbolic of the lack of respect for a virus which has already killed 130,000 Americans, from the beginning of this health crisis.

However, Gary ignored the rest of my post regarding the many reasons why our beloved nation is the worst responder among nations. Rather, he just doubled down: "The reasons we were woefully unprepared to meet Covid-19 are still confusingly buried, and the difficulty of getting to them is generally avoided as being just too darned obscure to ask about. Instead, confrontation with our ignorance is comfortingly deflected into shrill shouts of blame. It's not that there wasn't a screw-up. But exactly what screwed up--in terms of what needs to be ready and agile next time?"

Here is some more shouting. For next time, we need to at least try as hard as we can to:

1. Listen to our own early intelligence warning that an epidemic is coming.

2. Not have political leaders dismiss the seriousness of the threat with false statements like "we will have very few cases" and "the virus will go away by spring."

3. Not have political leaders prescribing voodoo treatments for the pandemic.

4. Not have political leaders set up a media circus in lieu of a healthcare advice source.

5. Not have political leaders contradict health care experts, thus politicizing our effort to fight the virus.

6. Not have national political leaders shirk their responsibilities to integrate the national effort.

The list is much longer, but one should get a good idea why the resulting evidence (provided in my earlier post) shows our poor national performance. We know very well why and how we screwed up our response to this pandemic.

JE comments:  Just as nations prepare to fight the previous war, we now know what we'll see when the next pandemic comes.  And if it turns out to be very minor, then we can also predict how we'll respond to the one after that--inadequately, as we did now.

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  • In a Pandemic, Politics Must be Removed from the Decision-Making Process (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 07/11/20 3:43 AM)
    As usual, I very much enjoyed Tor Guimaraes's post (July 7th) listing what I would call the "6 Commandments" to remove Trump and political leaders from the decision-making process that such a pandemic requires. We all have seen multiple violations by Trump himself and political leaders that resulted in large numbers of people getting seriously ill and eventually dying.

    Furthermore, we have the "honor" of having the world's largest numbers of infections and deaths.

    Again, I congratulate Tor for his analysis.

    JE comments: Rodolfo, what do you hear from your colleagues in the medical community in Argentina? I have not seen much in the news on how that country is faring during the pandemic, but it shares a long border with Brazil, which now has the #2 spot in cases behind the US.  President Bolsonaro, long an opponent of "masking up," has now tested positive.

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    • Argentina and Brazil in Coronavirus Times (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 07/14/20 4:40 AM)
      John E asked about the pandemic situation in Argentina and Brazil.

      Both countries are part of Latin America, where to different degrees, everything have been disrupted by the virus affecting every aspect of life--the economy, business, health care and what is worse, it is killing thousands. The biggest impact has been on the poor.

      To make things worse, in this part of the world, people live by their own rules and codes of conduct rather than those of the rest of the world. It is an attitude in which it is fine to break the rules they do not like, thinking that they can get away with it.  Therefore it is difficult to organize collective efforts like the ones the current pandemic requires.

      Argentina has had 100,000 cases with 1845 deaths, mainly in the province of Buenos Aires in areas where income, living conditions, and access to health care are not good enough.  The government has been more cautious in relaxing lockdowns in business and schools. However, attempts to return to normal have resulted in an increase in the numbers of cases and have required going back to the previous restrictions.

      Brazil: cases 1,900,000. Deaths: over 72,234.

      Here, the situation is much worse due to several factors, such as the size of the country and distances, making access to health care difficult. Brazil has a large population--210 million--and massive inequalities in income and living conditions. In addition, President Bolsonaro is constantly minimizing the pandemic, inciting the people to violate the recommendations of health care officials. This has resulted in the resignation of at least three health care ministers. Furthermore, he is trying to copy Donald Trump's behavior with his suggestions of unproven treatments, forgetting that those who copy others never become the person they are trying to copy. It is altogether a complicated environment.

      I hope that my comments help WAISers understand the context.

      JE comments:  Brazil has five times the population of Argentina, but its Covid cases and deaths are ten to twenty times higher.  Rodolfo, in your medical opinion, is this primarily due to Argentina's stricter lockdown/quarantine protocols?  To widen our analysis, let's look at Chile, which has less than half of Argentina's population and three times the Covid cases.  It is also wealthier in GDP per capita than the other two nations.  Chile has now claimed the dubious #6 spot in total number of Covid cases, with by far the smallest total population among the top 20.  What's going on?


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  • How Did the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board Fail? (From Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 07/13/20 3:58 AM)

    Gary Moore writes:

    In September 2019, on the very brink of disaster, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, founded by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, sent out a largely unnoticed cry of warning. And yet, prophetic as this might seem, the real bombshell was not the preparedness board's 48-page report, but consisted of what that report did not contain.

    "The world is not ready," the board cried, in essence, "to face a new pandemic." Just two months before the first mysterious case of "unknown pneumonia" was registered, the board's worldwide panel of learned experts was tolling the bell, saying: "For too long, we have allowed a cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to pandemics." Bemoaned was the lack of readiness in the global community, the blithe complacency.

    But an independent think tank pointed out the irony: the board's experts, in best United-Nations-affiliation style, went on for 48 pages without many specifics. Instead of a blueprint, here was an august abstraction. The report "doesn't spell out key targets for government investments...More specifics are needed," noted the preparedness think tank, called CIDRAP. In other words, one might plow forever through the 48 pages without tripping over such concretes as "testing," "contact tracing," or "lockdown"--just for starters. Here was one more reminder, soon forgotten like many others, that whatever the nature of the mental pandemic was that kept the world paralyzed on the eve of disaster, it seemed to be quite large.

    JE comments:  Read the report below.  Skimming the Executive Summary, one sees a call for seven "urgent" actions.  Problem is, they're platitudes, like "commit and invest," "lead by example," and "build strong systems."

    The report is both prophetic and a sad example of missed opportunity.  Here's a certainty:  the GPMB will have lots to talk about in its 2020 report.


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