by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
For several decades, health experts have warned about the potential for an infectious pandemic sweeping the globe. After the Spanish flu ravaged the globe in 1917–18, resulting in upwards of 50 million deaths worldwide, the countries of the world tried to stay vigilant. The death of 675,000 Americans alone in that pandemic left a deep imprint on the American psyche through the middle of the 20th century.
Over the years, multiple epidemics have hit the world, with varying degrees of severity. …
… The COVID-19 virus showed that even with those numerous frightening warnings, we were not ready for this eventuality. The ultimate verdict was that we failed as a species to protect our own.
The failure did not originate with the American government establishment, however. China failed the world community by not being honest and transparent from the very beginning. After the SARS outbreak, China had promised the world, especially the World Health Organization (WHO), that it would provide full transparency in the event of future outbreaks.
They clearly broke their promise. …
… But knowing what we know now, what are some steps we can take the next time we are confronted with such a threat?
First, we must somehow get rid of many of our current biases within government, the medical community, and the public-health sector. There are many examples of this. Maybe most apparent is our reluctance to call for the institution of travel bans and regional and national quarantines. Simply put, in this instance that bias resulted in a grave mistake. More and more evidence shows that early travel restrictions in Asia and Europe clearly decreased the damage caused by the first wave of the pandemic. …
… A system of constant re-analysis of stockpile quantities and potential health-sector requirements by some central federal authority is essential to ensure preparedness.