No link, just a thought about where we are today and should be tomorrow.
There is little debate that we were, and probably still are, woefully unprepared for a serious pandemic. Whether one supports the administration’s efforts or criticizes them, they are the present results of a decade’s long policy of relegating the biggest threat to our national health and economy: Pandemics.
Even the belief that we “are doing the best we can” is really just an unvoiced lament that we should have been better prepared in the first place.
This goes back several administrations. We can argue about teams that may or may not have been more attuned to developments, but the reality is that they all were given less priority than many other policies or programs.
In the last decades we have built the strongest military and a robust economy with borrowed money. Some to fund endless, almost futile, wars, some to avoid a severe financial collapse then recover, and most recently to artificially boost an already healthy economy and expand our military even more.
Yet, we have not prepared for the biggest threat that we and the rest of the world can face. The warnings have been sounded over and over by people in the health business, members of various administrations and even small divisions in our vast military industrial complex.
Well, that train left the depot long ago. My hope is that this pandemic will be a wake up call. That we will start funding a biodefense organization with serious and forward thinking professionals. That labs for epidemiological will receive the respect, stature and, if warranted, funding that aircraft carriers get today. The we can stockpile equipment and storage capable supplies on a grand scale for loans to hospitals when needed. Even perhaps build “viral bases”, like military bases, where basic structures are built and can be quickly converted to regional health facilities for quarantine and treatment.
I believe the cost will be significant but a not nearly the expense of the trillions we continue to borrow to spend now. And, more significantly, the many trillions we are poised to borrow today.
In addition, this effort needs to be coordinated internationally. Nationalism does not impress a virus. When it spreads it makes little difference where it came from. We post military units in almost every nation in the world. Let’s do the same with sophisticated epidemic teams and labs.
This little opinion is not original. Bill Gates’ TED talks of 5 years ago discussed the same issues. I thought, however, that repeating this often enough in even the tiniest of venues might result in a few less missiles and more laboratories.