breaking news
  • India, Canada agree to increase discussions on movement of skilled professionals, students
  • Teens Killed In Crash: Roslyn Man Accused Of Driving Drunk, Wrong Way, Fleeing Scene In Jericho
  • George Santos in custody, federal indictment unsealed ahead of first court appearance
  • Australia to focus on strong ties with India, Japan in biggest defence reform
  • Joe Biden, his deputy Kamala Harris launch re-election bid for 2024 US polls
  • Gujarat High Court Judge Opts Out Of Hearing Rahul Gandhi's Appeal

View Details

The unnecessary price of Covid-19

According to a new report, half a million Americans may have died unnecessarily of Covid-19. At the same time, the US government spent trillions to deal with the pandemic when better preparedness could have saved many lives and much money. American schools were also closed for many months unnecessarily, with students paying the price.The report, “Lessons from the Covid War,” by the Covid Crisis Group, is being published as a 347-page book Tuesday. It will likely stand as the most authoritative account of American policy failures and successes during the war against Covid-19.
The report makes for sobering reading, concluding that “no country’s performance was more disappointing than the United States.” The group came to that conclusion because, despite the great depth of scientific knowledge in the United States, American “excess deaths” during the pandemic were about 40% higher than the European death rate.
If the US had had a similar rate to Europe by the end of 2022, “probably” at least half a million Americans wouldn’t have died, according to the report. That’s a big number. The federal government also deployed $5 trillion to deal with the consequences of the pandemic. That is also a big number.
So how did the US get into this mess? Given America’s hyper-partisanship, just about everything about the Covid-19 pandemic was deeply politicized – from the precise origins of the coronavirus in China, to lockdowns, mask-wearing, school closures, vaccines, and the best drugs for treatment.
As a result, there has been scant official reckoning over how the government fared during the pandemic and what lessons might be learned for the inevitable next pandemic.
A 2022 bipartisan bill seeking to establish a National Covid Commission never made it to the floor for a vote in the US Congress. This is astonishing when you consider that more Americans have died of Covid – around 1.1 million so far – than all the Americans who died in every US war going back to the American Revolution.So, without a congressionally mandated inquiry like the 9/11 Commission, 34 American public health experts, physicians, and other policy experts decided to investigate what went right and wrong during the pandemic.
Starting their work in early 2021, the non-partisan Covid Crisis Group conducted “listening sessions” with 274 people who had played some role in responding to the pandemic or had been affected by it. The group was directed by Philp Zelikow, a leading historian and former senior State Department official in the George W. Bush administration who had also served as the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, which had set the gold standard for how to conduct a comprehensive examination of a major catastrophe and the lessons that could be learned from it. Other members of the Covid Crisis Group included Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota who had been publicly warning of the emergence of a global pandemic for a decade and a half before Covid-19 first emerged; Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Hamburg, the former Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration and Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, former chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health.
The report examines both the “lab leak” theory that the coronavirus accidentally escaped from a research lab in Wuhan, China, and the natural transmission theory that the virus moved from a wild animal into humans.
By Peter Bergen