Why No Pandemic Response Investigation?

The news that the Covid-19 vaccination for children under 12 may be approved the first week of November was greeted with joy in our family. Thanks to that we are feeling pretty sure that well before Thanksgiving all members of our family will have been vaccinated. Thus the threat of a severe Covid infection and possible death will be greatly lessened. That will give us a chance to move a little bit away from that sword of Damocles that has been hanging over our heads.

Knowing that the Biden Administration has been prepared to distribute vaccines for a couple of weeks once the OK is given helps also. I believe we can expect all children in our family to be among the early vaccinated. Planning and preparation should lead to a successful roll out. These vaccines and their counterparts for adults have been shown to be extremely effective and safe. 

Planning and preparation are the keys to keeping illnesses and deaths in time of pandemic to low numbers. Last week Dr. Deborah Birx, who was a member of the Trump pandemic response team estimated that the very poorly implemented Trump response has been responsible for as much as 130,000 needless deaths in the US.  

Others have put the number that died needlessly much, much higher.

This brings up a big question. The US had protocols to deal with a possible pandemic. These protocols were implemented for the Ebola scare during the Obama administration. While Republicans freaked out and screamed predictions of massive numbers of dead, the Obama Administration followed the protocols, moved swiftly, isolated cases and did thorough contact tracing follow ups. The result were 11 total cases, only 2 of which were contract in the US and no deaths.  

Certainly Covid is much more contagious than ebola is, yet given a chance, ebola could have turned into a major disaster. Response was the key to keeping the disease from spreading. Hospitals had the proper equipment, personnel, training and facilities. Contrast that with the response of the Trump Administration.

According to various news media reports, response was muted for many reasons. These included for such reasons as a belief that mostly Democrats were dying from Covid, so this could aid the Republicans in the presidential election; private enterprise was given a chance to make some big money of selling PPE and there was a concern that a crisis pandemic could hurt Trump’s re-election.

Among many of the other reasons that response was so bad was the push in the administration to get businesses reopened to make it seem like there was no pandemic going on. As other decisions, this decision was made to help Trump’s reelection chances. Protocols were totally ignored in order to advance Trump’s re-election.

You may agree or disagree with that assessment. This pandemic has killed at least 750,000 Americans in about 20 months. I can’t remember all the numbers this surpasses, but I believe one of those records is that this is more Americans than have been killed in all our wars. The 750,000 figure is probably a very low count since reports from several states are not reliable.

Why, oh why is there not some congressional committee, some independent counsel with subpoena power, some group with power – not investigating what is the single biggest tragedy in our history so that these failings are never repeated? We should be all over this, yet we hear little.

In Brazil there are loud calls for the removal of Jair Bolsonaro as he is being charged with crimes against humanity for his similar response in his country. The man responsible for our disastrous response is not only NOT being similarly charged, he is running for president again. After what he caused to happen?

In the aftermath of the disaster that Trump left for Biden one of the worst legacies is a sizable number of people, especially of people in positions of power, who are doing all they can to keep the pandemic going only for political reasons. I am looking at you, Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Republican Party. This makes recovery spotty at best.

I am particularly surprised that businesses are not pushing for mandatory vaccinations harder. An unstable business climate has to make planning, hiring and simply running a business very hard, not to mention the costs of higher insurances and the costs of absences. 

In an article at dailykos.com this week many of these problems were highlighted:  

“When most people think about the future of COVID-19 in the United States, they’re unlikely to think about this: orphanages.

“People don’t remember the world as it was a hundred years ago,” said Yaneer Bar-Yam. “To live in that world, a world where orphans are common, and children dying is common, and the destruction of society is ongoing because of disease, is very hard for people to imagine.”

<< snip >>

“I lost an uncle to scarlet fever,” said Bar-Yam, “and a grandfather to typhus. That wasn’t that long ago.” The modern expectation is that you can live your life without concern over contagious disease. People don’t worry about getting cholera from a glass of water or think about polio when they jump into the community pool. “What they know is this promise that they see from TV commercials. That you can take a trip, enjoy the beach, and come home—all without worrying that you pick up a virus and die from it.”

During the pandemic, the United States has already slid backward toward that plagued past. At least 1 in 500 children in the United States have lost a caregiver. However, as the daily toll of cases declines, many people—and dozens of editorials and news articles—seem to be advocating that endemic COVID-19 is inevitable and acceptable. What they don’t explain is the consequences.

“One of the pieces of the picture being put forward is that the disease somehow becomes milder,” said Bar-Yam. “They didn’t become milder a hundred years ago. This disease has all of the qualities of a disease that becomes more severe over time rather than milder. We’ve seen that through several generations of variants.”

To conquer this disease, we must work together. That means we mask, we all get vaccinated now and for whatever comes along. And those who refuse will need to be pushed to society’s edges so the rest can survive. Don’t forget that we will be fighting this in a world of severe climate change where viral diseases may be amplified.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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