How the United States Government Failed to Prepare for the Global Pandemic
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On March 20, just after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic on March 11, the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) sent a cable to U.S. State Department instructing officials how they should speak about China and the novel coronavirus, according to the Daily Beast, which obtained the cable. One section of the cable is called “NSC Top Lines: PRC [People’s Republic of China] Propaganda and Disinformation on the Wuhan Virus Pandemic.” The cable says, “Chinese Communist Party officials in Wuhan and Beijing had a special responsibility to inform the Chinese people and the world of the threat, since they were the first to learn of it.” Instead, U.S. officials were instructed by the cable to contend, the Chinese government “hid news of the virus from its own people for weeks, while suppressing information and punishing doctors and journalists who raised the alarm. The Party cared more about its reputation than its own people’s suffering.” The cable suggests the NSC instructed U.S. officials to trumpet this narrative, and to say instead that the United States must be thanked for its “extraordinary humanitarianism.” “The United States and the American people are demonstrating once again that they are the greatest humanitarians the world has ever known,” the cable continued.
There were two immediate reasons for the U.S. to blame China for the novel coronavirus global pandemic. First, it was a convenient way to divert attention from the fact that the U.S. government had done nothing—despite months of notice—to effectively prepare for the arrival of the virus. Second, it was a necessary way to undermine the remarkable way China had been able to tackle the epidemic, with massive infusions of personnel and equipment as well as relief into Wuhan and Hubei province. U.S. President Donald Trump’s attack on China is explained not as the rant of an unstable individual, but as part and parcel of the agenda of the U.S. government to displace its own incompetence onto China, and to ensure that China does not receive credit or associated benefits on the world stage from its own swift public health response.
Azar’s Two Weeks of Silence
On December 31, 2019, Chinese authorities contacted the Beijing office of the World Health Organization and informed them about an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown origin observed in late December; on January 3, Dr. George F. Gao—director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—spoke to Dr. Robert Redfield—head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—about the “severity of the virus,” and Gao “burst into tears.” This was just a few days after the first cases of the mysterious pneumonia were detected in Hubei. A high-level team arrived in Wuhan from Beijing on December 31 to investigate the as yet unknown virus, the same day that the Chinese authorities informedthe WHO. Trump’s administration was first formally notified about the outbreak in China on January 3. The United States government, in other words, was personally informed about the danger of the virus within days of when the Chinese government told the WHO.
On January 1, the WHO set up a team across three levels of its organization (regional headquarters, country-level, and headquarters) to address the outbreak, and the next day, the WHO alerted all levels of its organization to the emergence of this virus, according to its situation report. The WHO announced publicly that the Chinese authorities had informed it of “a cluster of pneumonia cases—with no deaths—in Wuhan” on Twitter on January 4 and publicly released its first risk assessment on January 5. On January 3, Dr. Redfield of the U.S. CDC informed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, whose leader—Secretary Alex Azar—is a cabinet rank official. Azar was picked by Trump not for his government experience, but for two other reasons: first, Azar is known to be fiercely loyal to Trump, and second, he comes from the pharmaceutical industry (from 2012 to 2017, Azar was the head of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly, one of the world’s largest drug companies, and he was on the board of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a trade association of the drug industry). Azar informed the National Security Council, which he is obliged to do. But he did not brief President Trump with the actual facts. In fact, as the Wall Street Journal reported, Secretary Azar “waited two weeks to brief the president on the potential severity [of coronavirus], calling him to assure him the agency was ready to handle any cases in the U.S.”
"Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime" - Aristotle "The more I see of the moneyed peoples, the more I understand the guillotine" - George Bernard Shaw "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable" - JFK #SurviveAndRevolt
May 22, 2020 at 4:01 AM #317814GZeusHParticipant
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If you just sit on your ass and throw money at rich people, you can be unprepared for anything.
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