Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Patriotism and Pandemic

At WP, William Booth interviews Lancet editor Richard Horton:
Q: In your book, you write, “The story of covid-19 in the United States is one of the strangest paradoxes of the whole pandemic. No other country in the world has the concentration of scientific skill, technical knowledge and productive capacity possessed by the U.S. It is the world’s scientific superpower bar none. And yet this colossus of science utterly failed to bring its expertise successfully to bear on the policy and politics of the nation’s response.”
A: That’s true.

Q: What happened?

A: This is hard. I love America. But it can be very parochial. I think the fact that America sees itself as the greatest country in the world means that it sees itself as impregnable. That view informs not just a response to a pandemic, but attitudes to climate change and other threats.

I don’t think many American public health scientists and government advisers read those papers we published. If they did, I don’t think that they took them seriously. I think there was a very serious miscalculation of the risk by American public health scientists.

I know Tony Fauci well, and his entire career has been forged on the fight against AIDS. He’s a brilliant scientist. He is a brave man. But something went wrong here. I wish I could give you a clear answer as to why, but I can’t. I really can’t explain it.