Giving Compass’ Take:
• A top biosecurity expert says the US and the world aren’t ready for a big, mass-casualty pandemic, like where the coronavirus is heading.
• What is said to be the source of this outbreak? What precautions can be taken to prevent a further spread of this illness?
• Read more about this coronavirus outbreak in China.
For years, biosecurity experts have been warning that the US and the world are not prepared for a large-scale pandemic.
On the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed at least 50 million people worldwide (or between 3 percent and 6 percent of the whole world’s population), former “Ebola czar” Ron Klain warned that “it is the prospect of another such pandemic — not a nuclear war, or a terrorist attack, or a natural disaster — that poses the greatest risk of a massive casualty event in the United States.”
It is probably too early to apply the word “pandemic” to the coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, earlier this year, though some already are. About 361 people have died in China so far, for a fatality rate of about 2 percent, and though the situation on the ground is changing rapidly, we’re still far away from the worst-case scenario experts warn about.
That said, the coronavirus is a reminder — like the Zika and Ebola outbreaks before it — that big disease outbreaks can sneak up on us, and it’s better to be prepared for them than caught by surprise.
Beth Cameron, currently the vice president for global biological policy at the Nuclear Threat Initiative and formerly the senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council during the Obama administration, has done as much thinking as anyone about how to prepare for a mass casualty pandemic. A PhD biologist by training, she has written extensively on best practices in terms of funding pandemic response, responding to deliberate bioterrorism, and measuring the relative health security preparedness of various countries.
Read the full article about the coronavirus outbreak by Dylan Matthews at Vox.
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