Hindsight is 2010

17 Oct

After September’s unpresidential debate, see Presidential Debate Shit Show, we’ve seen Corona Virus (aka SARSCov2/ COVID19) take center stage. This is partly due to President Trump and some folks who attended the Supreme Court nomination announcement for Judge Amy Coney Barrett testing positive for Corona Virus.

The second debate, which was scheduled to happen last week, was cancelled and replaced with individual town halls on ABC (Biden) and NBC (Trump). I watched both town halls. To say they were different would be an understatement. The moderator for former VP Biden’s Townhall, George Stephanopoulus, treated the former VP like a buddy conversation, while the moderator for President Trump, Savannah Guthrie, was an antagonistic interrogation.

I was curious to see how both town halls treated the pandemic. I personally feel Guthrie’s push on this subject was good. I think many Americans feel the US could have performed better than we did, and they blame President Trump for not being a shining beacon. While I do think the Trump-Pence administration should have stepped aside and let the CDC lead, I am also cognizant individual states made decisions that worsened the pandemic spread.

I am specifically referring to New York’s outbreak worsening due to the March 25th executive order by Governor Cuomo, which was approved by the NY health commissioner. This executive order required nursing homes to readmit residents even if they were infected with Corona Virus. Over a two month period, over 6k COVID-positive patients were re-admitted to nursing homes. Outside of the resident related deaths, which likely exceeds 25% of NY’s overall COVID19 mortality, we have no idea how many workers were infected and transmitted the virus.

Former VP Biden squarely levels the blame for America’s response on the President. He also says he has a plan to rescue us from the pandemic. So, I thought it was worthwhile to take a look at how the Obama-Biden administration did with H1N1 (aka swine flu). Before looking at the administration’s actions, I think it is important to note that a H1N1 outbreak happened in 1970 and that 25% of the US population was vaccinated (approximately 48 million people at the time). So there was familiarity with the virus and a vaccine had been previously developed.

  • 2009-APR-17: A new H1N1 virus is detected in the US
  • 2009-APR-25: The World Health Organization (WHO) declares a public health emergency
  • 2009-MAY-02: Over 430 schools closed in 18 states with widespread activity in seven states and regional activity in 12
  • 2009-MAY-05: Second confirmed death due to H1N1 virus
  • 2009-JUN-06: 89% of all influenza reported in the US where novel H1N1 virus
  • 2009-JUN-11: WHO officially declares the new H1N1 outbreak a pandemic
  • 2009-JUL-24: Recruitment for H1N1 vaccine testing starts
  • 2009-SEP-21: US government orders a total of 251 million doses of H1N1 vaccine
  • 2009-SEP-27: Second wave of H1N1 pandemic begins to stress hospitals and prompts school closures
  • 2009-OCT-05: First doses of monovalent H1N1 pandemic vaccine administered
  • 2009-OCT-16: Shortfall of H1N1 vaccine predicted and number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are unprecedented for time of year
  • 2009-OCT-24: Public health departments across country have run out of H1N1 vaccine and influenza activity is widespread in 48 states with regional activity in HI and SC
  • 2009-DEC-06: One in six Americans infected or 15% of country with ~10k dead

Within one year from the start of the H1N1 pandemic (April 2010), over 60 million Americans had been infected with the virus, over 275 thousand had been hospitalized and roughly 12,500 died. With this pandemic experience, the Obama-Biden WH failed to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), nor did they change American government provisions for ensuring PPE, critical medical equipment and medicines were produced here. They had six years to do so, one and a half terms. The Obama-Biden administration’s claim to fame was a vaccine was developed within six months. As an H1N1 vaccine was created back in 1970, working influenza vaccines have been around since the 1940s and no such vaccine has ever existed for Corona Virus, comparing the two viruses for vaccine development and release is not apples to apples.

Both the depleted SNS and overseas supply chain for medical equipment/ supplies were huge impediments to our response against SARSCov2. We are lucky SARSCov2 did not happen back in 2009. Rather than the 8m cases/ 215k deaths we have today, one could extrapolate over 1.5 million deaths under the Obama-Biden administration. Considering the EU has very similar numbers to the US, I doubt a Biden-Harris administration would have performed much better. I wish we performed like Taiwan, South Korea or Japan, but we (like the EU) are not an island/ peninsula nation with a homogenous population. We are a very large heterogenous melting pot who value freedom and individualism with lots of international travel and commerce.

So former VP Biden’s claim for having an effective plan is “Mostly False” or “Wishful Thinking”.

Financial Times CoronaVirus Pandemic