If anyone is to blame for COVID-19 deaths, it's Barack Obama and Joe Biden
Joe Biden claims that President Trump's response to COVID-19 has been a failure and that he would have done better, saving countless lives. The polls suggest that many Americans agree with that assessment. However, Biden's actual track record shows that the opposite is true. When a pandemic arrived, he failed repeatedly.
In April 2009, the H1N1 virus (AKA swine flu) came to America from China. The following year, it infected roughly 20%, or one fifth, of the entire U.S. population. Although it was a new, unknown disease, there were no shutdowns, no mask mandates, and minimal noticeable disruption to daily life. The U.S. government offered little direction.
This past summer, Ron Klain, who is currently Biden's COVID-19's advisor, confessed that "we did everything possible wrong. ... It is purely a fortuity that this isn't one of the great mass casualty events in American history." When Obama and Biden were in charge, Americans were lucky they didn't die.
The death count for H1N1 was just over 12,000. Had H1N1 been as deadly as COVID-19, in one year, there would have been more than 1.5 million dead, given that over 60 million Americans had been infected. Again, as Klain said: They. Got. Lucky.
In 2020, another pandemic has arrived from China, and we are now eight to nine months past its arrival date. Only 8 million Americans are infected. Extrapolating from that, about 10 million people (approx. 3% of the U.S. population) will catch it by the end of the first year. That is six times less than the number of people who caught H1N1 during the Obama/Biden administration. This is amazing, considering that the experts agree that COVID-19 is as contagious as H1N1.
Instead of praising Trump, though, for helping to control the virus, the Biden campaign blames him for a mercifully limited spread. This is purely political and ignores medical reality.
A hard reality for physicians in training to face is that doctors often cannot control bad outcomes. For physicians given the privilege of treating and caring for their fellow human beings, an illness leading to suffering and death is always painful. However, physicians are scientists trained to perform retrospective reviews of cases and incidents to learn from what happened and to prevent a recurrence in a similar situation.
In medicine, this process is known by many names: Mortality and Morbidity Conference, Peer Review Conference, or Sentinel Event Conference. Colloquially, doctors call them "Monday-Morning Quarterbacking." They are an integral part of medicine because these conferences make us better. They keep us humble and remind us that we don't have power over life and death.
The meticulous process allows us to discover both what we did wrong and what we did right. We can therefore prepare for a future occurrence of the same or a similar situation.
Not only was the H1N1 pandemic an opportunity to learn, but it placed upon the Obama/Biden administration the obligation to prepare America for the next pandemic, something that was all but guaranteed to occur again. The politicians and bureaucrats charged with protecting America, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was also on the H1N1 frontline, were handed an amazing opportunity to do right by their citizens, but they did nothing. Instead, the Obama/Biden administration failed to meet the first two (out of six) principles of medical ethics: beneficence and non-maleficence.
If the Obama/Biden administration had done the retrospective review it was obligated to perform following the H1N1 pandemic, it would have realized that, while every new viral threat is different, the anticipated similarities meant they could and should have prepared for that next threat by having adequate stocks of PPE, ventilators, systems for delivering testing, and contact-tracing plans that could be used at a moment's notice. This would buy time that would be sorely needed when the next unknown virus made its way to our shores.
They never did that. Instead, the last administration learned little from the near miss of H1N1 and implemented little to no change that could help Americans prepare for future pandemics and threats.
So before you side with Biden's criticism of the current administration's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, I implore you to do some Monday-morning quarterbacking of your own and look to the not so distant past. If the government that We, the People, hired to work for us in 2008 had done its job in 2009–2010, we might have been better able to protect ourselves and our most vulnerable. This might have saved thousands of lives while the experts worked to handle the novel COVID-19 virus that came from China in 2020.
Hindsight should have been 20/20. Had the administration that Biden helped head done its work, perhaps 2020 would have looked very different. Instead, the difficulties of 2020 have resulted from opportunity presented and opportunity missed.
Image: Ron Klain with added subtitle. YouTube screen grab.