Only months before the coronavirus appeared on the global scene, the United States had been rated as the best-prepared country in the world to deal with a pandemic.
The Global Health Security Index, compiled by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, put the U.S. at the top of a list of 195 countries profiled in an in-depth statistical analysis.
In describing the project when it was unveiled, The Washington Post reported the data “was developed with guidance from an international panel of experts from 13 countries, with research by the Economist Intelligence Unit. More than 100 researchers spent a year collecting and validating publicly available data.”
The GHS data showed that the U.S. was ranked first in the world for its international commitments and its integration of health into disaster-risk reduction. It also was at the top of all nations rated in terms of actions to minimize public health vulnerabilities.
The U.S. was also ranked first in emergency preparedness and response training.
President Donald Trump had referenced the study in February during a coronavirus task force briefing.
“The Johns Hopkins, I guess — is a highly respected, great place — they did a study, comprehensive: ‘The Countries Best and Worst Prepared for an Epidemic.’ And the United States is now — we’re rated number one. We’re rated number one for being prepared,” Trump said then, according to a White House media pool report.
Despite that, Trump has been attacked by Democrats, including presidential contender and former Vice President Joe Biden.
As noted by a “fact check” by The Associated Press, headlined “Democrats distort coronavirus readiness,” Biden has claimed that public health funding has been cut when, in fact, it increased.
Biden’s campaign also was awarded four Pinocchios by The Washington Post’s fact-checker for a claim that a top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official had been “silenced.”
The campaign issued a video by Ron Klain, a former Biden aide, which claimed that Dr. Nancy Messonnier was punished for a stark assessment of the impact of the coronavirus on America.
“Starting the next day, Dr. Messonnier no longer appeared at public briefings of the White House coronavirus task force. The president and the White House sent a clear message to scientists in the government — there would be a price for speaking out and speaking up,” Klain claimed in the video, according to The Washington Post.
The Post noted that “Messonnier continued to hold her regular telephone briefings with reporters for another two weeks. The task force briefings moved to the White House after [Vice President Mike] Pence was named to head the task force, but Messonnier was not a regular participant and she appears not to have been senior enough to share the stage with the president. And although the CDC’s voice has been muted in recent weeks, that development does not appear related to her Feb. 25 comments.”
“But that’s no excuse for this video to claim Messonnier was silenced when, in fact, she kept briefing reporters,” the Post wrote, saying that the video “created a false narrative.”
Some experts have said America’s public health system has responded to the unprecedented crisis as it should.
“The CDC’s response has been excellent, as it has been in the past,” said John Auerbach, president of the nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health, told the AP.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.