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Many people now pointing to old articles (incl. one from me) saying: It’s all there. And others saying: No-one could have predicted #covid19. So I just want to be very clear about what I personally as a journalist covering this beat for years expected and didn‘t expect. A thread
I expected a virus to go global, probably respiratory, probably from bats. Because experts told me. @PeterDaszak in my 2013 article: „right now in China, there are bats carrying a virus that can directly infect people, and cause another SARS pandemic“…
The scenario I thought about the most was a virus that is very deadly (something like 10 percent mortality say) but not super transmissible. The most likely alternative seemed a mild virus that spread rapidly. We probably wouldn’t be able to do much about that.
I did not expect a virus in the uncomfortable middle ground: Deadly enough that you cannot let it spread, transmissible enough that it spreads rapidly but which, as China showed, can be suppressed with extreme measures. It‘s a dilemma I had not envisaged.
I expected that we would have to battle not just the virus, but also fears, rumours, complacency, stigma, fair allocation. I‘m HIV+ and if that experience has taught me anything it‘s that even having the tools to vanquish a virus is only half the fight.
I did not expect that we would be battling nationalism, extreme partisanship, weakened institutions, inept leadership, targeted misinformation at the same time. It‘s a perfect storm and where these factors come together: US, Brazil, to name just two, the human cost will be tragic
I expected many governments to
be slow in responding. There are significant costs both in terms of money and politically to being perceived as overreacting. And politicians aren’t public health experts. There is a time lag and they have to balance more than just health concerns.
I did not expect that even as bodies start piling up some first world countries would downplay the problem, obscure the facts, and have a political fight rather than concentrate on the pandemic. That officials would be more worried about careers than frontline health care workers
What I learnt in the #Ebola outbreak in West Africa is that ultimatey it comes down to communities and how they respond. So let‘s concentrate all of us on doing that. Protect yourself, protect the most vulnerable in your communities, support those at the frontlines.
And then, when all this is over, there will have to be a reckoning.
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