5 February 2020   Leave a comment

In May 2018, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer resigned from the National Security Council of the US. Ziemer left in the wake of the decision by then-National Security Adviser John Bolton to disband the global health security and biodefense directorate in the Council. That office was never reconstituted and there is now no office in the NSC to address the potential threat posed by the coronavirus, now identified as 2019-nCoV. There is much we still do not know about the disease and it may be weeks before we are certain about how contagious and deadly it is. The emergence of new viruses is usually accompanied by fear:

“Hoaxes and half-truths are huge problems during epidemics. The worried well can overwhelm health-care facilities, and make it harder for medical providers to find and treat actual cases. Confused citizens might forgo sensible measures such as hand washing in favor of inefficient ones like panicked mask buying. And misinformation tends to intensify the xenophobia that emerges during epidemics. As diseases spread, “individuals find people to blame based on their prejudices, or make themselves feel less at risk by finding points of discrimination between themselves and others,” says Alexandra Phelan, who studies legal and policy issues related to infectious diseases at Georgetown University.”

These fears make addressing the disease effectively difficult even under the best of circumstances. The matter is further complicated because of the current tensions between the US and China. As of tonight, “China says a total of 28,018 cases have been confirmed and 563 people have died in the country.”

Posted February 5, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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