• How the Europe and the United States Lost #COVID-19

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    The gold-standard responses were those in East Asia and Oceania, by countries like South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia — countries that saw clearly the gravest infection threat the world had encountered in a century and endeavored to simply eradicate it within their borders. Mostly, they succeeded. When it mattered most, no nation in what was once grandly called “the West” even really bothered to try.

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    The virus is the virus,” says Gregg Gonsalves, the former AIDS activist turned epidemiologist, now a MacArthur “genius” with a public-health position at Yale. “There’s ways to stop it, and then there’s …” He pauses for a moment. “It has its own logic and its own trajectory.”

    • “One of the common features is that we are a medical-centric group of countries,” says Michael Mina, a Harvard epidemiologist who has spent the pandemic advocating for mass rollout of rapid testing on the pregnancy-kit model — only to meet resistance at every turn by those who insisted on a higher, clinical standard for tests. “We have an enormous focus on medicine and individual biology and individual health. We have very little focus as a group of nations on prioritizing the public good. We just don’t. It’s almost taboo — I mean, it is taboo. We have physicians running the show — that’s a consistent thing, medical doctors across the western European countries, driving the decision-making.” The result, he says, has been short-sighted calculations that prioritize absolute knowledge about everything before advising or designing policy about anything.

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