A report late last year from the prestigious Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health ranked every nation on a variety of factors related to fighting pandemics and concluded that the United States was by far the most prepared nation to handle an epidemic.
The report was highlighted by President Donald Trump on Wednesday during a press conference about the coronavirus, which originated from China and has now infected over 82,000 people and killed over 2,800 — the majority of both of those numbers happening in China.
The report stated regarding its evaluations of each nation:
Among its 140 questions, the [Global Health Security (GHS)] Index prioritizes not only countries’ capacities, but also the existence of functional, tested, proven capabilities for stopping outbreaks at the source. Several questions in the GHS Index are designed to determine not only whether a capacity exists, but also whether that capacity is regularly—for example, annually—tested and shown to be functional in exercises or real-world events.
The GHS Index also includes indicators of nations’ capacities and capabilities to reduce Global Catastrophic Biological Risks (GCBRs), which are biological risks of unprecedented scale that could cause severe damage to human civilization at a global level, potentially undermining civilization’s long-term potential. These are events that could wipe out gains in sustainable development and global health because of their potential to cause national and regional instability, global economic consequences, and widespread morbidity and mortality.
The 140 GHS Index questions are organized across seven categories:
- Prevention: Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens
- Detection and Reporting: Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern
- Rapid Response: Rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic
- Health System: Sufficient and robust health system to treat the sick and protect health workers
- Compliance with International Norms: Commitments to improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps, and adhering to global norms
- Risk Environment: Overall risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats
The report ranked the United States:
- Overall: #1
- Prevention: #1
- Detection and Reporting: #1
- Rapid Response: #2
- Health System: #1
- Compliance with International Norms: #1
- Risk Environment: #19
The report ranked China:
- Overall: #51
- Prevention: #50
- Detection and Reporting: #64
- Rapid Response: #47
- Health System: #30
- Compliance with International Norms: #141
- Risk Environment: #58
Nearly all of the worst ranked countries were located in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin American.
This is the graphic that Trump just held up at the press conference that shows that the U.S. is the most prepared country in the world to deal with the coronavirus pic.twitter.com/GIiFLPgchu
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) February 26, 2020
Trump announced on Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence was being placed in charge of coordinating the government’s response to the coronavirus.
During the press conference, Pence gave the following statement:
Thank you Mr. President. President Trump’s made clear from the first days of this administration, we have no higher priority than the safety, security, health and wellbeing of the American people. And from the first word of an outbreak of the coronavirus, the President took unprecedented steps to protect the American people from the spread of this disease. He recounted those briefly, but the establishment of travel restrictions, aggressive quarantine effort of Americans that are returning, the declaration of a public health emergency and establishing the White House corona task force, are all reflective of the urgency that the President has brought to a whole of government approach.
As a former governor from the state where the first MERS case emerged in 2014, I know full well the importance of Presidential leadership, the importance of administration leadership, and the vital role of partnerships of state and local governments and health authorities in responding to the potential threat of dangerous infectious diseases.
I look forward Mr. President, to serving in this role. I’m bringing together all the members of the corona task force that you’ve established. The HHS, CDC, DHS, the Department of Transportation and State. This team has been at your direction, Mr. President, meeting every day since it was established. My role will be to continue to bring that team together, to bring to the President the best options for action to see to the safety and wellbeing in healthy American people. I will also be continuing to reach out to governors, state and local officials. In fact, in the recent days, the White House met with over 40 state, county, and city health officials from over 30 states and territories to discuss how to respond to the potential threat of the coronavirus. We’ll be working with them in renewed ways to make sure they have the resources to be able to respond.
And as the president said, we’ll be adding additional personnel here at the White House to support our efforts on the President’s behalf. We’ll also be working with members of Congress to ensure that the resources are available for this whole of government response. And we’ll be working very closely with Secretary Azar and his team, that have done an outstanding job communicating to the public to ensure the American people have the best information. With that, the President has asked me to recognize the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar. And also, the Deputy Director of CDC, Dr. Anne Schuchat. Four of them, ops. Mr. Secretary.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) February 27, 2020
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) warned that the media and Democrat Party were trying to politicize the issue in effort to harm the president, writing, “As a doctor who ran vaccine programs to decrease the spread of disease, @realDonaldTrump is doing what’s necessary to protect Americans from the #coronavirus. Democrats’ attacks are unfounded and aimed at stoking fear for political gain.”
As a doctor who ran vaccine programs to decrease the spread of disease, @realDonaldTrump is doing what’s necessary to protect Americans from the #coronavirus. Democrats’ attacks are unfounded and aimed at stoking fear for political gain.
— Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@BillCassidy) February 27, 2020