George W Bush had an excellent pandemic plan, but the West ignored it

He and Dick Cheney ordered scientists to devise a social distancing strategy, but it was not used for Covid-19

05 October 2020 - 19:25 By Paul Nuki

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Imagine if a world leader, a president with unlimited resources, had marshalled a crack team of leading scientists to devise a pandemic strategy that could have prevented a new respiratory virus from turning Western society upside down. A strategy designed to hold back a lethal new virus long enough to allow a vaccine or other pharmaceutical interventions to be created without the need for an economically crushing lockdown. A strategy that was not just academic and evidence based but one which had been adopted as policy, operationalised and shared with allies around the world.

Looking at the world today you would think it was China and its neighbours across southeast Asia that had created that protocol. They are the nations that acted quickly to control Covid-19 through a carefully crafted set of social distancing measures or “non-pharmaceutical interventions” and have dramatically limited damage to their economies and geopolitical power as a result. Yes, they have taken a hit but national lockdowns have been brief or avoided completely, as have large-scale excess deaths, direct and indirect...

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.