The book Three Seconds Until Midnight by Dr. Steven Hatfill, Robert Coullahan, and Dr. John Walsh, published in November 2019, explains that we must be constantly prepared to pandemics caused by RNA viruses, which might be many times more lethal than COVID-19. It also shows the state of (un-)preparedness, in which the US was in 2014-2017.
The name of Dr. Steven Hatfill might be familiar. He was the victim of Mueller’s investigation methods following the 2001 anthrax letters. Dr. Steven Hatfill was cleared in the court, and received compensation. In the following quotes, the emphasis is added.
The conclusion is that none of the current approaches is funded or up to the needs of today. The sources of this problem are multiple. One is the involvement of non-medical planners such as politicians or DHS.
From 1996 until 2014 the United States has spent a conservative $79 billion towards a National Biological Defense. Yet in 2014, the Government demonstrated that it could not properly implement a simple syndromic surveillance system at five U.S. airports to screen for possible Ebola cases from West Africa. This event prompted us to examine 18-years of recorded GAO (Government Accountability Office) reports and testimony to determine the current state of U.S. preparedness for another lethal 1918-type Influenza pandemic. What we found was billions of wasted dollars, the purchase of defective equipment, out-of-date pandemic supplies, conflicting national guidelines, and the massive stockpiling of poorly chosen antiviral drugs with a questionable effectiveness in a pandemic. These stockpiled drugs remain a major feature of the US Government’s 2015 (updated 2017) Influenza Pandemic Response Plan. … the federal plan unrealistically shifts the most severe problems of a pandemic response to the local authorities of our towns and cities.
Our study determined that the U.S. does not currently have a public health workforce sufficient to manage this type of event [pandemics]. Our hospitals do not have the “surge” medical personnel necessary to take care of overwhelming mass casualties and no significant dedicated national pandemic training programs are underway. In August 2014, an independent DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed the ability of DHS to perform its essential pandemic functions and its report was scathing [selected points]: - A stockpile of 200,000 respirators were past their 5-year shelf-life. This stock will be maintained for “employee comfort.” - DHS failed to properly manage its stockpile of antiviral drugs for DHS use (81% expired). - Drugs were missing from the stockpile along with many of other items. - No contractor performance oversight mechanism was in place. - Improper storage resulted in $5-million dollars of antibiotics with now questionable effectiveness. Managing stockpiles and inventory is a basic procedure for even a small business, notwithstanding that the DHS stockpile is critical for the life and safety of its employees during a pandemic. DHS did not develop and implement stockpile replenishment plans, conduct proper inventory controls to monitor stockpiles, or provide adequate oversight for outside contracts.
A few months later, this incompetence reached a National level during the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak when the DHS proved that it could not implement even a simple syndromic surveillance system at 5 International U.S. airports. It failed to implement any coordination between DHHS and the CDC while spending $4-million dollars for outside contractors to take the temperature of select arriving passengers. In addition, not all the screeners wore the required Personal Protective Equipment. To top it off, roughly 12% of Ebola-infected individuals never even run a temperature (Chapter 20). In January 2016, the DHS Office of the Inspector General released an audit report regarding the department’s response to Ebola. Rather than being in control of a potentially major pandemic incident, the DHS was a major impediment and distraction for any type of successful, organized, U.S. Ebola Response. According to the Office of the Inspector General, the DHS Office of Health Affairs then impeded the OIG investigation. In October 2016, DHS OIG released a report, entitled “DHS Pandemic Planning Needs Better Oversight, Training, and Execution,” (OIG-17-02). The report identified some progress made from its audit 2-years previously but stated that DHS cannot be assured that its preparedness plans can be executed effectively during a pandemic event. The 2016 DHS OIG report identified seven recommendations to improve oversight, readiness, timeframes, training, and exercises. The full implementation of these recommendations by DHS has not yet been reported.
Former Obama administration officials attack Trump for his handling of the COVID-19 epidemics, instead of confessing that they left the country unprepared. Lisa Monaco was the homeland security adviser to President Barack Obama and member of the Homeland Security Council. Now she is a national security analyst for CNN. She bears more responsibility for deficiencies in the preparedness than most other members of the Obama administration. She also opens her beak bigger than others.
More on handling of Ebola by the Obama administration in 2014. The Federalist (before the appointment of “Ebola czar”)
the federal government not ten years ago created and funded a brand new office in the Health and Human Services Department specifically to coordinate preparation for and response to public health threats like Ebola. The woman who heads that office, and reports directly to the HHS secretary, has been mysteriously invisible from the public handling of this threat. And she’s still on the job even though three years ago she was embroiled in a huge scandal of funneling a major stream of funding to a company with ties to a Democratic donor—and away from a company that was developing a treatment now being used on Ebola patients.
The City Journal (after the appointment):
President Obama has appointed an “Ebola czar” to coordinate the government’s response: Ron Klain, a lawyer and political operative with zero experience in infectious diseases.