By contrasting the U.S. proportional mortality rate with that of six other high-income countries, his report highlights the stark reality that is the United States’ continued mismanagement of the pandemic response. Particularly, it is the inability or unwillingness of U.S. officials to adapt or improve the federal response over the course of the pandemic that has strongly contributed to the nation’s uniquely high Covid-19 fatality rate.23 The U.S. should have – and could have – done better to protect the nation, and particularly its most vulnerable populations, from a threat that was identified and recognized early in 2020.
The failure of the federal government to (a) create a rigorous national strategy for testing and contact tracing, (b) coordinate data collection and coordination among U.S. states, or (c) recognize the scientific validity of non-pharmaceutical interventions like face coverings and social distancing reflect a deeply inadequate national response when contrasted to other high-income countries. _Our comparative analysis estimates that somewhere between 130,000 and 210,000 American deaths to date could have been avoided. _
The weight of this enormous failure ultimately falls to the leadership at the White House – and among a number of state governments – which consistently undercut the efforts of top officials at the CDC and HHS. Further, there is little evidence to suggest that science-based policies will prevail going forward with Donald Trump as President given his continued attacks on science and government scientists. A pandemic is not a time for a decentralized and combative national response. It requires strong leadership and coordination across states towards a common purpose of defeating the threat with the might of the whole nation. The cases of South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany, and France demonstrate that the scope of the crisis and suffering did not need to reach the levels seen in the U.S.