Image credits: freestocks

Managing A Pandemic: Who Would Do Better?

By Miriam Bello | Fri, 11/06/2020 - 18:24

The dispute for the White House between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has been going on since Tuesday this week. So far, several media outlets report an advantage for the democrats led by Biden. The New York Times states Biden has 253 electoral votes and President Trump 214. On the other hand, The Associated Press puts Biden at 264 and Trump at 214 electoral votes.

As one of the most influential countries in the world. The US elections have become a must watch event. However, this year’s elections took a twist due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. President and republican candidate Donald Trump even suffered from the disease during his campaign.

COVID-19 was in fact one of the most controversial subjects of both candidate’s campaign promises and their debates. According to the White House website, President Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has saved over two million lives and “outperformed other nations.” The website says that the US has one of the lowest fatality rates among developed economies. Moreover, the website highlights Trump’s vote of confidence on science and investment in the development of new treatments and vaccines.

An NPR article breaks down Trump’s management of the pandemic and points out that his administration has delegated much of the authority regarding COVID-19 to states, including testing and contact tracing. NPR highlights that the administration has indeed invested heavily in vaccine development, just as the White House says, and that Trump has signed two COVID-19 relief packages, plus another one he will sign after the election.

Regarding the vote of confidence on science, the president contradicts himself. On Oct. 29, when he was asked about Anthony Faucci’s advices on the management of the pandemic, Trump said Fauci was a disaster. “People are tired of coronavirus. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” he said. Anthony Fauci has been the Official Advisor for President Trump on facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Fauci has a team of experts and scientists alongside him to formulate supported responses amid the sanitary crisis.

This pandemic has also led to an infodemic due to the amount of data and misinformation on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Atlantic has gathered a series of false declarations that Trump has made abut COVID-19 in an effort to calm the waters. The White House website stated that the US had one of the lowest fatality rates among developed economies, which is what Trump stated on Aug. 27. However, according to The Atlantic, when Trump said this, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and India all had lower fatality rates than the US, which sat in the middle of performance rankings among all nations and among the 20 countries hit the hardest by the virus.

Trump even blamed Mexico (several times) for the high COVID-19 figures the US had. “Mexico is partly to blame for COVID-19 surges in the Southwest,” Trump said according to The Atlantic. However, even before Latin America’s COVID-19 cases began to rise, the US and Mexico had jointly agreed in March to restrict nonessential land travel between the two countries. US Customs and Border Protection says illegal border crossings are down compared to last year. Health experts say blaming Mexican immigrants for surges is misguided, especially when most of the individuals crossing the border are US citizens who live nearby, reports The Atlantic.

The US also detached itself from WHO back in July. Trump accused the organization for being under China’s control in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The US was the major contributor to WHO by far (US$893 million), representing 20 percent of the organization’s total budget. The impact of cutting US funding would not just affect COVID-19-related programs but others focused on diseases like polio.

How will Biden manage the pandemic?

After Trump dropped WHO, Biden tweeted: “On my first day as President, I will rejoin the WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage."

Biden has made clear statements regarding a future response based on science and direct CDC guidance. He has also said he would seek for states’ unity, provision of mass testing and the creation of a US public health corps. According to NPR, the campaign pledges to "mobilize" 100,000 Americans to work with local organizations around the country to enhance contact tracing and other services that would help address unmet needs in populations at high risk of contagion.

Health insurance is another subject Biden has brought up. As a result of millions of citizens losing their health insurance, Biden's COVID-19 plan proposes to have the federal government cover 100 percent of the costs of COBRA insurance for the duration of the crisis. He has also expressed his desire to build a care force for children, aging adults and people with disabilities, as there is a gap in homecare providers. Lastly, Biden proposes to bolster vaccine distribution and PPE production. On the latter, states have requested clearer guidance as financing services are required. Biden proposed a budget of US$25 billion for vaccine manufacturing and distribution in the US.

Photo by:   freestocks, Unsplash
Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst