A COVID-19 test is pictured at NG BiotechInternationalIndiaAfricaMary ManleyAt the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the US accounted for over 20% of all confirmed COVID-19 deaths around the world. At the time, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University indicated that the US was reporting some 61.09 deaths per 100,000 people.A newly released poll has determined that three years after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of Americans seem to be shaken, still, by the fear of what could be lying around the corner.The new YouGov poll, revealed how many Americans are feeling about the government’s ability to prepare for and tackle future disease outbreaks after three years following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.The survey, released Monday and commissioned by the Pandemic Action Network and PAX Sapiens, found that 61% of Americans either agree or strongly agreed with the statement: “we are now in an era of increasing risk due to deadly infectious disease outbreaks and pandemic threats that can land at our doorstep in a matter of days.”Nearly 90% of the poll’s respondents said the federal government should prioritize preparing for the next pandemic in their annual budget and planning, while roughly two-thirds of Americans said the White House, which was under former President Donald Trump’s administration at the start of the novel coronavirus, was not prepared for the pandemic’s outbreak.According to the poll: “strong majorities support investing in pandemic preparedness at the federal (66%) and state and local (63%) levels, while a plurality (46%) support investing in global preparedness.”“Of these, a majority (53%) support strengthening global preparedness to prevent deadly outbreaks from spreading to America. Almost all (88%) respondents agreed that pandemic investment by the federal government was important to them to at least some degree,” the poll finds.According to the findings, 45% of respondents said the government was “very unprepared” for the pandemic and another 24% believed the government was somewhat unprepared.The poll also found that Americans’ concerns about pandemic preparedness is driven by their “personal experiences of loss” due to the COVID-19. About 37% of respondents said they knew someone who died due to COVID-19, while about the same percentage also reported feeling separated from family and friends.About 28% of respondents also reported worsening health, 8% reported an increase in drinking and substance use, while 31% suffered economic loss, and 15% reported job loss.Respondents also said government preparedness has not improved significantly, but half (49%) of respondents assume the US government has already improved their pandemic preparedness systems following COVID-19.Science & TechNew York City Teeming With Rats Infected With Different Covid-19 Strains, Study Warns10 March, 11:07 GMTBut Tom Inglesby, director for the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, wrote on Sunday that the “collective resolve” in the nation’s capital to prepare for the next pandemic has diminished: “The promise to prepare for pandemics in fundamentally new, far more ambitious ways has rapidly faded.”
“It’s been a challenge ever since then to get political authorities, and even some public health authorities, to take pandemic preparedness seriously,” explains Andrew Lakoff, a USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences sociologist and author. “It’s asking people to put resources into addressing a potential threat whose probability is impossible to calculate, so attention to it has waxed and waned.”
“The actual government experts in infectious disease have been on top of what’s happening, but they had trouble getting their voices heard by the political folks above them,” he says.Last week, US President Joe Biden revealed his budget proposal for the year, which includes $20 billion for Health and Human Services (HHS) allocated for their pandemic prevention and preparedness efforts including research and vaccine purchases. Another $1.2 billion is also being directed towards global preparedness in response to infectious disease outbreaks.In his recently unveiled budget, Biden has also requested $842 for the Department of Defense.