The Pentagon Knew Years Ago That a Novel Influenza Pandemic Was Coming

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The Pentagon Press Briefing Room before Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper briefs the media about the department’s coronavirus response, March 17, 2020. The Pentagon reported its first two positive coronavirus cases Friday for personnel who had recently been inside the building. Department of Defense photo by Lisa Ferdinand Office of the Secretary of Defense

Ken Klippenstein, The Nation: Exclusive: The Military Knew Years Ago That a Coronavirus Was Coming

The Pentagon warned the White House about a shortage of ventilators, face masks and hospital beds in 2017—but the Trump administration did nothing.

Despite President Trump’s repeated assertions that the COVID-19 epidemic was “unforeseen” and “came out of nowhere,” the Pentagon was well aware of not just the threat of a novel influenza, but even anticipated the consequent scarcity of ventilators, face masks, and hospital beds, according to a 2017 Pentagon plan obtained by The Nation.

“The most likely and significant threat (enemy) is a novel respiratory disease, particularly a novel influenza disease,” the military plan states. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel (meaning: new to humans) coronavirus. The document specifically references coronavirus on several occasions, in one instant saying, “Coronavirus infections [are] common around the world.”


WNU Editor: Warnings that another pandemic was coming have been around for years (if not decades). I just finished reading this 2018 Canadian report that is an update from 2006 …. Canadian Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Planning Guidance for the Health Sector. And then there is this excellent 2015 pandemic lecture by Bill Gates …. The next outbreak? We’re not ready (TED, YouTube). And while it is always easy to say “I told you so”, that debate should be for later on. The focus should be on what is happening now, what needs to be done to minimize the impact of this pandemic in the days and weeks to come, and to take care of those who are on the front lines and/or the sick and vulnerable.

Update: This is a fair analysis …. Ian Bremmer breaks down Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis — where he has been a profound failure and where he has been among the best in the world (Business Insider).

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