UK newspaper underscores US mishandling of COVID-19, lack of leadership

Xinhua
British newspaper Financial Times has explored in detail about what went wrong with the US Trump administration's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xinhua

British newspaper Financial Times has explored in detail about what went wrong with the US Trump administration's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic while showing a lack of global leadership in the crisis.

"In hindsight, Trump's claim to global leadership leaps out. History will mark COVID-19 as the first time that ceased to be true. US airlifts have been missing in action. America cannot even supply itself," said a recent article published on the FT website.

The article, titled "Inside Trump's coronavirus meltdown", cited William Burns, former United States Deputy Secretary of State and now head of the Carnegie Endowment, as saying that "Trump's handling of the pandemic at home and abroad has exposed more painfully than anything since he took office the meaning of America First."

"America is first in the world in deaths, first in the world in infections and we stand out as an emblem of global incompetence. The damage to America's influence and reputation will be very hard to undo," Burns said.

"It is as though we knew for a fact that 9/11 was going to happen for months, did nothing to prepare for it and then shrugged a few days later and said, 'Oh well, there's not much we can do about it,'" said Gregg Gonsalves, a public health scholar at Yale University, in the article. "Trump could have prevented mass deaths and he didn't."

The US Centers for Disease Control has been plagued by mishap and error throughout the crisis. The agency spent weeks trying to develop a jinxed test when it could simply have imported WHO-approved kits from Germany, which has been making them since late January, said the article written by Edward Luce, the FT's US national editor and columnist.

"The CDC has been missing in action...Because of the CDC's errors, we did not have a true picture of the spread of the disease," said the author, citing a former senior adviser in the Trump White House as saying.

Trump has alleged the WHO's (World Health Organization) negligence had increased the world's death rate "twenty-fold". However, the article pointed out that the WHO declared an international emergency six weeks before Trump's US announcement. "WHO officials say Trump's move has badly hindered its operations," it said.

When it comes to Trump's suspending US funding of the WHO, the article citied Bernhard Schwartlander, chief of staff at the WHO, as saying "You don't turn off the hose in the middle of the fire, even if you dislike the fireman." "This virus threatens every country in the world and will exploit any crack in our resolve," he said.

The article also said blaming America's death rate on China and the WHO could well help Trump's re-election campaign. "Many voters are all too ready to believe the US is a victim of nefarious global forces."

"America, in other words, should brace itself for a turbulent six months ahead -- with no assurance of a safe landing," Luce wrote.


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