Biden’s weak record in responding to pandemics

As far as I can tell, Joe Biden’s pitch for the presidency is based on claims that he can unify the country and that he is a decent person, plus the view that a president Biden would have handled the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic far more ably than President Trump has. The first claim is laughable and the second is phony. I will discuss them in future posts.

As for the pandemic, yesterday I tried to show that Biden and his team were often wrong about the current pandemic in the early part of this year, when a response needed to be formulated. In this post, I want to discuss Biden’s record as vice president during the swine flu pandemic (H1N1).

According to Politico, hardly a conservative source, Biden, who was the Obama administration’s point man in dealing with the swine flu, did not distinguish himself. Natasha Korecki demonstrated this in an article called “Biden has fought a pandemic before. It did not go smoothly.”

Indeed, it didn’t:

Politico interviewed almost two dozen people, including administration officials, members of Congress and outsiders who contended with the administration’s response, and they described a litany of sadly familiar obstacles: vaccine shortfalls, fights over funding and sometimes contradictory messaging.

Ron Klain, Biden’s chief-of-staff at the time, gave this candid assessment:

It is purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history. It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck. If anyone thinks that this can’t happen again, they don’t have to go back to 1918, they just have to go back to 2009, 2010 and imagine a virus with a different lethality, and you can just do the math on that.

Klain said this before the Wuhan virus pandemic began. He wouldn’t be as honest now and, in fact, has said his quote is out of context. Yet, the quote couldn’t be more clear or, as shown below, more true.

Kimberley Strassel picked up on the matter of Biden’s response to the swine flu in a recent Wall Street Journal column. If you can’t penetrate the Journal’s pay wall, you can listen to her summarize the article in this podcast, beginning about half way through.

Strassel asks whether it is reasonable to blame a single politician, as the Biden campaign blames Trump, for the spread of a highly infectious virus, especially in a free country with 50 states and 330 million people. If so, she answers, then “Joe Biden is lucky that wasn’t the standard a decade ago” when he led Team Obama’s efforts to combat the swine flu.

Strassel recounts how, when this virus came to the U.S., experts issued dire warnings about its deadliness. Top administration officials believed the essence of the warnings, as is clear from the Politico article cited above.

The Obama-Biden response consisted of declaring an emergency and distributing some equipment, both of which the Trump administration did early on in this pandemic. Beyond that, says Strassel, there was little to the Obama-Biden response, much less there has been to that of President Trump.

The Obama-Biden response did not prevent the flu from spreading to 60 million people. That’s more than 10 times the spread of the Wuhan virus so far.

Fortunately, the H1N1 virus turned out to be nowhere near as deadly as many predicted. That’s what Klain means when he talks about how “lucky” we were.

If that virus had been as deadly as this one, the death count would have been around 2 million Americans. That’s what Klain means when he says “just do the math.”

I’m told the Democrats were silent at their convention about the swine flu pandemic, which isn’t surprising. They talked instead about Ebola. What a joke. That disease barely even reached our shores in 2014.

In sum, neither Biden’s handling of the swine flu pandemic nor his misguided comments at the outset of the Wuhan virus outbreak suggests that he, rather than Trump, should be our president. Rather, Biden’s history with pandemics, as with much else, argues in Trump’s favor.