Skip to main content
Australia Edition
Monday, 27 September 2021

U.S. COVID response draws scrutiny

Duration: 02:05s 0 shares 5 views

U.S. COVID response draws scrutiny
U.S. COVID response draws scrutiny

The United States squandered both money and lives in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and it could have avoided hundreds of thousands of deaths, a group of research papers conclude.

This report produced by Freddie Joyner.

A group of research papers out this week found the United States squandered both money and lives in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. could have avoided hundreds of thousands of deaths with a more effective health strategy, and trimmed federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while still supporting those who needed it.

These findings were released at a Brookings Institution conference, offering the first glimpse at what is sure to be an intense effort in the coming years to assess the response to the worst pandemic in a century.

If by last May the country had adopted widespread mask, social distancing, and testing protocols while awaiting a vaccine, U.S. COVID-19 fatalities could have stayed under 300,000, versus a current death toll of over 540,000 according to Andrew Atkeson, economics professor at University of California, Los Angeles.

Instead, then-President Donald Trump made mask wearing into a culture war flashpoint [DONALD TRUMP, SEPTEMBER 22, 2020] "...and then he comes up with a mask.

He's like 100 yards from the nearest human being.

He's got a mask..." and repeatedly played down the virus... Atkeson also projected a final fatality level of around 670,000 in the country as vaccines spread and the crisis subsides.

Had no vaccine been developed, he estimates the death toll would have been 1.27 million.

The economic response to the pandemic was also criticized, with researchers arguing it could have been more tailored.

Adding that while some government spending was needed on things like health and unemployment, generous one-time payments to families, were "largely ineffective and wasteful." Another paper opposed that view and said the federal programs largely did what they intended by supporting income and spending, but could have been improved.

Most recently Biden administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, argue their full package was needed to be sure all workers and families are kept economically intact until the job market recovers.