The US failed the covid test because it lacks social cohesiveness

The US failed the covid test because it lacks social cohesiveness. By Katrina Grace Kelly.

American author Andy Slavitt … says the US has 4 per cent of the world’s population, but experienced 20 per cent of the world’s Covid-19 deaths.

At the time he wrote that there were 500,000 lives lost. That figure is now 700,000 and climbing, despite widely available, effective and free vaccines. What a tragedy this is. And self-inflicted too. …

I have always admired America. Recent events, though, have changed my perspective. In this pandemic, the wealthiest country in the world failed dismally to protect its own people. This cannot be denied or sugar-coated.

Slavitt’s book chronicles “missed opportunities, wilful neglect” and political “indifference and denial”. It puts the argument that a culmination of many things “had begun to distort” their society for years — “gross inequality based on race and income, the growing distrust of expertise, a media addicted to promoting controversy, and a people long out of the habit of shared sacrifice for the common good”.

When the pandemic hit, a test was applied. Wealth, technology and a self-image as an exceptional nation were of little help. A dramatic adaptation of their society was required, and this adaptation did not occur.

The pandemic did not test the prowess of the US. It tested its political and healthcare systems, its shared values and humanity.

Slavitt examines how and why the US failed this test. It was “unable to do what many other countries did — alter our own behaviour enough to stifle the virus’s ability to spread”. It was Americans’ “obsession with individual liberties, even at the expense of others’ lives and health” he concludes, plus their “diminishment of science and expertise”.

Slavitt points out that “safe public health practices in use throughout the world, including mask-wearing, physical distancing and contact tracing, not only were not implemented but also were openly scorned in many parts of the country”.

The wealthiest countries, he says, turned out not to be the best at dealing with the pandemic: “The countries that have more social cohesion have all the advantage.”

In Australia, we have been required to significantly alter our behaviour. Every time I feel sorry for myself, though, I think of the people who lived here during the last World War. I contrast their sacrifices, efforts and stoicism to the actions of the freedom warriors today.

Perhaps. Some will not agree that the US failed the covid test, but few would dispute that US cohesiveness is dwindling fast.

One curious aspect of the US covid situation is their projection onto Australia of the trends towards tyranny occurring in the US. Presumably because Australia is like the US, but most Americans don’t have enough knowledge of Australia to realize how silly, wrong , and out-of-context these Australia-bashing stories are.

The “news” on covid in Australia on the US websites greatly exaggerates the violence and restrictions. It is often plain wrong. Here in Australia we just look at what is going on the US right-wing websites in amazement and disbelief. We live here, we know.

Yes, Victoria — our most left-wing state — has a problem and has badly managed things. The deaths and outrages are nearly all in Victoria. The Victorian police have been too heavy handed at times. But they have been attacked by left wing thugs and by right wing mobs looking for fights. Even so, there have been no deaths and no significant property damage — unlike say the BLM riots in the US last year. Even Tucker Carlson broadcast a bunch of easily refuted lies and exaggerations about Australia. I guess people only see what they want to see.

Like most of Australia, Perth where I live is the same as pre-covid almost — no violence, no masks, almost no restrictions, no covid, locked down for only 12 of the last 365 days — but you need a two week quarantine to enter the place. The US websites have it insanely wrong.

Two important points that the US websites omit. First, the lockdown-to-elimination strategies (recently abandoned in NSW and Victoria, which are now more vaccinated than the US) have enjoyed broad popular support, as demonstrated by recent state elections results and by polls. Second the death rate in the US — that is, per capita deaths — is forty times that in Australia.

Australia: 1,448 deaths, 56 deaths per million popn.

USA: 734,604 deaths, 2,203 deaths per million popn,

US covid deaths are currently a bit under 2,000 deaths per day, more than the entire Australian death toll to date. Ok, the US is much larger, but still…

For all our problems, Australia still has a higher social cohesiveness.