Before the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and 2021 broke out into the world with a fury unseen by humans in a century, medical experts the world over would have told you that much of the developed world was more than ready to handle a pandemic. At the top of the list of countries ready to handle such an eventuality, of course, would have been the good old United States of America. However, anyone who’s been paying attention for the last year would know that the country struggled mightily in dealing with the outbreak.
There are a number of reasons why the US, the country primed best to handle a pandemic, fell apart when presented with the real thing. Let’s take a closer look.
When the first cases were detected in the US in January of 2020, many experts believe that was the time the public should have hunkered down and began social distancing. Had that occurred, many medical professionals contend, it’s likely that the US could have squashed the virus before it got out of control. However, getting everyone on-board with that plan so early in the year would have been very difficult.
This is why preventative measures are difficult: when you use them, and they work, it looks like nothing even happened. Taking steps to avoid a pandemic would have led to a situation where people said “oh, but no one got sick, so that was a waste!” This is a corollary of survivorship bias, a fallacy in which things that are actually fatal seem less dangerous than things that people walk away from, because the fatal thing yields and absence of results.
Even once the US began lockdowns, mask-wearing and social distancing, many people in the country were slow to adapt to this new way of life. Many people, to this day, resist things like mask-wearing and maintaining a six-foot distance from others. Experts believe this stubbornness, which is more prevalent in the US than some other countries, has led to a slower recovery from COVID for the entire country.
The biggest hurdle for the US, now, is the vaccination rollout. Getting enough doses out into the medical system and getting those doses into patients is proving to be more troublesome than anticipated. As the country grapples with the pandemic, the vaccination effort seems like the most realistic way to put the pandemic behind us.