Trump, Biden fail in virus fight because US system does not serve its people
Published: Sep 08, 2021 07:53 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

According to the White House, US President Joe Biden will announce a six-pronged strategy intended to fight the highly contagious Delta variant and boost COVID-19 vaccination across the country. 

It has been nearly eight months since Biden took office. During this period, the US epidemic situation did not turn for the better, but became even worse. Last year, during Biden's election campaign, he detailed his approach on a "national mask mandate" and pushed for widely accessible and regular coronavirus testing. On the first day he entered the Oval Office, he signed a burst of executive orders to cope with the ravaging epidemic. 

But eight months later, the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the US reached 650,000, topping the world, and the number of infections exceeded 40 million. This presents a stark contrast to the fact that the US has the world's most advanced medical technologies and public health resources. 

When talking about the epidemic fight in the US, people around the world would not think of any unique measures the US adopted or any contributions the US made to this global fight. What they could think of is astonishing infection and death numbers, baseless but numerous accusations against China, and selfishness in vaccine distribution. This is the biggest failure of the US epidemic fight. 

If the US could overcome its political short-sightedness and irresponsible calculations and believe in science, it could have eased its domestic epidemic situation and even contributed to this global endeavour. Regrettably, the US government, either led by the Republicans or Democrats, focuses its attention on origins tracing which it views as a political bargaining chip in major power competition. 

The Republicans blame the Biden team for this US failure, while the Democrats claim the Trump team, which had never had the intention to fight the epidemic, left a mess for them. The fact is, the failure is the joint work of the Trump team and the Biden team. The reason that neither the Republican-led government nor the Democrat-led government managed to fight the virus is the malfunction of the US political system in the wake of a public health crisis and the system's lack of ability to self-correct after years of accumulation of problems.

Zhang Tengjun, an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that the US is so politically divided that from Congress to the states, a top-down anti-virus policy can hardly be formed. The Biden administration fails to show the determination to break away from the US' long-held values that hinder US society from accepting anti-virus measures - for instance, the Americans are still batting whether the mask mandate and the vaccine mandate should be applied. 

"The Biden administration does not show effective leadership and a strong political will. It still uses the epidemic fight as a card in elections," said Zhang.

What will be the eventual COVID-19 death toll in the US? The one that cares the least is the US. The two parties care more about how to gloss over these losses and make voters believe their rhetoric and still vote for them. Although the US is the most powerful country in the world, politically, economically and militarily, it is by no means a country that serves its people. That is why the coronavirus could so wildly attack Americans. 

The hard-to-control epidemic has become a prominent feature in US-style governance and the inconsistent and hasty measures to be taken by the Biden administration will only prove futile in addressing the epidemic as well as US governance woes. The winner of the US self-imagined competition will be the virus, never the US.