Book Review: The Plague Year

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
Book cover from Goodreads

No one was prepared for this pandemic.

America was. It even had a playbook. But various events occured and decisions not made, which contributed to more than 600,000 deaths in the US.

“‘Unfortunately, political will for accelerating health security is caught in a perpetual cycle of panic and neglect…No country is fully prepared.’” Yet one country stood above all others in its readiness to confront a novel disease: the United States.”

Countries with experience dealing with a deadly pathogen acted fast.

Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and even Saudi Arabia were among the countries that acted quickly to contain local transmission of the disease. Why? They picked up lessons from dealing with SARs and MERs–a type of coronavirus that took lives. These countries responded with nonpharmaceutical interventions: social distancing and wearing of masks. These are all “traditional public health measures” that have proven effective.

Understanding history helps you deal with a pandemic.

Wright’s deep dive into history offers a deeper understanding on why a large portion of America refused to get vaccinated. Anti-vaccination movements have happened back when polio vaccines were first introduced in the 50s in the US. It was the same story in the 70s with the swine flu scare. As people believed more in conspiracies than science, anti-vaxxers emerged.

The contest between science and conspiracy would constantly undermine efforts to coordinate a national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dealing with a pandemic takes political will, and trust in science.

Wright wrote, “Trump’s demonstrated failures of judgment and his repeated rejection of science make him the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health challenge.”

Covid-19 told us more about these two men than any other individuals in the country. For Fauci, science was a self-correcting compass, always pointed at the truth. For Trump, the truth was Play-doh, and he could twist it to fit the shape of his desire.



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Erwin Lemuel Oliva

Erwin Lemuel Oliva

An ex-journalist. Teacher. Dad. Loves Guitar & Books. Writes when inspiration hits.