While the USA and South Korea each reported their first case on the same day on January 20th, South Korean officials went to work immediately, developing a coronavirus test and then rolling out mass testing nationwide, testing an average of 10,000 citizens per day.
The USA testing programme was woefully inadequate for the rest of January, February and into March.
This table shows the number of tests for both countries in early March, and the number of deaths, indicating the stark differences in the statistics. Clearly, the S Korean policy of testing, contact tracing and isolation of all positive cases and their contacts for 14 days contained the virus very quickly. The experience of the USA is quite the opposite, with the number of daily deaths rising almost exponentially as a direct consequence of delayed testing.
Country Tests * Deaths @ 14th April** Population*
USA 7,695 as of 11 March 26,047 329 million
S Korea 189,236 as of 8 March 222 51.3 million
Mr Trump has been under fire for his own handling of the pandemic. He has sought to deflect persistent criticism that he acted too slowly to stop the virus’s spread by pointing to his decision in late January to place restrictions on travel from China.
Trump withdraws WHO funding
Trump has been heavily criticised for halting funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) amid the global coronavirus pandemic. He said that the body had “failed in its basic duty” in its response to coronavirus.
The US is the global health body’s largest single funder and gave it more than $400m in 2019. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is funding Covid-19 treatment and vaccine research, is the second-largest funder. Bill Gates said it was “as dangerous as it sounds”.
Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the Lancet medical journal, wrote that Trump’s decision was “a crime against humanity … Every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity.”
“It’s a bizarre decision that would be profoundly detrimental to global public health,” said Gavin Yamey, the director of Duke University’s center for policy impact in global health. “He’s trying to distract from his own errors that have led to the worst government response to Covid-19 on Earth.”
In a separate outrageous decision, the US Treasury has ordered Donald Trump’s name be printed on cheques to be sent to tens of millions of Americans affected by the coronavirus outbreak, a decision that will slow their delivery by several days, according to the Washington Post.
Citing unnamed senior officials at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Post reported the $1,200 cheques – being sent by the as part of a $2.3tn package enacted last month to cushion the economic blow from the pandemic – will “bear Trump’s name in the memo line, below a line that reads, ‘Economic Impact Payment’.”