What the U.S. did wrong with COVID-19

An article co-authored by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health assessed federal missteps in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic that have led the U.S. to experience some of the most severe outcomes in the world.

The article, published November 2, 2020 in the European Journal of Epidemiology, documented failures regarding the introduction of the virus into the U.S. and the establishment of community transmission; the lack of national COVID-19 workplace standards and enforcement and the lack of personal protective equipment for workplaces; and the more than 230,000 COVID-19-related deaths to date in 2020, with mortality rates revealing stark inequities in race and ethnicity.

“All cases and deaths cannot be prevented—that clearly is not possible with a novel pandemic—but the evidence suggests that ineffective national policies and responses, especially as compared to those of other wealthy nations or compared to the intricate preparation and planning by previous administrations of both parties, have been driving the terrible toll of COVID-19 and its inequities in the US,” the authors wrote. “This country—and its political leaders, who bear responsibility—can and must do better.”

Co-authors included William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology; Christian Testa, data analyst and programmer; Jarvis Chen, research scientist; Mauricio Santillana, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology; and Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology.

Read the European Journal of Epidemiology article: COVID-19: US federal accountability for entry, spread, and inequities—lessons for the future