Nature has published a review of a book written by the Lancet’s editor Richard Horton, in which he writes a scathing report of the handling of COVID-19 pandemic.
Horton queries the role of international cooperation and the consequences of austerity, and analyses China’s scientific and political response to the crisis. Horton questions how two of the richest, most powerful, and most scientifically advanced countries in the world (UK and USA) got it so wrong?
Horton accuses US President Donald Trump of committing a “crime against humanity” for defunding the WHO, and accuses UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson of either lying or committing misconduct in telling the public that the government was well prepared for the pandemic. The UK government abandoned the world standard advice to test, trace and isolate, in March, with no explanation, according to the review.
He also suggests that the scientists advising the UK government directly contributed to “the greatest science policy failure for a generation”. Independent scientists would “speak with one voice in support of government policy”, keeping up the facade that the country was doing well. In Horton’s view, this is a corruption of science policymaking at every level.
Horton also discusses other failures, and the successes of New Zealand and Kerala, India.