Editorials, Opinion Pieces Discuss Novel Coronavirus Outbreak, Epidemic Preparedness

Los Angeles Times: Editorial: Misinformation has become a secondary infection in the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
Editorial Board

“Scattered in with the legitimate news headlines circulating on social media regarding the deadly coronavirus outbreak are a worrisome number of fake news items and outright hoaxes. … Though rumors and misinformation have been a side effect of viral outbreaks for as long as humans have been plagued by them, social media networks now amplify irresponsible and hysterical memes that might otherwise remain on the fringes. … Clearly, the risk posed by the coronavirus is real. And there is no vaccine for it yet, though researchers are working to develop one. That means the best defense in the early stages of the outbreak is solid, trustworthy, science-based information. Kudos to the journalists, public health officials and social media platforms that are working to disinfect the false outbreak memes and inoculate the information channels with authentic and helpful information from actual health professionals” (1/30).

New York Times: Is the World Ready for the Coronavirus?
Editorial Board

“…Given the scope of these anxieties [surrounding the novel coronavirus outbreak], it’s a wonder more hasn’t been done to prepare for an outbreak like this one. … [T]rust may prove at least as important as technology and financial resources in keeping the coronavirus outbreak at bay — as global health workers learned during recent Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo. American officials ought to keep that hard-learned lesson in mind. … What happens if people stop trusting the institutions meant to protect them from natural disasters, faulty medical products, or disease outbreaks? If the coronavirus proves especially contagious or deadly, that question will no longer be hypothetical. Nor will the consequences of an ‘America First’ worldview that treats global health security as unnecessary. … To its credit, the administration has managed to keep some of the world’s leading infectious disease experts in key roles at top agencies … If those professionals are given the resources and authority to respond to the crisis as their experience and the science dictate — if they are empowered to develop vaccines, deploy experts, and collaborate with response teams in affected regions — the worst-case scenarios may yet be averted. One hopes that will be the case. If so, the United States and the rest of the world will do well to learn from this experience. It will almost certainly not be the last time the world faces such a crisis” (1/29).

Washington Post: China tried to keep a lid on the coronavirus. It put everyone at risk.
Editorial Board

“Compared with the response in some previous outbreaks, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and swine flu in 2009, biomedical detective work got underway quickly in China in December, when people began to suffer a pneumonia-like illness. … But during all the weeks of this activity in December, Beijing largely kept the lid on information. It did not alert the public until well into January. The thought police were still on the beat, even as the virus spread. … The common reactions of Chinese leaders to crisis — strict secrecy, media censorship, desperate attempts to protect ‘stability’ and slavish adherence to central authority — were evident throughout the early period of the crisis, according to a detailed insider account published by the China Media Project. … This is the Chinese one-party state at work, worried less about people and more about permissions. … If there is anything positive to come of this, it is the vibrant grassroots reaction. China’s social media is afire with concern, despite the censors…” (1/29).

Bloomberg: China Had a Doctor Crisis Before Coronavirus Hit
Adam Minter, Bloomberg opinion columnist (1/28).

New York Times: Coronavirus Spreads, and the World Pays for China’s Dictatorship
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times opinion columnist (1/29).

New York Times: Beware the Pandemic Panic
Farhan Manjoo, New York Times opinion columnist (1/29).

Scientific American: Want to Prevent Another Coronavirus Epidemic?
William Haseltine, chair and president of ACCESS Health International (1/29).

The Telegraph: This could be the ‘disease X’ health experts fear — but we should have a test vaccine in just 16 weeks
Richard Hatchett, chief executive of CEPI (1/28).