COVID-19 was not just a predictable crisis — it was predicted. An array of official guidelines for pandemic preparedness and response, from the World Health Organization and others, highlights just how seriously the threat was perceived. In the US, which currently has far more cases and deaths than any other country, the Obama administration notably left a 69-page pandemic ‘game plan’ in place for the incoming administration, to no avail. Fictional imaginings of global pandemics, meanwhile, have played out in the popular consciousness for decades.
Despite such warnings, there are understandable — if not acceptable — reasons for the profound failure to prepare for and, initially, to manage the COVID-19 crisis. These include the low probability of a pandemic in any given year