Apart from infecting over a million people and killing thousands across the globe, COVID-19 or the coronavirus pandemic has not only created a fear in the minds of human race but also exposed at how ill-prepared the nations were in tackling the pandemic of such might.
The United States of America, which has now become the new epicentre of the fatal virus, with the highest number of positive cases, over 400,000 and more than 14,500 deaths, is facing a grim future with its absolutely ill-preparedness to tackle the fatal virus.
Bush had predicted US ill-prepared to handle a pandemic
In the testing time for the US, beset with severe shortage of medical equipment including protection care for healthcare workers and unable to fight the pandemic, a speech of former US President George W Bush has gone viral recently.
During his speech at the National Institutes of Health in 2005, the former president had warned about being prepared for a pandemic. "It is vital that our nation discuss and address the threat of pandemic flu now. There is no pandemic flu in our country or in the world at this time — but if we wait for a pandemic to appear, it will be too late to prepare, and one day many lives could be needlessly lost because we failed to act today," he said in his address.
"At this moment, there is no pandemic influenza in the United States or the world. But if history is our guide, there is reason to be concerned. A pandemic is a lot like a forest fire: If caught early, it might be extinguished with limited damage; if allowed to smolder undetected, it can grow to an inferno that spreads quickly beyond our ability to control it," he added further.
Addressing the gathering at NIH, which also included Dr Anthony Fauci in the audience, Bush had stressed on the need of stockpiling medical supplies and equipment including ventilators, face masks, anti-viral drugs.
"To respond to a pandemic, we need medical personnel and adequate supplies of equipment. In a pandemic, everything from syringes to hospital beds, respirators masks and protective equipment would be in short supply," he went on.
Stressing on the need to develop vaccines while racing against time, Bush had said: "If a pandemic strikes, our country must have a surge capacity in place that will allow us to bring a new vaccine on line quickly and manufacture enough to immunize every American against the pandemic strain."
Bush took the cue of pandemic from a book on Spanish Flu on 1918
The farsightedness of the former US President about gearing up for a possible pandemic came after reading a book about the Spanish flu of 1918. In an interview with ABC News, Fran Townsend, former adviser on Homeland Security, while recalling his interaction with Bush said: "He said, 'Look, this happens every 100 years. We need a national strategy. He said to me, 'It may not happen on our watch, but the nation needs the plan.' "
"Thus was born the nation's most comprehensive pandemic plan -- a playbook that included diagrams for a global early warning system, funding to develop new, rapid vaccine technology, and a robust national stockpile of critical supplies, such as face masks and ventilators," Townsend said.
Speaking to Fox News, Karl Rove, former adviser also revealed about the pandemic preparation being a hot topic at the White House. "I've told people more than once during this last couple of months that as scary as the briefings were about the war on terror, the scariest briefings I had at the White House were about pandemics."
Bush had warned in his speech, saying: "If we wait for a pandemic to appear, it will be too late to prepare. And one day many lives could be needlessly lost because we failed to act today."
However, the current scenario where the US President Donald Trump is threatening countries to release medicines or hijacking the medical supplies and equipment meant for other countries, it appears that US was not at all prepared for the onslaught of a pandemic.