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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may have caught governments by surprise, but medical and public health communities have long warned of the potential for a high-consequence pandemic. Most recently, in September 2019, a report by the independent Global Preparedness Monitoring Board urged political leaders to take steps in their countries to improve preparedness for such events.1 One month later, the Global Health Security (GHS) Index, a framework for benchmarking health security in 195 countries, found that no country was fully prepared for a major health emergency.2 The Index identified serious weaknesses in many countries that could undermine their ability to respond to a pandemic, but it did not anticipate the poor response to the pandemic by high-scoring countries such as the US where major gaps in federal leadership resulted in a failure to mobilize the country’s substantial capacity.
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Nuzzo JB, Bell JA, Cameron EE. Suboptimal US Response to COVID-19 Despite Robust Capabilities and Resources. JAMA. 2020;324(14):1391–1392. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.17395
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