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Watch former president Barack Obama urge America to prepare for a pandemic six years ago

Addressing a packed auditorium at the NIH Clinical Center in 2014, Obama praised the contributions of NIH staff and highlighted the need for investing in research and preparing the nation for any possible outbreaks.

Watch former president Barack Obama urge America to prepare for a pandemic six years ago
Cover Image Source: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks to congratulate the first published results from Phase 1 clinical trials of a promising Ebola vaccine candidate at the National Institutes of Health December 2, 2014, in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Trump administration’s botched response to the pandemic has become one of the most heated topics of discussion these days. With the death toll rising as each day passes, many wonder how many lives could've been saved if the President had taken heed of the glaringly obvious warning signs and enforced necessary measures to curb the spread of the virus. Instead of preparing the nation for the health and economic crisis that was to come, Trump spent the initial days of the outbreak downplaying the crisis as nothing more than a Democratic hoax.



 

 

However, the former TV host's too-little-too-late response to the novel Coronavirus outbreak didn't begin with his administration's failure to provide adequate test kits and protective medical gear for health care workers. Nor was the President's hasty attempt to reopen the economy by Easter the point where everything went wrong. Rather, according to Vox, the Trump administration set these disastrous series of events in motion back in April 2018 when it began dismantling the team in charge of pandemic response and fired its leadership.



 

 

This move, along with the administration's repeated calls to cut the CDC's and other public health agencies' funding, made it evident that preparing for possible disease outbreaks wasn't a priority for this government. And yet, when the time to take accountability, Trump played his favorite 'Blame it on Obama' card.



 

 

However, this time the internet was prepared for Trump's usual tactic and countered it with a video clip from 2014 when President Obama visited the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland, to call for more funding for Ebola research. According to the fact-checking website, Snopes, he addressed a packed auditorium at the NIH Clinical Center that day, praising the contributions of NIH staff and highlighting the need for investing in research and preparing the nation for any possible outbreaks—such as the Coronavirus pandemic.

Image Source: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) listens to Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci (3rd L) as Chief of the Biodefense Research Section Nancy Sullivan (L) and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell (2nd L) look on as he tours the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health December 2, 2014, in Bethesda, Maryland. President Obama visited the facility to discuss the ongoing fight against Ebola. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

 

"There may and likely will come a time in which we have both an airborne disease that is deadly.  And in order for us to deal with that effectively, we have to put in place an infrastructure -- not just here at home, but globally -- that allows us to see it quickly, isolate it quickly, respond to it quickly," Obama said at the time. "And it also requires us to continue the same path of basic research that is being done here at NIH."

 



 

 

"So that if and when a new strain of flu, like the Spanish flu, crops up five years from now or a decade from now, we’ve made the investment and we’re further along to be able to catch it.  It is a smart investment for us to make.  It’s not just insurance; it is knowing that down the road we’re going to continue to have problems like this -- particularly in a globalized world where you move from one side of the world to the other in a day," he continued. "So this is important now, but it’s also important for our future and our children’s future and our grandchildren’s future."



 

 

Two years after this speech, the Obama administration established the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense at the National Security Council. According to The Washington Post, although the directorate survived the early part of Trump’s presidency, when John Bolton became the President's third national security adviser, he folded the global health directorate into a new one that focused on counterproliferation and biodefense. When asked if this was a mistake during a congressional hearing on March 11, Dr. Anthony Fauci diplomatically replied, "I wouldn’t necessarily characterize it as a mistake. I would say we worked very well with that office. It would be nice if the office was still there."



 

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