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Commentary By Reihan Salam

Preventing the Next Pandemic

Congress should fund innovative public–private partnerships now

The toll of the Covid-19 pandemic has been immense. Over 1 million Americans have died from the virus, many more suffered serious short- and long-term illness, and many millions more have seen their lives disrupted by the measures meant to contain it. Drug- and alcohol-related deaths have soared, as have homicides and fatal car crashes. Where public schools remained closed, students have lost the equivalent of between 13 and 22 weeks of instruction, with the worst results concentrated among poor and minority students. Many students have simply lost contact with the system. And that’s to say nothing of the more intangible effects of the pandemic, including the psychological devastation it has wrought on America’s youth. 

Covid-19 also has led to an unprecedented increase in federal spending, further worsening America’s entitlement-fueled debt-to-GDP ratio and making fiscal policy vulnerable to higher interest rates from inflation. During the pandemic, the federal government has spent some $6 trillion on a raft of measures, some wiser than others, designed to forestall an economic depression. The result is that our fiscal breathing room has been greatly diminished, just as retiring Baby Boomers and renewed great-power competition are poised to send federal deficits skyrocketing. 

Now consider what would happen if we were hit by another pandemic and another round of lockdowns. Can anyone doubt that the panic and loss of liberty this would entail would endanger our nation’s parlous civic and fiscal health, not to mention our sanity? 

Continue reading the entire piece here at National Review (paywall)


Reihan Salam is the president of the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here.

This piece originally appeared in National Review