Pandemics are inherently political. Take, for example, the global effort that was required to eradicate smallpox in 1980. The immunization campaign, led by the World Health Organization, demanded international cooperation on an unprecedented scale. Should another pandemic break out, nations must be prepared to collaborate meaningfully in order to eradicate it. (Anyone who has played the board game Pandemic knows this.)
So, is Trump’s America up to the task? Writer Ed Yong doesn’t think so. “[Trump’s] nationalism could be catastrophic because diseases demand global cooperation,” he says in a new animated video based on his recent Atlantic article, “When the Next Plague Hits.” To illustrate Trump’s potential inability to effectively deal with a global pandemic, Yong points to the president’s xenophobic response to the Ebola outbreak—and contrasts it with that of New York City’s health commissioner Mary T. Bassett, who mitigated public panic and fought against discrimination.