The New England Journal of Medicine slammed America’s ‘dangerously incompetent’ politicians for their failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic and celled for Donald Trump to be voted out of office in a blistering editorial.
The editorial, released Wednesday, was an unprecedented move for the Journal which rarely publishes editorials signed by all the editors.
It does not endorse Joe Biden, but roundly denounces the approach of the Trump administration.
‘Crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy,’ the editorial, entitled ‘Dying in a Leadership Vacuum’, begins.
‘The magnitude of this failure is astonishing,’ the editors wrote, pointing to the fact that the US leads the world in COVID-19 cases with more than 7.5 million and 211,000 deaths.
‘Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment.
‘When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.’
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NEJM Editor-in-Chief Dr Eric Rubin, who was among the signatories of the editorial, explained the reasoning behind it in an interview with CNN.
‘The reason we’ve never published an editorial about elections is we’re not a political journal and I don’t think that we want to be a political journal – but the issue here is around fact, not around opinion. There have been many mistakes made that were not only foolish but reckless and I think we want people to realize that there are truths here, not just opinions,’ Rubin said.
‘For example, masks work. Social distancing works. Quarantine and isolation work. They’re not opinions. Deciding not to use them is maybe a political decision but trying to suggest that they’re not real is imaginary and dangerous. We don’t have the right leaders for this epidemic. I think we need better leadership.’
Since the Journal began publishing in 1812, there have only been four editorials signed by its editors.
Those include one in 2014 about contraception; an obituary for a former editor-in-chief; an editorial about standard-of-care research and one in 2019 about abortion.
Wednesday’s editorial highlights how other nations have ‘outperformed [the US] by orders of magnitude’ despite the fact that the US ‘came into this crisis with enormous advantages’.
‘Along with tremendous manufacturing capacity, we have a biomedical research system that is the envy of the world. We have enormous expertise in public health, health policy, and basic biology and have consistently been able to turn that expertise into new therapies and preventive measures. And much of that national expertise resides in government institutions. Yet our leaders have largely chosen to ignore and even denigrate experts,’ the editors wrote.
They concluded by urging readers to vote America’s ‘incompetent’ politicians out of office to make way for new ones who can better lead the country through the ongoing pandemic.
On Wednesday, President Trump declared that catching the coronavirus was a ‘blessing from God’ that exposed him to experimental treatments he vowed would become free for all Americans.
Video: Do liberals really believe Trump faked his COVID-19 diagnosis? (FOX News)
Eager to revitalize his ailing re-election campaign two days after his release from Walter Reed military hospital, the president repeatedly stressed how well he felt so far in his recovery from COVID-19.
EXCERPT FROM NEJM’S EDITORIAL
‘Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences.
‘Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment.
‘Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates. But truth is neither liberal nor conservative.
‘When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent.
‘We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.’
The excerpt above from Dying in a Leadership Vacuum was published with permission from NEJM
‘I think this was a blessing from God that I caught it. This was a blessing in disguise,’ Trump said, adding that his use of the medication from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc had allowed him to experience first-hand how effective it could be.
Trump, who has been widely criticized for a slow response to the pandemic and putting his own staff at risk by discouraging the use of masks in the White House and on the campaign trail, also cited similar medication from Eli Lilly and Co.
‘I want to get for you what I got. And I’m going to make it free,’ Trump said, at one point calling the unapproved medicine a ‘cure.’
Trump had been in his residence in the White House since his dramatic made-for-video return from Walter Reed in a helicopter on Monday night.
Trump, who faces Democrat Joe Biden in the November election, has had no COVID-19 symptoms for the past 24 hours, his doctor Sean Conley said in a statement.
‘He’s now been fever-free for more than four days, symptom-free for over 24 hours, and has not needed, nor received, any supplemental oxygen since initial hospitalization,’ Conley said.
Despite his illness, Trump has been looking for ways to get his election message out and cut into Biden’s lead in battleground states, advisers said. His video message appeared to be a step in that direction.
A speech to senior voters is being contemplated for Thursday, they said.
Aides say Trump is impatient to get back on the campaign trail and insistent on going ahead with the next debate on October 15 in Miami, but Biden said on Tuesday he will not participate if Trump is not virus-free.
The new claim on free medications came the day after Trump abruptly ended talks with Democrats on a new round of stimulus for a pandemic-pounded economy, with both sides far apart on how much money to devote to a deal.
Both Biden and the top Democrat in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accused Trump of abandoning needy Americans.
‘The president turned his back on you,’ Biden said in a Twitter post.
With layoffs in key industries mounting by the day and threatening the fragile recovery, Trump late on Tuesday urged Congress to quickly pass $25billion in funding for passenger airlines, $135billion for small businesses and provide $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans.
But White House officials on Wednesday downplayed the likelihood of any kind of stimulus being passed before the election.
Trump’s drive to get Judge Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the vacant seat on the Supreme Court by the Republican-controlled Senate before the election also may be in doubt, since three Republican senators infected with the virus may not be able to vote.
A wave of infections at the White House among Trump’s top lieutenants and press aides has left the West Wing struggling to find its footing. At least 19 people close to Trump have tested positive.
Trump has depicted himself as a man who vanquished the disease and emerged stronger, telling Americans not to be afraid of COVID-19.
The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted October 2 to 6, found that 38 per cent of adults approved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, while 56 per cent said they disapproved.
Although Trump long defied experts by holding out the possibility that a vaccine might be available before the election, he acknowledged in his video message that a vaccine would be out after the ballot because of ‘politics’.
Advisers say Trump wanted to be talking about other issues instead of the virus by this stage of the campaign, to put pressure on Biden.
Opinion polls show Trump down double digits, and Biden with sizeable leads in many swing states.