Fealty Trumps Truth


The figure above shows published estimates of “R naught” (or R0) a measure of the contagiousness of coronavirus (from Liu et al. 2020, published 13 Feb). The figure shows that 13 different estimates of R0 were published during the month of January 2020, and these estimates ranged from ~2 to >6, indicating that coronavirus was highly contagious.

Thus, when Dr. Deborah Birx said today that “it wasn’t until the beginning of March that we could all fully see how contagious this virus was” she is either lying or revealing complete incompetence. Strong words, yes, but there is no other choice. Dr. Birx is a political appointee by Donald Trump and it appears that fealty trumps truth.

See the comments of Dr. Birx below.

Did the Trump Administration Delay the WHO Emergency Declaration?


Yesterday in the White House Rose Garden, President Trump announced that the U.S. government would be suspending payments to the World Health Organization. Among the president’s complaints was this: “The delays the WHO experienced in declaring a public health emergency caused valuable time, tremendous amounts of time.”

Here I take a look at this claim, and conclude that the United States government either contributed to the delay in the WHO emergency declaration or the US government outsourced its decision to the WHO to declare a domestic emergency declaration — which occurred only after the WHO eventually declared a global emergency.

Let’s look at the facts.

Continue reading “Did the Trump Administration Delay the WHO Emergency Declaration?”

Eight Weeks Behind: Clarifying the Early U.S. Coronavirus Testing Failure


Bottom line: It is normal for the US government to develop its own disease testing under CDC. Experts in CDC are typically very good at it. But in the case of coronavirus, the US government developed a flawed test, creating lengthy delays in testing and in parallel left obstacles in place that would have shortened the delay. Meanwhile, U.S. government officials have repeatedly misled the public and policy makers. In total, more than 8 weeks were lost due to policy failure. This post explains and documents this remarkable policy failure.

Continue reading “Eight Weeks Behind: Clarifying the Early U.S. Coronavirus Testing Failure”

Covid-19 Resources for Research and Teaching: Pielke Analysis and Commentary

Podcast: COVID Knowledge, Technology, and Politics: Dispatches from Around the World (20 April)

Pielke, Jr. R. 2020. Fealty Trumps Truth, 19 April.

Pielke, Jr., R. 2020. Did the Trump Administration Delay the WHO Emergency Declaration? 15 April.

Pielke, Jr. R. 2020. Eight Weeks Behind: Clarifying the Early U.S. Coronavirus Testing Failure, 13 April.

Pielke, Jr., R. 2020. Why Isn’t the White House Using the Nation’s Pandemic Experts? Slate, 10 April.

Covid-19 Resources for Research and Teaching


This set of resources related to Coronavirus and COVID-19 is focused on science advice and policy evaluation. It is intended to support my professional research and teaching, and if you find it useful, so much the better. It is the next iteration of an earlier syllabus, that became too unwieldy due to the amount of materials.

Updated 20 April 2020

Pielke Analysis and Commentary

Current COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Scenarios and Dynamics

Models and Forecasts

Science Advice and Emergency Situations

COVID-19 Policy Options and Evaluation

United States Pandemic Policy and Planning

Unheeded Warnings

Pandemics, Society, Politics and Policy Dynamics

Pandemics, SARS-Cov-2 and Relevant Research

Tools and Training

Covid-19 Resources for Research and Teaching: COVID-19 Policy Options and Evaluation

DeYoung, K. et al. 2020. Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration, The Washington Post, 19 April.

Weaver, C. and R. Balhaus. 2020. Coronavirus Testing Hampered by Disarray, Shortages, Backlogs, The Wall Street Journal, 19 April.

Calvert, J. et al. 2020. Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster, The Sunday Times, 19 April. (archive)  (British government response – link)

Willman, D. 2020. Contamination at CDC lab delayed rollout of coronavirus tests, The Washington Post, 18 April.

Borger, J. 2020. Caught in a superpower struggle: the inside story of the WHO’s response to coronavirus, The Guardian, 18 April.

Rivers, C. et al. 2020. Public Health Principles for a Phased Reopening During COVID-19: Guidance for Governors, The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, 17 April. (PDF)

Forster, P. and M. Pooler, 2020. Muddled thinking punctures plan for British ventilator, Financial Times, 17 April. (British government response – link)

Times of Israel, 2020. US alerted Israel, NATO to disease outbreak in China in November — TV report, Times of Israel, 16 April.

Kluth, A. 2020. Meticulous and Orderly, Germany Can Handle a Pandemic, Bloomberg Opinion, 15 April.

Lipton, E. et al. 2020. He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus, The New York Times, 11 April. (Note: A scientist in the Red Dawn email discussion cited here has an interesting story: link)

Greely, H. 2020. Covid-19 ‘immunity certificates’: practical and ethical conundrums, Stat, 10 April.

Sun, L. et al. 2020. A plan to defeat coronavirus finally emerges, but it’s not from the White House, The Washington Post, 10 April.

Khamsi, R. 2020. If a coronavirus vaccine arrives, can the world make enough? Nature, 9 April.

Le, T. et al. 2020. The COVID-19 vaccine development landscape, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 9 April.

Ortega, B. et al. 2020. How the government delayed coronavirus testing, CNN, 9 April.

Richardson, L. 2020. Universities Fill the Void Working Across Borders to Solve the Pandemic Where International Institutions Have Failed, Foreign Policy, 9 April.

Tony Blair Institute, 2020. Covid-19 Testing in the UK: Unpicking the Lockdown, 6 April (link)

Center for Economic Policy Research, 2020. Covid Economics: Vetted and Real-Time Papers (link)

Abele-Brehm, A. et al. 2020. Making the Fight against the Coronavirus Pandemic Sustainable, ifo Institute, April.

Elliot, J. et al. 2020. How New York City’s Emergency Ventilator Stockpile Ended Up on the Auction Block, ProPublica, 6 April.

Partensky, P. 2020. To Beat the Coronavirus, Raise an Army of the Recovered, Wired, 5 April.

Balz, D. 2020. America was unprepared for a major crisis. Again., The Washington Post, 4 April.

Abutaleb, Y. et al. 2020. The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged, The Washington Post, 4 April.

Roberts, J. 2020. Five things you need to know about: mRNA vaccines, Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine, 1 April.

Wallach, P. and J. Myers, 2020. The federal government’s coronavirus response—Public health timeline, Brookings Institution, 31 March.

Peeples, L. 2020. News Feature: Avoiding pitfalls in the pursuit of a COVID-19 vaccine, PNAS, 30 March.

Gottlieb, S. et al. 2020. National coronavirus response: A road map to reopening, American Enterprise Institute, 29 March.

Kissler, S. et al. 2020. Social distancing strategies for curbing the COVID-19 epidemic medRxiv 2020.03.22.20041079; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.22.20041079

Greenstone, Michael and Nigam, Vishan, Does Social Distancing Matter? (March 25, 2020). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2020-26.

Kissler, S. et al. 2020. Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the post-pandemic period, medRxiv, 6 March.

Prem, K. et al. 2020. The effect of control strategies to reduce social mixing on outcomes of the COVID-19 epidemic in Wuhan, China: a modelling studyThe Lancethttps://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(20)30073-6

Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (link)

Group of Concerned Economists, 2020. The COVID-19 crisis calls for pre-emptive monitoring of production and distribution chainsVoxEU, 24 March.

Horowitz, J. 2020. In Italy, Going Back to Work May Depend on Having the Right Antibodies, New York Times, 4 April.

Van Bavel et al. 2020. Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response, PsyArXiv, 24 March.

Emanuel, E. et al. 2020. Fair Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources in the Time of Covid-19New England Journal of Medicine, 23 March.

Milanovic, B. 2020. The Real Pandemic Danger Is Social Collapse As the Global Economy Comes Apart, Societies May, TooForeign Affairs, 19 March.

Kraemer, M. et al. 2020. The effect of human mobility and control measures on the COVID-19 epidemic in ChinaScience, DOI: 10.1126/science.abb4218

M. Chinazzi et al., The effect of travel restrictions on the spread of the 2019
novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreakScience 10.1126/science.aba9757 (2020).

Riou, J., & Althaus, C. L. (2020). Pattern of early human-to-human transmission of Wuhan 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), December 2019 to January 2020Eurosurveillance, 25(4).

Rosenbaum, L. 2020. Facing Covid-19 in Italy — Ethics, Logistics, and Therapeutics on the Epidemic’s Front LineNew England Journal of Medicine, 18 March.

Covid-19 Resources for Research and Teaching: Pandemics, Society, Politics and Policy Dynamics

Kelly, J. 2020. Why are we really in lockdown? FT Alphaville, 17 April.

Ridley, M. 2020. The Bats Behind the Epidemic, Wall Street Journal, 9 April.

Jorda, O. et al. 2020. Longer-Run Economic Consequences of Pandemics, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, March.

Correia, Sergio and Luck, Stephan and Verner, Emil, Pandemics Depress the Economy, Public Health Interventions Do Not: Evidence from the 1918 Flu (March 26, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Assve, A. et al. 2020. Pandemics and social capital: From the Spanish flu of 1918-19 to COVID-19, VoxEu, 22 March.

Nerlich, B. (2007). Media, metaphors and modelling: How the UK newspapers reported the epidemiological modelling controversy during the 2001 foot and mouth outbreakScience, technology, & human values32(4), 432-457.

McCoy, C. A. (2016). SARS, pandemic influenza and Ebola: The disease control styles of Britain and the United StatesSocial Theory & Health14(1), 1-17.

Elbe, S., Leach, M., and Scoones, I. (2013). Pandemic Flu Controversies: What have we learned? Reflections from a workshop to discuss lessons, policy implications and future challenges. STEPS Centre and Centre for Global Health Policy, University of Sussex, Brighton. (PDF)

Safford, T. et al. 2017.The Zika Virus Threat: How Concerns About Scientists May Undermine Efforts to Combat the Pandemic, Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire.

Versluis, E., van Asselt, M., & Kim, J. (2019). The multilevel regulation of complex policy problems: uncertainty and the swine flu pandemic. European Policy Analysis, 5(1), 80-98.

Bjørkdahl, K., & Carlsen, B. (Eds.). (2018). Pandemics, Publics, and Politics: Staging Responses to Public Health Crises. Springer.

Fan, V. Y., Jamison, D. T., & Summers, L. H. (2018). Pandemic risk: how large are the expected losses?. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 96(2), 129.

Covid-19 Resources for Research and Teaching: COVID-19 Scenarios and Dynamics

International Survey on Coronavirus (link)

Motta, M., Stecula, D., & Farhart, C. E. (2020, April 18). How Right-Leaning Media Coverage of COVID-19 Facilitated the Spread of Misinformation in the Early Stages of the Pandemic. SocArXiv https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/a8r3p

Parker, A. et al. 2020. Trump administration has many task forces — but still no plan for beating covid-19, The Washington Post, 11 April.

Weeden, K. and B. Cornwall, 2020. The Small World Network of College Classes: Implications for Epidemic Spread on a University Campus, OSF, 11 April.  (link)

Silver, N. 2020. Coronavirus Case Counts Are Meaningless* *Unless you know something about testing. And even then, it gets complicated, FiveThirtyEight, 4 April.

Eder et al. 2020. 430,000 People Have Traveled From China to U.S. Since Coronavirus Surfaced, The New York Times, 4 April.

Warzel, C. 2020. What We Pretend to Know About the Coronavirus Could Kill Us, The New York Times, 3 April.

Romer, P. and R. Shah, 2020. Testing Is Our Way Out, The Wall Street Journal, 2 April.

Josepth, A. 2020. The next frontier in coronavirus testing: Identifying the full scope of the pandemic, not just individual infections, STAT News, 27 March.

Yong, E. 2020. How The Pandemic Will End, The Atlantic, 25 March.

Atkeson, A. 2020. What Will Be the Economic Impact of COVID-19 in the US? Rough Estimates of Disease Scenarios, NBER Working Paper No. 26867.

Eichenbaum, M. et al. 2020. The Macroeconomics of Epidemics, NBER Working Paper No. 26882.

Barro, R. et al. 2020. The Coronavirus and the Great Influenza Pandemic: Lessons from the “Spanish Flu” for the Coronavirus’s Potential Effects on Mortality and Economic Activity, NBER Working Paper No. 26866.

Azzoni, T. and A. Dampf, 2020. Game Zero: Spread of virus linked to Champions League match, Associated Press, 25 March.

McKibbin, W. J., & Fernando, R. (2020). The global macroeconomic impacts of COVID-19: Seven scenarios. Brookings Institution. (PDF)

Baldwin, R., & di Mauro, B. W. (2020). Economics in the Time of COVID-19. Center for European Policy Research (PDF)

Baldwin, R., & di Mauro, B. W. (2020). Mitigating the COVID Economic Crisis: Act Fast and Do Whatever It Takes. Center for European Policy Research (PDF)

Beale, R. 2020. Wash Your Hands, London Review of Books, 19 March.

Fauci, et al. 2020, Covid-19 — Navigating the Uncharted, New England Journal of Medicine, 28 February.


Covid-19 Resources for Research and Teaching: Pandemics, SARS-Cov-2 and Relevant Research

Howard, J., Huang, A., Li, Z., Tufekci, Z., Zdimal, V., van der Westhuizen, H.M., von Delft, A., Price, A., Fridman, L., Tang, L.H. and Tang, V., 2020. Face masks against COVID-19: an evidence review, Preprints, 12 April.

Forster, P., Forster, L., Renfrew, C., & Forster, M. (2020). Phylogenetic network analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 8 April.

Yazdany, J. et al. 2020. Use of Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine During the COVID-19 Pandemic: What Every Clinician Should Know, Annals of Internal Medicine, 31 March.

Marcus, A. and I. Oransky, 2020. The Science of This Pandemic Is Moving at Dangerous Speeds, Wired, 28 March.

Andersen, K. G., Rambaut, A., Lipkin, W. I., Holmes, E. C., & Garry, R. F. (2020). The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nature Medicine, 17 March.

Liu, Y., Gayle, A. A., Wilder-Smith, A., & Rocklöv, J. (2020). The reproductive number of COVID-19 is higher compared to SARS coronavirusJournal of travel medicine.

Scarpino, S. V., & Petri, G. (2019). On the predictability of infectious disease outbreaks. Nature communications10(1), 1-8.

Saunders-Hastings, P. R., & Krewski, D. (2016). Reviewing the history of pandemic influenza: understanding patterns of emergence and transmissionPathogens5(4), 66.

Lloyd-Smith, J. O., Schreiber, S. J., Kopp, P. E., & Getz, W. M. (2005). Superspreading and the effect of individual variation on disease emergenceNature438(7066), 355-359.

Heesterbeek, J. A. P. (2002). A brief history of R 0 and a recipe for its calculationActa biotheoretica50(3), 189-204.

Global Health Security Initiative (link)

Global Health Security Agenda (link)

Global Health Security Index (link)

Hong Kong University COVID-19 Resource page (link)

Covid-19 Resources for Research and Teaching: Current COVID-19 Information

Dong, E., Du, H., & Gardner, L. (2020). An interactive web-based dashboard to track COVID-19 in real time. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Dashboard: here

US CDC COVID-19 Situation Summary (here)

WHO COVID-19 Situation reports (here)

Imperial College London COVID-19 Reports (link)

Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, COVID-19 Resources (link)

Coronavirus simulator (link)

Epidemic calculator (link)

Our World in Data COVID-19 (link)

A Users Guide to COVID-19, London Business School (link)

The COVID Tracking Project (US, link)

IHME Covid-19 Projections (link) based on: IHME COVID-19 health service utilization forecasting team. Forecasting COVID-19 impact on hospital bed-days, ICU-days, ventilator days and deaths by US state in the next 4 months. MedRxiv. 26 March 2020.