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Blame game has dangerous effect

Why are so many public officials rushing to close public schools and ban big gatherings?

Why are some companies planning to tell employees that if they sneeze once, they’ll be sent home?

And why can’t the drug companies hurry up with coronavirus tests, vaccines and drugs to treat symptoms?

Welcome to the blame game. If you suspect that it’s causing as much harm as it is providing help, you may be a winner.

Don’t get me wrong: I know too many public servants, both locally and at the state level, not to believe they are worried sincerely about their constituents. Ditto for the corporate world.

COVID-19, the coronavirus, is bad stuff. It already has killed thousands around the world. No American government official or company executive wants to lose between 1% and 4% of his or her constituents or employees.

Compassion really is the top priority in the decision-making process.

But COVID-19 needs to be put in perspective. At this writing, the disease had killed about 5,000 people worldwide. Common influenza this season alone has claimed at least 20,000 lives, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated.

Which brings the blame game up: You may remember a few years ago when the federal government, whose scientists tell drug companies what kinds of flu vaccine to manufacture, caught holy hell because the lab folks had guessed wrong. That year’s vaccine didn’t protect against all the right strains of flu.

Already — see criticism of President Donald Trump’s actions — some politicians are playing the blame game. Can you blame a governor for thinking that if he doesn’t act decisively right now, he’ll be blamed for anyone who dies of COVID-19 in his state?

Back to the drug companies. A substantial portion of their expenses involves trying to guard against lawsuits. Produce a COVID-19 test that results in too many false negatives, and guess who gets sued?

Distribute a vaccine that has serious side-effect — ones that didn’t show up in preproduction testing — and watch the trial lawyers line up.

Is it any wonder that distribution of some drugs is delayed by months, even years, so companies can test, re-test and re-test again? And, not just incidentally, do you wonder why the Food and Drug Administration sometimes takes its good old time in approving drugs?

Meanwhile, demand that the government do something about delays.

COVID-19 isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last in which the blame game has an oversized, possibly dangerous, effect.

— Myer can be contacted at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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