"Contrary to Trump’s Claim, A Pandemic Was Widely Expected at Some Point"

"At a White House briefing March 19, President Donald Trump said, “Nobody knew there’d be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion.” But that’s simply not the case.

Among others, the U.S. intelligence community warned in its annual threat report for 2019 that “that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death.”

The president made his remarks at a coronavirus task force press briefing. Trump deflected the blame when asked about the lack of coronavirus tests and medical supplies to deal with the pandemic."

Rem Rieder reports for FactCheck March 20, 2020.


The entire science of epidemiology has grown over nearly two centuries to address the repeated challenges of contagious diseases. As a result of a history of tragic experiences, epidemiologists have been warning societies and coaching them on how to avoid epidemics for many years. The warnings of a possible pandemic given to the Trump administration since its start have been many -- and largely ignored.

Science journalists can be proud of their colleagues who have consistently translated the warnings of epidemiologists into plain language for wide publication. Three worth special mention are Laurie Garrett, Helen Branswell, and Ed Yong -- but there are more.

"The World Knows an Apocalyptic Pandemic Is Coming" (Foreign Policy: 9/20/2019)

"The Medical News Site That Saw the Coronavirus Coming Months Ago" (New York Times)

"The Next Plague Is Coming. Is America Ready?" (Atlantic: 7/2018)

"How a Blogger In Florida Put Out An Early Warning About The Coronavirus Crisis" (Washington Post)

"Trump Says 'Nobody' Could've Predicted A Pandemic Like Coronavirus. Here Are All The Times He Was Warned About It And Refused To Take Action." (Business Insider)

"Dr. Fauci Revealed His Fears Of A 'Surprise Outbreak' Back In 2017 And Warned The Upcoming Trump Administration Would Face 'Challenges' With Infectious Diseases In A Georgetown Speech" (Daily Mail)

"Is the US Ready For The Next Big Pandemic?" (PRI/Science Friday: 3/12/2016)

"“Prepare, Prepare, Prepare”: Why Didn’t the World Listen to the Coronavirus Cassandras?" (Vanity Fair)

"Lessons From the 1918 Flu" (TED Talk)

"Is the World Ready to Respond to the Next Influenza Pandemic?" (National Center for Biotechnology Information)

"The Next Pandemic?" (Foreign Affairs: 7/2005)

"Preparing for the Next Pandemic" (Foreign Affairs: 7/2005)

"Preparing for Pandemics" (World Health Organization)

"A top White House official warned in January that a pandemic could imperil millions of Americans." (New York Times)

"Trade Adviser Warned White House in January of Risks of a Pandemic" (New York Times)

"Exclusive: The Military Knew Years Ago That a Coronavirus Was Coming" (The Nation)

"White House Economists Warned in 2019 a Pandemic Could Devastate America" (New York Times)

"Trump Said “Nobody Could Have Predicted” Coronavirus. White House Memos Show His Advisers Did." (Vox)

"The U.S. Government Must Prepare Now for the Next Pandemic" (Foreign Policy)

"The World Is Not Ready for the Next Pandemic" (TIME: 5/4/2017)

"The Trump Administration Is Stalling an Intel Report That Warns the U.S. Isn’t Ready for a Global Pandemic" (TIME)

Source: FactCheck, 04/08/2020