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The Vaccine Time line.

First let’s clear the decks of rationality. I am no medical expert. My real beef is with the calamitous White House looking for a miracle escape like a starving dinosaur gnawing at its own tail. But I am a strategic leadership coach, and I have worked with 4 UK and EU administrations and many companies through crisis situations over the last 40 years. So here is my thought process – four steps and a conclusion:

  1. We were unprepared. No worries. it is in the nature of a black swan event that we are unprepared. However this realization comes with an overwhelming need to learn and to hasten deliberately across a broad front. So look to collaborate, to mutual self help, to building on each other’s skills and learning.
  2. We did not establish learning. In particular the likely steps would have been to investigate the onset of the disease, establish the critical time lines, identify the optimal steps from identification (testing and contact tracing), to containment (masks, distance management) to first response (beds, respirators) to remedies and then vaccine (global collaboration of research, manufacture).
  3. We had no plan. Given the global scale of the pandemic this would focus on managing the immediate challenges, coordinating across different towns, cities and states in America, ensuring  throughout a valid and complete statistical testing ground. We would want to liaise and collaborate with allies and other nations especially with their centers of research, manufacture and logistics . That would create the platform for global research and manufacture coordination, learning and funding. And finally we would want to help establish global regulations on travel, and progress to support regions most at risk.
  4.  We are not communicating. We must provide a clear time line for action, target deliverables along the way and then we must report on progress factually, truthfully and in a timely manner.

We can do all this. We can provide much needed global leadership. We can build on and help our friends everywhere.

But we are doing none of this. instead we are covering up, blaming others, creating misdirection and lying. Faced with a real and present danger we are focusing on irrelevant alternative truths. Time is slipping by. We are already in month 5. The reality is a tough one. Vaccines are difficult to find. There is still none for HIV, the supply chain is long, complex and global. the best researchers are spread from China, India and Europe to the United States. The leading sources of manufacture are likewise spread around. The timeline will be measured in decades unless we suit our reaction to the nature of the need – global, open, collaborative and mutually trusting.

It is in this context that we should view the actions of our own leadership. The White House has abrogated responsibility at home and is contrarily counting on a medieval mix of magic, isolationism, hopeful home brew and one off deals that are failing as fast as they are inappropriate. This leadership vacuum has meant that individual towns, cities and states within our nation  are implementing different time lines and protocols. That is no basis for statistical monitoring. They will provide no platform for mutual learning and of course there is massive scope for costly overlap, for unintended blind spots. We have coupled this leadership incompetence at home with an ill timed determination to disrupt 75 years of hard won international diplomacy and respect abroad.

If the United States looks like a famished dinosaur cannibalizing itself, it is doing this whilst swatting away the opportunity to step quickly into a new world of potentially real achievement and plenty. It is hard to see anything but a lengthy time line – unless another nation or group of nations can come up with something. The United States need a change in leadership.

Have a good day, James.