"Meteorologists Are 50 Years Ahead of Public Health"

Dr. Cliff Mass of the University of Washington has posted an outstanding analysis comparing weather forecasting to disease forecasting. I highly recommend it; you can read it here.

I would like to take Cliff's analysis a bit further:
  • In addition to making accurate forecasts of Sandy's path and intensity, meteorologists knew what instructions to give people to save their lives. With one (big) exception, there wasn't any "wear a mask, don't wear a mask, etc." We knew what would work because we researched it. 
  • The huge mistake was when Mayor Bloomberg decided to "play meteorologist" and downplay the threat posed by Sandy. I wrote about it at the time, here. It is quite possible that mistake by the mayor cost lives. Politicians imposing themselves into science is almost always a a bad idea. 
There is one other aspect in the Sandy comparison I wish to mention: The National Weather Service got hung up on whether Sandy would or would not be a hurricane at landfall and never issued an official hurricane warning. That technical issue (an official hurricane warning was never issued) was fixed by broadcast, media and private sector meteorologists on the ground who spoke out and told people exactly what to do. As Cliff indicates, thousands of lives were saved. 

While I cannot vouch for all of medicine, I have had a couple of conversations with medical professionals who give the impression they are afraid to speak out on how to best protect ourselves from COVID-19. 

What is especially bitter is we spend far more on medicine and diseases than we do on weather science. It isn't even close. This is why I have called for a complete redo of CDC and related agencies. Otherwise, this will continue to happen as new disease threats emerge. 


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