October 21, 2022 - 7:00am

Joe Biden announced his administration’s plans to combat future pandemics this week. Promising a game-changer to protect from the threat of future pathogens, the President asked Congress for $88 billion over five years to cover the initiative.

Biden plans to use this money to develop the U.S.’s capability to develop new vaccines, drugs and treatments in record time. The aim is for health officials to be able to develop tests within 12 hours, and a new vaccine which can be rolled out to the entire country within 130 days. The President also plans to support at least 50 countries in their systems to prevent, detect and respond to new outbreaks, and to work with donors to back a further 50 countries to do the same.

Haven’t we read this all before? In Bill Gates’s recent book, How to Prevent the Next Pandemic, the multi-billionaire set out his vision for future treatment of pandemics. This involved the government investing enormous sums in boosting health systems and vaccine production networks, as well as developing global health preparedness measures.

In other words, where Gates imagines, Biden delivers: while the President wants to vaccinate the whole of the U.S. in four months, Gates’s aim was to vaccinate the entire world in six (and to develop “a vaccine for the pathogen in 100 days”). Missing from Biden’s plans were the specifics of what would happen in those initial four months, but it doesn’t really matter as Gates has spelt it all out quite clearly in his book. The whole world will be plunged into lockdown “right away…now [that] we know how to do them better than we did before”, because “lockdowns have clear benefits for public health”. As scientists work around the clock to produce the new vaccines and drugs, the poor are consigned to misery and starvation

Also missing in the Biden plans was any acknowledgement of how this rips up the rulebook of public health before Covid-19. In this plan, it will be impossible for Stage 2 and 3 trials for the new vaccines, since, according to the President’s very own FDA, Stage 2 trials currently take anywhere up to two years, and Stage 3 trials anywhere up to four years. Of course, pretty soon safety testing will be rolled out, even if on the whole world’s population rather than on the trial groups with which vaccine development has hitherto been associated.

There was, however, one new aspect of the move. While the liberal press like the Guardian continues to label the Wuhan lab-leak theory as one which was developed by “conspiracy theorists”, it is clear that this is actually the mainstream theory now. As Politico reported, a senior official commented that the plan “lays out a strategy for preventing pandemics and biological incidents that come from accidental and deliberate sources, such as a lab leak.”

After two and a half years, the world is sick of Covid. But this mental and emotional exhaustion cannot blind us from what has happened. We must begin with an honest analysis of the unequal, militarised and dehumanising policies which the Covid-19 pandemic have ushered in worldwide. That is why the President’s plan must be resisted.

Toby Green is a Professor of History at King’s College, London. The updated edition of his book, The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Thomas Fazi, is published by Hurst.