Betsy McCaughey

Betsy McCaughey


As bird flu spreads, the Biden admin remains dangerously unprepared for another pandemic

The H5N1 virus — which for 30 years affected mostly birds — is rapidly evolving and spreading globally.

The Biden administration is dangerously unready.

Over the last two years, H5N1 has jumped from birds to mammals, sickening some 30 species.

South American scientists publishing in the prestigious journal Nature report massive “sea lion die-offs” and warn about “mutations of concern” “potentially evolving into the next global pandemic.”

Here in the United States, dairy cows, never before vulnerable to bird flu, are infected in six states.

Is the public in danger?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk is “low” but is advising states to be ready with rapid tests.

In the United States, only two human cases have been reported. Neither person died.

But nearly 1,000 people in other parts of the world have contracted the virus — almost always from touching a sick or dead bird or bird feces. Half died.

Some food-safety experts caution against eating runny egg yolks, cheeses made with raw milk and foods made with uncooked eggs.

There are too many unknowns to predict whether H5N1 will kill people here.

It seems unlikely, but better to be prepared. 

Here’s what needs to change:

Don’t censure the scientists

Like H5N1, COVID-19 was full of unknowns. 

The federal government’s biggest mistake was to aim for an illusion of consensus — rather than welcoming debate. 

The feds silenced anyone, including scientists, who disagreed.

The result was a long string of deadly mistakes, from shuttering businesses to mandatory masking to school closures.

Stanford health professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and former Harvard medical professor Martin Kulldorff coauthored the Great Barrington Declaration in October 2020 showing that protecting the elderly and vulnerable, rather than shutting down the entire nation, would save more lives. 

Within hours, federal bigwigs Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci launched a smear campaign to label Bhattacharya and his fellow signers “fringe epidemiologists.”

Worse, the CDC and Department of Homeland Security conspired with major social-media platforms such as YouTube and Twitter (now X) to keep the public from hearing from the government’s critics.

Censored scientists sued. The case, Murthy v. Missouri, is before the US Supreme Court.

The Biden administration is taking the wrong side, claiming censorship protects the nation from “disinformation.”

That’s a sign the administration can’t be trusted to tell us the truth during the next health scare.

Create a domestic supply chain for hospital supplies

When COVID-19 struck, the United States was caught short of masks, respirators and other hospital gear.

One-third of America’s imported medical supplies for COVID came from China.

In early 2020, the Chinese Communist Party nationalized medical supplies, cutting off exports.

US shortages continue even now.

On Nov. 27, 2023, Biden called for “assessments” of the nation’s domestic production capacity. 

Sorry, too late for more reports.

Time to act.

Curb dictatorial governors

During COVID-19, state Legislatures like sheep ceded their authority to governors, allowing them to shutter schools, churches, businesses and recreational facilities.

Fortunately, some states eventually came to their senses, including New York, and undid those grants of authority or time-limited them.

Biden and the left-wing media were highly critical of these states — a sure sign more states need to curb emergency health powers before the next health crisis.

Never underestimate government’s stupidity

Not even four months ago, when public-health authorities were already tracking H5N1’s arrival in the United States, the National Institutes of Health awarded funding for a project — Virus Hunters — tasking New York City high schoolers with collecting bird feces from public parks to map the spread of avian influenza.

Students will wear face masks and gloves and collect the bird poop with cotton swabs.

What could go wrong?

Students could contract the virus by touching bird excrement and then their own eyes, nose or mouth, cautions Brown University infectious-disease expert Leonard Mermel.

Trust this government with your life?


To prepare for a pandemic, start by curbing government’s power over your decisions.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.

Twitter: @Betsy_McCaughey