Coronavirus tragedy a central theme in Biden’s election bid

Apart from painting the 2020 presidential election as a battle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light, Joe Biden’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee this week was largely about America’s battle with Covid-19.

It was a virtual convention, with all of its speakers online, and Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris had to wave at small groups projected onto a giant screen instead of at a chanting crowd. Unsurprisingly, he laid the blame for death and disruption of the pandemic squarely at the feet of President Trump.

“Just judge this president on the facts. 5 million Americans infected with COVID-19. More than 170,000 Americans have died. By far the worst performance of any nation on Earth,” he declared.

“The tragedy of where we are today is it didn't have to be this bad. Just look around. It's not this bad in Canada. Or Europe. Or Japan. Or almost anywhere else in the world. The President keeps telling us the virus is going to disappear. He keeps waiting for a miracle. Well, I have news for him, no miracle is coming. We lead the world in confirmed cases. We lead the world in deaths. Our economy is in tatters, with Black, Latino, Asian American, and Native American communities bearing the brunt of it. And after all this time, the president still does not have a plan.”

Mr Biden said that he has a plan to bring the pandemic to an end: rapid testing, abundant made-in-USA medical supplies, and mandatory masking.

The President’s failure to protect Americans from Covid-19 is “unforgivable”, he declared. “As president, I will make you this promise: I will protect America. I will defend us from every attack. Seen. And unseen. Always. Without exception. Every time.”

Bioethical issues have often featured in US presidential campaigns, notably abortion and public healthcare. But this may be the first in which they are nearly the only ones. Mr Biden alluded to racial justice, Russian meddling, climate change, taxing the rich and economic devastation, but he returned to two themes over and over – Covid-19 and the President’s character.

There are only 10 weeks to go before the November 3 election. The statistical website FiveThirtyEight gave Biden a 73% chance of winning as of yesterday.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge


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