In his 2018 book, “The Fifth Risk,” Michael Lewis posed an unsettling question: What if the government agencies tasked with managing catastrophes — natural disasters, climate change-induced food shortages, epidemics — failed to prepare for some unanticipated, looming crisis?
“Many of the risks that fell into the government’s lap felt so remote as to be unreal: that a cyberattack left half the country without electricity, or that some airborne virus wiped out millions,” he wrote.
Last year, when the coronavirus began spreading throughout the United States, Lewis called some of his government sources for “The Fifth Risk.” What he learned was even more disconcerting than the frightening scenario he was reading about in the news. The experts he spoke to were alarmed not just by the government’s failure to contain the virus, but by the possibility that an even more deadly pathogen was on the horizon.
“All of them saw this event as a dry run for something much worse that is inevitable, and how do we prepare for it?” Lewis said in an interview last week. “They view the pandemic in the way a body views a vaccine. It’s like practice for when the real thing hits.” [Continue reading…]