Biden raised the pandemic alarm in October as Trump complained about iPhone buttons

Oliver O'Connell

Joe Biden tweeted about the US’s lack of preparedness for a pandemic in October, according to a tweet the former vice president reposted on Thursday.

The former vice president paired his 25 October tweet with one from the same day last year by Donald Trump, in which the president complained to Apple’s Tim Cook about the functionality of his iPhone.

Mr Biden’s tweet read: “We are not prepared for a pandemic. Trump has rolled back progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security.”

He continued: “We need leadership that builds public trust, focuses on real threats, and mobilises the world to stop outbreaks before they reach our shores.”

The tweet included a link to a Washington Post story from the previous day that said that 195 countries, including the US, are not fully prepared for a pandemic.

Mr Trump’s tweet on the other hand, reads: “To Tim: The Button on the IPhone was FAR better than the Swipe!”

The Washington Post article relays the findings of the 2019 Global Health Security Index, the first comprehensive assessment of global health capabilities, giving countries an overall score.

The US does well in five of six preparedness categories but ranks 19th — after Australia, Canada, Singapore and more than a half-dozen European countries — in an assessment of overall risk and vulnerability to biological threats.

The factors driving down the US score include the risks of social unrest and terrorism, and low public confidence in government.

Beth Cameron, vice president for global biological policy and programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and one of the index’s leaders, said at the time that health security is a collective responsibility for all countries and preparedness is key.

Sporadic responses to the 2001 anthrax attacks, SARS, MERS and Ebola triggered the call for a more coordinated approach to biological threats. Prophetically, the report warned of the looming threat of a pandemic caused by a novel strain of influenza, jut over two months before the initial outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan, China.

In 2014 the Obama administration established a unit on global health security and biodefence at the National Security Council, headed at the senior director level by Ms Cameron.

That unit was abolished by the Trump administration in 2018, under a reorganisation by then-national security adviser John Bolton.

Apple retired the physical button under the screen of its phones with the launch of the iPhone X in 2017.

Its functions included waking the phone, navigating to the home screen, activating Siri and ApplePay, taking screenshots, and resetting the device. These functions were replaced either by gestures or moved to side buttons.

Despite the Twitter complaint, the president may have actually been in a good mood as 25 October was the day that reports emerged that the Justice Department was conducting a criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.

A further highlight of political Twitter on that day was Bernie Sanders using an Ariana Grande tweet to ensure everyone knew about his central campaign promise.

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