It Pays to Prepare

By Scott LaFee

October 28, 2020 5 min read

The world wasn't ready for the COVID-19 pandemic. A study by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board asked what it would take to be ready for the next global health threat. The answer: a lot of money, effort and time.

The worldwide response cost to the current pandemic has already exceeded $11 trillion, with another $10 trillion in projected losses. Countries don't spend nearly that much in prevention and preparedness programs and efforts. At current levels, said the GPMB, it would take 500 years for them to invest the same amount for prevention that they've already lost in this pandemic.

A Cleaner Car and Bill of Health

Moving to mostly zero-emission vehicles by 2050 would not only cut air pollution dramatically; it would prevent 6,300 premature deaths and 93,000 asthma attacks in the United States, estimates the American Lung Association.

It would also save $72 billion in health costs (more than $22 billion in California alone).

The ALA is calling for all levels of government to invest further in zero-emissions technologies and infrastructure, emphasizing a quicker shift to emission-free fleets of garbage trucks, public transit and other vehicles.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles in the state be zero-emission by 2035.

Body of Knowledge

Consuming between 10 and 20 grams of caffeine can kill a person, but you'd have to drink roughly 4.69 gallons of coffee to get there.

Get Me That, Stat!

Only 1 in 6 adolescents who receive mental health care also receive professional guidance about how to continue once they become adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


1 in 133: ratio of Americans who have celiac disease

Source: "Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic" by Peter Green and Rory Jones (2010)

Doc Talk

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis: a synonym for silicosis, a lung disease contracted from inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano. The word was invented by the president of the National Puzzlers' League to be the longest word in the English language.

Mania of the Week

Morsusmania: excessive desire for biting

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for cabbage is six pounds and nine ounces in 9 minutes, held by Charles Hardy. Lettuce rejoice!

Best Medicine

Husband: "I need a new doc. He told me I had Type A blood."

Wife: "So? Why change doctors?"

Husband: "He made a mistake. It was Type O."


"Insomnia sharpens math skills because you spend all night calculating how much sleep you'll get if you're able to 'fall asleep right now.'" — Anonymous

Medical History

This week in 1948, a killing smog blanketed the small town of Donora, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Residents of the working-class community went to bed that night not knowing a suffocating cloud of industrial gases from a local zinc smelter, Donora's primary employer, would descend upon them during the night. Over the next five days, 20 residents would die, and half the town's population of 14,000 would be hospitalized with breathing difficulties. The event marked a turning point in public perceptions about industrial pollution and its effect on health.

Sum Body

Five reasons you should get your flu shot (if you haven't already).

1. It will help your immune system manage better, as it copes with both flu and COVID-19 exposures.

2. It will cut down on symptom confusion. Influenza and COVID-19 have similar symptoms. If a doctor knows a patient has been vaccinated for the flu, they can focus more on the likelihood of COVD-19.

3. A flu shot may provide some protection from COVID-19.

4. A bad case of the flu can be life-threatening. Last year, more than 34,000 Americans died from the flu.

5. The flu vaccine helps, even if it's not 100% effective.

Last Words

"If you will send for a doctor, I will see him now." — English novelist Emily Bronte (1818-1848), who had resisted doctors or any form of medical treatment during her last illness, believed to be tuberculosis

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: Engin_Akyurt at Pixabay

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