I read this long piece about how western countries have struggled to respond to COVID, which resulted in a tremendous loss of life. To me, it boils down to one issue, politics. It seems that in western countries led by elected leaders, decisions and lack of decisions were due to the calculus of political consequences. For example, the Trump administration’s slow response was due to all decisions made in terms of whether they help or hinder their ability to be re-elected. In the east there were no worries about election consequences, so there was probably little debate over whether to move fast or be alarmist.
In the United States we seemed to have lost the idea that there should be non-partisans in government positions so they focus entirely on the public interest and not on their political ambitions. The transition is most obvious in what has happened to the Supreme Court, which unlike the intent of the Founders, has in practice become partisan.