Diseases shoot up as national security concern to Americans

Washington (AFP) –


Americans are more likely to consider infectious diseases a top national threat than any other issue, a sharp upturn as the coronavirus pandemic rattles the world, a survey said Monday.

The Pew Research Center found that 79 percent described the spread of infectious diseases as a major threat to the United States, edging out the 73 percent who said the same about terrorism or the spread of nuclear weapons.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed perceptions dramatically. Only 52 percent ranked infectious disease as a major threat in 2014 when Pew asked the question amid the Ebola outbreak in Africa, which was quickly contained in the United States.

A number of experts have already predicted that the new coronavirus will alter priorities for US national security and academia, much like the September 11, 2001 attacks brought an overwhelming focus on terrorism and the Islamic world.

Pew, which surveyed 1,000 Americans, found that concerns about infectious disease crossed partisan and generational lines.

Seventy-seven percent of Americans who support or lean toward President Donald Trump's Republican Party viewed infectious diseases as a serious concern, only slightly below the 82 percent of Democrats who said likewise.

The gap was massive when asked about climate change, which 88 percent of Democrats saw as a major threat as opposed to only 31 percent of Republicans.

The survey was based on telephone interviews conducted from March 3-27 and had a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.