"A major difference in response is that we were better prepared for a pandemic (at least in the U.S.) years ago," Strathdee said.

At the beginning of both pandemics, the genetic sequences of the virus were released to the public with remarkable speed, so that countries could create diagnostic tests as soon as possible. On April 24, 2009, just nine days after initial detection of H1N1, the CDC uploaded genetic sequences of the virus to a public database and had already begun development of a vaccine. Similarly, on Jan. 12, 2020, five days after the novel coronavirus was isolated, Chinese scientists published the virus' genetic sequence.

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S was identified on Jan. 20, and the country's Department of Health and Human Services declared COVID-19 a public health emergency 11 days later, on Jan. 31. Similarly, the U.S. declared the swine flu a public health emergency 11 days after the first confirmed U.S. case in 2009.

But that's about where the similarities stop. Things haven't happened quite as fast or as smoothly with COVID-19 as they did with H1N1. Within four weeks of detecting H1N1 in 2009, the CDC had begun releasing health supplies from their stockpile that could prevent and treat influenza, and most states in the U.S. had labs capable of diagnosing H1N1 without verification by a CDC test.

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