By the time this article was published, it was already too late.
In fact, by now, the planet had been hit by a new, more powerful form of pandemic that, among other things, has left millions of people dead, devastated countries, and left millions more without food or water.
As the world begins to grapple with what it could have done differently to stem the worst pandemic since the 1918 flu pandemic, the world has a new question to answer: What did we know and when did we do it?
This is part of a series that explores the global economy and what it means for people around the world.
For more stories like this one, subscribe to The New Scientist magazine.
More stories about the US: