A pandemic is war by different means. Death counts are far greater. The enemy is invisible. But, paradoxically, rallying publics against a pandemic is much more difficult than in wartime. This paradox between the disparity of magnitude of loss and public support is partly what makes a pandemic potentially dangerous to the political and not just the physical health of a nation. Covid-19 is especially dangerous because America has achieved the near impossible. It has politicized a pandemic. Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on how to contain Covid-19. The test: can any leader defeat both a pandemic and politicization simultaneously? Joseph Stalin partially explained this phenomenon: “one death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.” After the murder of George Floyd at the knee of a policeman in Minneapolis, Minnesota earlier this year, hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans marched in spontaneous protest. No Americans have marched to protest the deaths of hundreds of thousands to Covid. The greater extent of loss in a pandemic should make a difference. Three times as many Americans died from the Spanish Flu in 1918-1920 than on French Battlefields. In the forty-five months of World War II, some 300,000 Americans were killed, on average 1750 a week. In the ten years of the Vietnam War (1964-1974), 58,000 American died in action or about 125 a week. Thus far, over a quarter of a million Americans have died from Covid, currently headed to 10,000 a week, more than five times the death rate in World War II and eighty times Vietnam’s. Yet, loss makes no difference. Public outrage and outcry over the handling of the pandemic is non-existent compared with the Vietnam and George Floyd protests. Is that because Americans have become cynical, complacent or resigned to a covid-induced malaise over which there is no control? Or is the cause politicization that impedes obtaining a sensible response? After Pearl Harbor, had this same apathy prevailed, Americans might not be speaking Japanese. But be certain that the lingua franca of Europe and Britain today would be German. Assigning accountability for failing to contain the virus on a single individual or political party is tempting. Culpability is ubiquitous across politics and society alike. Many Americans simply disregard or ignore basic preventions such as wearing masks and social distancing when, in war, many would volunteer for duty. However, for the past ten months and next nine weeks, Republicans have been in charge in the White House and Senate and bear a certain responsibility. Vaccines will not resolve this paradox. The nation must not be misled. Production, distribution and inoculation will present far greater challenges than the record breaking creation of vaccines. It may take well into 2022 for vaccines to contain the pandemic. That reality will create massive problems and likely crises as public optimism turns bitter. Here leadership is critical. When a leader fails to tell the truth in wars such as Vietnam, public trust and confidence evaporate. When a leader purposely downplays a pandemic and deceives the public so as not to cause panic, citizens dismiss the danger. When a leader eschews basic precautions to contain the virus; advises taking dangerous drugs and chemicals as therapeutics; holds “super-spreader” events at rallies and in the White House; and receives 72 million votes in the last election, it is clear that many Americans will not regard the pandemic with sufficient seriousness. Before and certainly since the election, Republicans in general and Republican senators in particular have been derelict by not demanding that the president act responsibly in fighting this pandemic. Because the president refuses to accept the election results, he has not allowed the transition process to start. His allies re-assert the president’s right to have all votes counted. Why does that preclude beginning the transition between the president-elect’s Corona Virus panel and the president’s task force to save lives? Leadership counts as much as in pandemics as in war. On January 20th, President Joe Biden will be dealt the worst hand of any president since Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression. Without strong, positive leadership in times of crisis, failure is inevitable. But can Biden defuse this crippling politicization in which so many citizens are intractably divided and as hundreds of thousands more Americans are dying in the pandemic? In 1776, if strong leadership had not overcome similar attitudes towards George III as are being displayed over Covid-19, America would be speaking the Queen’s English today. After Pearl Harbor, had this same apathy prevailed, Americans might not be speaking Japanese. But be certain that the lingua franca of Europe and Britain today would be German. Covid is a threat to America’s political as well as to its physical health. But who will take notice? And who will lead? Dr Harlan Ullman is Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council. His next book is The Fifth Horseman and MAD: How Massive Attacks of Disruption Endanger, Infect and Engulf Us and the World.