If a SARS pandemic had occurred in 2002-2007 that was much worse than COVID-19, it would have had a severe significant impact on global health, economies, and international relations. Here are some possible scenarios:
Health impact: SARS-CoV-1, the virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003, had a higher case fatality rate (CFR) than COVID-19, which means that a higher percentage of people who got infected died from the disease. The CFR of SARS was estimated to be around 9-10%, compared to around 1-2% for COVID-19. If a SARS pandemic had occurred in 2002-2003 that was as infectious as COVID-19 but remained more lethal than COVID-19, it would have caused a much higher number of deaths worldwide. The WHO estimated that the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003 caused around 8,000 cases and 774 deaths in 29 countries. If the SARS pandemic had spread as widely as COVID-19, it could have caused 380-500 millions deaths worldwide.
Economic impact: A SARS pandemic in 2002-2007 that was more lethal than COVID-19 would have had a severe impact on the global economy. During the SARS outbreak, many countries implemented travel restrictions, quarantine measures, and lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus. These measures had a significant impact on international trade, tourism, and other industries. If the SARS pandemic had been more widespread and lethal, these measures could have been more stringent and longer-lasting, causing a more severe economic downturn.
International relations: The SARS outbreak in 2002-2003 strained international relations, especially between China and other countries. China was criticized for initially covering up the outbreak and not sharing information with the international community. If the SARS pandemic had been more widespread as COVID-19, China and the CCP would face public and international scrutiny just like it did in OTL with COVID for covering up the outbreak and not sharing information with the international community . The response of other countries to the outbreak could also have caused diplomatic and political friction.
Public health preparedness: If a SARS pandemic had occurred in 2002-2007 that was more lethal than COVID-19, it could have led to a significant increase in public health preparedness and research funding for infectious diseases. The SARS outbreak in 2002-2003 highlighted the need for better surveillance systems, rapid diagnostics, and effective treatments and vaccines for emerging infectious diseases. If a more severe SARS pandemic had occurred, it could have accelerated progress in these areas and led to better preparedness for future pandemics.
The impact of the SARS pandemic in 2002-2007 on the 2004 US presidential election and the response of the Bush administration would depend on several factors, including the severity of the pandemic, the effectiveness of the response, and the perception of the public. The response of the Bush administration to the SARS pandemic would likely have been similar to its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration would have relied on public health agencies such as the CDC and NIH to coordinate the response and develop strategies to contain the spread of the virus. The administration would also have worked with international organizations such as the WHO and other countries to coordinate a global response. SARS could have become a major issue in the 2004 US presidential election and the response of the Bush administration would have been scrutinized by the public and Bush might lose re-election to John Kerry or any Democrat nominee. The administration's response would likely have been similar to its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, relying on public health agencies and international partners to coordinate a global response.
Firstly, the severity and impact of the SARS pandemic on the United States would have played a significant role. If the pandemic had been more widespread and deadly than OTL COVID-19, it could have led to a significant loss of life and economic disruption with up to 23.2 million Americans dead from SARS. The public's perception of how the Bush administration handled the pandemic response would have been a critical factor in the election outcome.
Secondly, John Kerry's response to the pandemic and his proposed policies to address the crisis would have also played a role. Kerry was a vocal critic of the Bush administration's handling of the SARS outbreak in 2002-2007 and called for increased funding for public health agencies and better preparedness for future outbreaks. If Kerry had presented a clear and effective plan to address the SARS pandemic, it could have boosted his chances of winning the election.
Thirdly, other issues and factors such as the war in Iraq, the state of the economy, and the public's perception of the candidates' leadership and character would have also influenced the election outcome.
Overall, a SARS pandemic in 2003-2007 that is much worse than COVID-19 would have had a significant and severe impact on global health, economies, and international relations. The response to such a pandemic could have led to major changes in public health preparedness and research funding for infectious diseases.