If a killer asteroid was headed toward earth, this NASA astronaut says our "fragmented, staggered" response to COVID would doom us.

Teachable Moments

If the world were to respond to an impending asteroid impact the way it did the coronavirus pandemic, then we would all be utterly hosed.

That's according to scientist and retired NASA astronaut Thomas Jones, who told Space.com that the uncoordinated and delayed attempts to contain COVID-19 ought to serve as teachable moments — lessons in failure — that should help world leaders to better prepare for future crises.

"Speaking for myself, the novel coronavirus is a good case study of mistakes to avoid when planning to prevent an asteroid impact," Jones told Space.com.

Team-Building Exercises

In order to do better, Jones says that governments and intergovernmental agencies would need to act with much greater transparency and cooperation. It goes without saying that the opposite happened during the pandemic, with the World Health Organization making sense of faulty data and political leaders acting in their own selfish interests.

"This is understandable, but it's not a good model for dealing with an asteroid impact threat," Jones told Space.com. "A fragmented, staggered and uneven response to an impact threat is a recipe for delay and inaction, foreclosing options to deflect the asteroid."

Planning Ahead

Whether it's an asteroid impact or a viral pandemic, Lindley Johnson, Program Executive of NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, argues that being ready in advance — instead of scrambling when a disaster presents itself — is crucial.

"The question is just when," Johnson told Space.com.

READ MORE: How the coronavirus pandemic can help us prepare for an asteroid impact [Space.com]

More on emergency preparedness: Fauci: Acting Sooner Would "Obviously" Have Meant Fewer Deaths

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