WHO let the virus out!
Chinmay Kabi | Mar 30, 2020
Chinmay Kabi writes,
Keeping the tradition of the '20s pandemics alive and giving every other virus a run for its money, the ‘Corona/COVID-19/Chinese/Karuna’ virus has smitten over 600,000 unfortunate people across the globe, with the majority belonging to China, Italy, USA and several European nations. Viruses may seem akin to a final year student who's already placed, partying hard, thumb one's nose onto the authorities and travelling far and wide, but they eventually graduate and make a name for themselves, thanks to our institute. But if something goes haywire, we blame the institution in a heartbeat, so shouldn't it be the same with Coronavirus, if not blame directly, scrutinise them at least?
Some say it all started because someone (identified as patient zero) devoured bat soup, others link it to lack of hygiene at the wet markets in Wuhan, but the bottom line is that it was the responsibility of the Chinese Government and World Health Organisation to contain it, if not on a political basis but humanitarian grounds. The reason for WHO's failure to contain the outbreak may not be a result of issuing awfully bad advice or issuing inaccurate information, it may be a sign of the influence Chinese government has over WHO itself.
Studies are suggesting that the virus was unleashed as early as October, months before the Chinese Government alerted the world about it. The ironclad censorship on media and internet in China is a testimony of how powerful China is concerning controlling its perception in the International Media. The “people's Republic of China", ‘blocked information on social outlets’ and ‘removed news stories’ that attempted to report on the outbreak. Rather than addressing the issue, China arrested journalists and doctors who tried to sound the alarm early on. The result, if not wholly preventable, would have been less devastating had the information been relayed to other countries properly.
Source- buisnessinsider.com, latimes.com
On 11th March, 48 days after Wuhan was locked down, WHO declared Coronavirus as a pandemic. It was only then when the countries started imposing emergency measures to curb the spread, but in hindsight, we know that it was too late. However, there are now reports coming out, which shows the lacklustre attitude of WHO in dealing with this outbreak. According to reports (www.ft.com), WHO was made aware of human to human transmission at the end of December itself but they decided to sit on that information, which caused them to tweet this
Aptly on 14th February, WHO continued to romance with the Chinese Government by publicly defending the Chinese Government over the outbreak, stating that the nation had worked with WHO on various fronts to curb the pandemic.
We're a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese
-Larry Kudlow, US National Economic Council Head
For the moment, we're not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus, and we're not witnessing large-scale severe disease or deaths
- Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on 25th Feb in a briefing.
On 29th February, WHO made some startling remarks regarding the restriction of movement of people and goods.
Travel bans to affected areas or denial of entry to passengers coming from affected areas are usually not effective in preventing the importation of cases but may have a significant economic and social impact. Since WHO declaration of a public health emergency of international concern in relation to COVID-19, and as of 27 February, 38 countries have reported to WHO additional health measures that significantly interfere with international traffic in relation to travel to and from China or other countries, ranging from denial of entry of passengers, visa restrictions or quarantine for returning travellers. Several countries that denied entry of travellers or who have suspended flights to and from China or other affected countries are now reporting cases of COVID-19.
While the statement urged countries to be prepared for an outbreak, it, ironically, advised against the application of air restrictions, one of the primary reasons for the global outbreak of the pandemic, especially in Italy.
In retrospect, if a clear indication had come from the WHO by the end of February, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Spain may have been in a better position to curb the outbreak as all these nations witnessed an exponential increase in the number of cases in the initial days of March.
Case in point- Nipah outbreak in India
Nineteen patients were infected with what was called the “mystery disease” in May of 2018, of which 17 died. Soon after the outbreak was reported to the National Center for Diseases Control, the government launched a coordinated response to contain the spread that included local, state and national health agencies.
It could have been much worse. The medical and public health response in Kerala prevented it from becoming much worse
Daniel R. Lucey, MD, MPH, adjunct professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center and research associate in anthropology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural history, told Infectious Disease News.
Nipah is considered as one of the world’s deadliest pathogens. What is even more commendable about the way India tackled this outbreak was the fact that we were able to contain it before knowing much about the virus itself, hence the naming mystery disease. In today’s day and age, all we need to contain an epidemic is a clear conscience, non-subversive Government and an independent media.
A word about Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General WHO
China worked tirelessly in lobbying to ensure the election of Tedros, who had previously served in the Government of the Marxist and violently repressive Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front. During his tenure as health minister, Tedros was most known to have covered up to three cholera outbreaks.
So why did China push so hard for Tedros? According to Assistant to US President Peter Navarro, the Chinese Government has a broad strategy to gain control over 15 specialised agencies of UN, of which it already leads 4 of the UN specialised agencies. In contrast, no other country leads to more than one.
China has even boasted about its almost-takeover of the WHO. In 2017 alone it signed an agreement with the WHO for its "One Belt One Road" initiative, co-chaired the China-Africa Health Ministers Conference, and hosted the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation during which the CCP pledged $8.8 billion to developing countries "to improve people's well-being worldwide."
The Chinese governments' near-total takeover of the WHO comes at a steep human cost, as the world surely will realise sooner or later. People have already started pinning the blame on the Chinese and the WHO. Hopefully, countries work together ensuring the Chinese Government and WHO are brought to the books.