Letters & Opinion

THE OTHER WORLD HEALTH ALERT: Coronavirus breeding hyper hypocrisy of pandemic proportions

Image of NRC Chairman Earl Bousquet
Image of Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

The United States and other Western countries just couldn’t wait to tag the China Corona virus as the worst thing ever to happen on The Planet.

The World Health Organization (WHO) cautiously monitored its development and spread in and out of China after it was officially disclosed on the last day of 2019 and has consistently commended the Chinese government for the billions of dollars poured into fighting it and millions of people mobilized to contain its spread.

Like SARS, MERS, Ebola, Swine Flu and the seasonal influenzas that take thousands of lives in developed countries like USA, UK and Canada every year, the latest strand of the already-known Corona Virus also quickly spread to other countries.

Six weeks later, while the Chinese and WHO authorities are still busy gathering information necessary to develop a cure, China has actually reduced the spread. But the number of deaths is still rising.

The world’s response thus far is greatly influenced by the hyper hypocrisy of some countries and major international media houses in their handling and coverage of this latest global health threat.

Every positive pronouncement by the Director General of the WHO in his daily briefings is matched in coverage with a negative angle in the reporting by Western news agencies: the government ‘took too long’ to admit, was ‘too slow’ to act, presented ‘bogus figures’, engaged in ‘cover-ups’, etc.

It’s been made to look like China concocted this deadly infectious cocktail to deliberately harm the rest of the world, with Doomsday predictions by conspiracy theorists known and unknown.

The consequences of such hyper hysteria are quite evident everywhere, with people genuinely scared to death of even going to Chinese restaurants and business places.

But while the WHO and China continue to work to develop a cure, there’s already talk in the USA and Europe about the ‘beneficial aspects’ of the new virus, with the big pharmaceutical companies (Big Pharma) already racing to try to develop an antidote — before the Chinese.

However, the efforts to accuse China of plotting to depopulate the world mask the reality that the world has seen much worse epidemics of infectious diseases in the last 100 years, that have taken more than 100 million lives.

During the 20th Century: The Cholera Plague (1896 to 1923) took up to 1.5 million lives worldwide, Spanish Flu (1918-20) took up to 100 million, Asian Flu (1957-68) took two million and the Hong Kong Flu (1968-69) also consumed two million.

Thus far in the 21st Century: SARS (2002-04) took 349 lives in China and 299 in Hong Kong, the 2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) took over 500,000, Ebola (2013-16) took 11,300 in West Africa, Chikungunya (2013-14) took 183 lives in The Americas, Zika (2015-2016) affected 5,000 persons and the Wuhan Coronavirus has taken 1,000 lives – and counting. And from 1960 to present, over 30 million people have died from AIDS.

It’s much too early to make the usual deadly comparative analyses of deaths per country per day, week, month in this new Corona Virus case, but no other country from which any similar virus has emerged in the past century has been treated like China is today.

The 2009 H1N1 virus emerged in The Americas and infected over 60 million people worldwide; and according to a July 2012 re-evaluation of earlier estimates, between 151,700 and 575,400 people perished worldwide during its first year.

Yet, while America was as caught-up with the 2009 H1N1 as everywhere else, there were no travel bans imposed on the USA or any other major Western country.

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) always goes all out, with the support of the US media, to give the rest of the world the impression that when it comes to health, all is always well on the Western front.

But whenever it’s somewhere else – Africa with AIDS and Ebola or China and the Corona Virus today – everything is done to portray an assumed automatic inability of the governments and health authorities in poor countries of origin to handle such outbreaks.

Not all Caribbean governments have invested in detention facilities and while a handful of suspect cases may have been identified and reported, there have been no confirmed reports of contamination or death in the region.

Caribbean media houses have also patently ignored any positive Corona Virus news out of China, like the safety of Caribbean students in Wuhan and other Chinese cities, and the creation by Cubans in China of a music video dedicated to the fight and/or the role of Cuban doctors in China.

A plant-based Cuban anti-viral drug called Interferon Alfa 2B (IFNrec) that was successfully used in the island’s fight against AIDS has also been cross-bred in China and since January 25 (first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year) has been one of 30 selected to treat affected Coronavirus patients.

Indeed, China has been using a virtual cocktail of tried-and-tested antiviral drugs to treat affected persons, applying a combination of antivirals with combinations of products of traditional Chinese medicine, Western drugs – and the Cuban biomedical product.

But media houses seem more interested in lobbing propaganda missiles at those in the frontline of the global battle against this latest world health hazard.

Unfortunately, the anti-China propaganda will continue to cause anxiety and over-reaction where level-headed caution and trust in national medical services is absolutely essential.

None of the major 20th Century pandemics (except AIDS) are known to have taken lives in the Caribbean; and there’s yet no sign of Coronavirus penetration at such acute levels as to cause panic or fear.

Caribbean governments must care enough to continue to err on the side of caution.

But it’s also the duty of the media – and all else who care — to fish for, find and share, even those smallest bits of good news from all the bad, which, in the case of the Caribbean, is never too hard to find.

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