A pandemic is a situation where a disease spreads to various countries and continents globally in a short time. Even before one understands the nature and progression of the disease, it kills a number of people. The present Covid-19 virus was declared as a pandemic by the World health organisation (WHO) on 11thMarch 2020. To understand what a pandemic means, let us go to some historical experiences from past. Small pox and Plague of bygone centuries which killed crores of people repeatedly are still remembered as worst pandemics. From the recent past, The Spanish Flu (1918 -20) with a death toll of 2 to 5 crores, Asian Flu (1957-58) killing more than 11 lakhs, Hongkong Flu (1968) with deaths of more than 10 lakhs, Swine Flu (2009-10) killing 2 lakh people are well noted. The cholera, yellow fever, leprosy, HIV (1981), SARS (2002-3), EBOLA (2014), MERS (2015) are also considered pandemics. HIV is considered to have taken away 3.5 crores of lives so far but spreading in a very slow pace; the Ebola killed more than1.3 lakhs people by 2016. Thus, pandemics may be slow or fast in spread and vary in mortality.
The present COVID-19 disease caused by a novel CORONA virus (nCoV-2019) strain is spreading very fast and as on 18th April 2020 more than 22.97lakhs are affected in about 200 countries and more than 1.57 lakhs people have perished. It is to be noted that the advanced medical knowhow, treatment modalities, the advancement in scientific knowledge, information technology, progress in identifying the disease early and combating it with all capabilities are all helpful in containing the infections. The past knowledge alone will not be sufficient as the virus presents in a different mode and new defences developed by it through gene mutations. The present novel virus is also a mutated form from the family of influenza viruses. We require a new game plan to treat and eradicate it. The virus is constantly changing its form even after the first outbreak in Wuhan of China in the last week of December 2019.
As on today the virus is found in three strains (varieties). A-variety spreading in America and Australia, B-variety seen in China, Korea, Japan, Hongkong and some other East Asian countries, and C-variety is violent in France, Italy, Sweden, England etc., meaning that the virus is still evolving. It is interesting to note that A-variety virus was seen in Americans who lived in Wuhan but most Chinese patients in Wuhan harboured B-variety virus. This observation brings out the need for more scientific study to conquer the virus.
Though the first cases were seen and reported in Wuhan, there is no substantial proof to say that the virus originated there. The first studies identified the source of Covid 19 from bats and pangolins and highlighted Wuhan as the initial epicentre. Multiple arguments were put forward mostly by politicians and media of the west, accusing of vicious motives to China.
The politicized attacks over the initial outbreak were aimed at maligning China and none had the patience to hear what the scientists of the world would say. The epidemiologists world over are still wondering and conducting studies on the origin and spread of virus which has not been straight, and shows complex pattern of mutations. They are trying to make sense of the new disease. Meanwhile the epidemic became pandemic. A section of the world is blaming China as culprit without a tangible proof. Politics took precedence over Science. This pronounces that the need of the hour is to share knowledge and cooperate with each other and fight the virus globally as a united task force. The Chinese authorities are repeatedly pleading the world to act in this direction. But some of the countries and USA are acting differently.
Some of the US politicians, intelligence agencies and media of the west are engaged in promoting false propaganda (rumours), misinformation and misinterpretations regarding China’s role in the fight against Covid19. Throwing mud at China and blindfolding their citizens and other people world over, creating misguided ill feelings against China, is an old trick played by US authorities. Rightist sections in some of the countries joined hands with USA in this game. US authorities are politicising the pandemic, manipulating the public opinion and stigmatising China. This attitude of USA broadly serves three purposes like firstly diverting public attention from the havoc in their country, secondly worsening China’s investment environment, and thirdly to win support of voters in the forthcoming presidential elections.
As on 18th April there are more than 7,19,000 Covid positive tested cases in USA, about 38,000 patients died and the figures are increasing every hour. It is very evident that the most advanced and most prosperous country in the world is unable to contain the viral menace. The health services and medical institutes in USA are not geared up and not able to cope up with the fast expanding corona in their country even though the first corona case was reported on 21stJanuary2020 in Washington.
On the other hand, the Chinese took all possible precautions to contain the epidemic and took care of people, ever since the first case was identified in the last week of December, and they precisely informed WHO on 31st December 2019. They rose to the challenge with war footing efforts of government and people combined together to win over the dreaded virus. They could contain the disease to the place where the first outbreak occurred, limiting the total number of cases to over 82,000 and deaths to 3300 during the 3 months period from the first death due to this virus on 11th January. In this scenario the leaders of USA, to hide their failure, are trying to show China as the source of the virus and root cause of the ongoing misery. They are not accepting their inactivity, irresponsible attitude and lack of preparedness to combat the pandemic, in spite of having time of two months from the time of their first case to the rapid spread of the disease in the United States.
China and World Health Organisation [WHO] have alerted the world. The virus crossed the borders of China by 20th January. A few cases were reported in other countries. Global Health Emergency was declared on 31st January 2020, i.e. just one month from the date of China’s first communique on 31st Dec2019. Starting from 3rd January China gave regular and periodic information about the Covid virus to WHO and USA. Russia, South Korea, Hongkong, Vietnam and Singapore took action including closure of borders with China and domestic institutions like schools, malls etc.; they were closed from February in some of the countries. This prompt reaction was due to their past experience of H1N1 epidemic and today they are in safe limits.
But the USA took no lesson from their past and acted with recklessness and carelessness about people’s life. On March 11th WHO declared Covid 19 as pandemic when the illness was seen in almost 110 countries and territories and over 1,18,000 cases were reported. WHO has many times pointed out the pandemic potential of the covid epidemic. “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a crisis that will touch every sector, so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight against this crisis”, as per the Director general of WHO. The technological, scientific, economic and intelligence parameters of USA are considered so high that it cannot remain silent. It should have taken steps to prevent the pandemic as its global duty, even if WHO did not react swiftly. Instead USA took to a blame game against China and WHO, that both of them colluded and did not alert the world.
In reality China has promptly informed WHO local office in late December, and formally on January 3rd about the unknown type of pneumonia caused by a new virus spreading in one of their provinces. China informed the same to USA also on 3rd January and had several telephonic conversations later on with US authorities. Before the official communication, Chinese authorities conducted a number of press conferences including international press briefing about the new disease. It may be true that in the first phase, China too might not have understood the intensity or potential magnitude of this new disease. In fact, it was only on Jan 5th, a Lab test ruled out other pathogens of Flu. It is not unusual or a crime to take some time to understand and estimate the severity of the new disease. It needed to be evaluated on basis of scientific data.
As observed above, even today the scientific community could not deliver a confirmed opinion. But China, as soon as it could find out and pin down the nature and character of the virus and disease, got down to arrest it and shared the information. It reacted so well and controlled the “Unprecedented Epidemic situation with an Unprecedented swiftness and vigour” that the world acclaimed their efforts. China could identify the virus, its mode of spread, its genome structure, developed quick diagnostic kits within a short period and developed possible medical treatment methodology and very transparently transferred this knowledge to the international scientific community.
The way China locked down 6-7 crores of people for prolonged period, the first time in mankind’s history, attended not only the medical needs but also the daily requirements of people, supplied necessities to the doorsteps of people, are now taken as bench marks of dealing an epidemic. They developed fever clinics, makeshift hospitals and designated hospitals for this purpose, adopted a “three zones -two passages strategy” at their hospitals. Monitored every person by mobile apps and other technics, temperature squads were employed. Huge infrastructure was created within days, mobilising more than 20000 medical and paramedical trained staff from other provinces, including 4000 from the military, the brotherhood and social responsibility nurtured between the citizens, the sacrificing and duty-bound attitude of employees are of high human values. The dedication and planning of the political leadership is outstanding and speaks of the magnificent rich values of socialist society. Never were such steps taken by the so-called developed countries in the history of combating epidemics. They never shared the scientific data nor developed such procedures in the service of humanity.
But still the American and western press blames china of adopting “draconian, authoritarian methods, violating human rights and denigrating citizens freedom” etc. It is true that Chinese adopted very stringent measures which required high degree of efficiency, discipline and massive infrastructural facilities. They stood as a model to follow. Now when globally the infection is seamlessly raising, they are back to almost normalcy. Now they are engaged in screening, tracing and treating the imported and sporadic cases with a strong vigilant eye and prepared to extinguish the second tide of the virus in their country.
While China was fighting the Covid virus tooth and nail, the US and its allies are engaged in spreading another anti-china political virus. They accused that the novel virus was creation of China in the Wuhan laboratory and was intended to rage bio-war against USA and it accidentally got released. This idea was mooted as early as January by the New York times and other popular media. Senators and strategists in US repeated it tirelessly. But later news agencies like USA Today conducted fact check and found it as baseless and deliberate false propaganda. Medical journals like Lancet, Scrips research institute, US national academy of sciences and many more scientific bodies unequivocally declared the novel virus as a natural mutation in nature and rejected the plea that it was created in a laboratory. Next, the perpetrators attributed the rapid spread of disease to the unscrupulous carnivorous eating habits of Chinese and spread a tide of racial discrimination depicting all Chinese as a reservoir of virus. Today we see the spread of virus irrespective of eating habits, across all races and regions. Scientific studies are going on to determine whether the Wuhan wet market was the real source (as was thought initially) or not. American administration accuses China and WHO that they withheld information on the severity of the disease and misinformed the world on the mode of spread. USA and others are attacking the World Health Organisation because WHO appreciated the efforts of China in controlling the epidemic, contrary to the opinion of USA. Mr. Trump openly complained WHO is taking major funds from USA but appreciating China.
Of late on 6th April 20th, China published the timeline of events regarding Covid 19, which brings out the transparent role played by the Chinese government and how it expressed its concern over the spread of the epidemic from the beginning. It is true that first the epidemic was thought to be originating from animals or birds and their contacts only. But soon it was recognised that it spreads by human to human contamination also. As soon as this was identified the information was passed on and propagated widely. Is it justifiable to blame a country that it did not disclose the facts prior to obtaining scientific evidence?
Today we have sufficient knowledge regarding identification, isolation and treatment of patients, sanitization of houses, hospitals, buildings and roads. We know better how to destroy the articles and apparatus used in treatment, disposing biowaste, how to protect the health care providers and disinfecting the personal protection equipment used by them. Method of scientific disposal of dead bodies is also learnt. Thanks to the Chinese contribution. The Chinese have developed all the procedures and protocols by trial and error while losing their people.
But it is unfortunate that most of the other countries are unable to implement even the readily available lessons which are hard learnt by Chinese. This showcases the attitude of leaders of socialist society in their care for people in comparison to the callous nature of the leaders of capitalist clan. This also brings out the strength of socialist society in combating a common enemy with participation of all men and women. It is obvious that in USA and such other countries there is no such unified, single hearted effort. Gaps exist between federal and state local governments. Different strategies put forward by different sections voice their self-interests rather than welfare of the society. Indecisiveness prevails because of conflicting and vested interests.
The ongoing discussion on human life and economic stability-which is to be given priority -is clear indication of dilemma in capitalist society. Mr Trump represents them by declaring that American economy is not for a lockdown, whereas Chinese communist leadership ordered for a shutdown of all economic activity without blinking an eye to save lives of people. They mobilised all people, skills, trained personnel, resources and raged a united peoples war against the virus. They controlled the epidemic in their country to a large extent and are on the way to normalcy. Now they are extending a helping hand to all who seek their help to control the pandemic. It is clear that China fought a war not only to save their people but also to save the human race. It appeals that the whole world should join hands and fight unitedly with a concerted global strategy against Covid virus.
It was also propagated widely by western capitalists that Corona was spread deliberately in Wuhan where many western and European companies exist with huge investment. They said it was to intimidate the foreign investors so that the companies sell away their properties and shares at throw away prices to the Chinese government. They continued arguing that China after making a profit of 20 billion dollars in the process, controlled the epidemic after the foreign companies sold their properties. How absurd it sounds; it was the foreign investors who over reacted to the epidemic and expected that China’s economy will dwindle beyond repair and cannot recoup. Hence, they wanted to leave China. But the Chinese leadership took all possible remedial steps and restored their economy. This was beyond the estimates of capitalist economists.
The investors blame that Chinese government overstated the situation regarding virus whereas the CIA says “China has understated the corona virus infection.” “It’s death count also could not be relied upon” says CIA but shows no proof. It shows the utter disregard of capitalist world to the actual situation and they only talk and spread whatever looks convenient for them. They argue based on the predictive models of USA. This is purely fiction and without much data or adequate modelling approaches. They also accuse bureaucratic misreporting by Chinese. This again is based on their suspicions and suppositions and outdated understanding. US authorities are showing the drop of 2.1 crore cell phone connections as an evidence of high death toll in China. The western media also attributes fall in phone connections to the deaths. How ridiculous!
In China communication channels between central and local governments are direct and quite transparent and no one can hide the information. Once the pressure of attending on a huge number of patients in a short span is overcome, the medical services took stock of the situation, reviewed statistics for unrecording, or non- inclusion of deaths that occurred at home, or missed due to initial urgency and lack of uniformity of criteria in different regions. New entries were also due to the changing definition of what constitutes a covid-19 case world over. They recently published the revised, updated statistics on 17th April with total deaths in Wuhan as 3869 instead of 2579. Today total cases in china reached 82,735 and death toll of 4632. The figures are revised to show “accountability to history, to the people and the victims,” and to ensure “open and transparent disclosure of information and data accuracy”.
The main motive of US authorities is to tarnish the image and status of China as the amazingly developing nation. As it reached the status of 2nd largest economy in the world, it is trying for a new order in the world. In place of hegemony and exploitation, it is proposing for establishing a community with shared future for mankind and a community of common destination as goals. It is steadfastly uniting the developing and underdeveloped countries for peace and development.US considers it as a threat to its hegemony and always tries to halt the progress of China in every possible manner. But unable to fulfil its aspiration, it declared a trade war against China which was promptly retaliated. Now it started attacking the economic basis of China which has grown as the manufacturing hub of the world. US wants to affect the exports of China by spoiling the brand image and thus worsen China’s investment environment.
At the outbreak of the epidemic US was hoping that china’s economy will crumble and declared that “More jobs will come to Americans and Mexicans”. But soon it became evident that Corona outbreak made strong turbulence in US economy where as China’s economy stood stable. It is reported that US lost 1.6 crores of jobs in last three weeks. Unable to control the declining economy it resorted to spread fallacious stories on China and trying to shift the responsibility on that country. Now it complains of the poor quality of goods from china. It stooped to such low levels of creating a fear that virus may be imported through Chinese goods. China could withstand such mudslinging and tirade of misinformation. The socialist market economy of China could not be crashed by USA and came out as the most vibrant and vigorous economy. When the whole world is devoting itself in the war against the viral crisis, some countries, especially US, are concentrating on to calculate how many people died in China. If they put the time and energy in handling their viral outbreak, more lives might be saved.
Lastly it is not out of place to think that the present President Mr. Trump is promoting the Anti- China political virus to win support of voters by infusing the xenophobia in Americans. Mr. Trump could not meet his election promises and now he needs some explanation for his failures. He is making China a scapegoat and trying to picturise that he only can lead the confrontation with china if re-elected. Every occasion is used for this purpose and the pandemic provided another opportunity. The tendency of Trump is made more obvious. But the present situation shows a severe back lash from Americans against this tendency of blaming China for everything.
Though United states of America is leading this Anti-china strategy, few other rumour-mongering allies are also a part of smearing China and dragging it down. For example, Australia endorses the ridiculous conspiracy theory. Some media outlets fabricate facts and groundlessly accuse china of being responsible for the pandemic and demand china pay for the losses the pandemic would cause. They attribute present shortages of medical supplies in Australia, any other country for that matter, are “due to the purchases made by china in February to save their population”. Is it not understandable that beyond reproach any country would do the same thing when ravaged by the epidemic, to combat the emergency? They accuse that disaster in world economy is brought by China and it should not be allowed in world trade. Many tall tales are spun demonizing China by the so-called opinion leaders of many countries, and appear regularly in press. Even in our country the baseless, biased stories against China are echoed and re -echoed in press and electronic media.
Even though WHO prohibited 10 years ago the method of naming of new diseases indicating a place, or person, we are regularly told that the present COVID 19 virus as Wuhan virus, China Virus, or corona made in china. From Trump to Telangana government, this propaganda with malicious intentions, is carried out officially. On the other hand, certain methods and tactics applied by China’s government to suppress the viral infection are borrowed by them without gratitude or acknowledging and carried out half-heartedly.
Even in the midst of such enmity and baseless allegations and calumny, China as a responsible world leader is extending all possible help and repeatedly proposing to have a global taskforce and combat the dangerous Covid virus which already claimed tens of thousands of lives. The Chinese government had provided material assistance including medical masks, N95 masks, protective suits, nucleic acid testing reagent and ventilators to 120 countries and four international organizations. China sent its medical teams to several countries.
The western press is making a mountain out of a mole even on this assistance and criticising in every step. An inadequate Covid 19 testing has become a full-blown scandal in US. Many Americans are calling on US government to purchase NAR test kits from China based on their satisfaction on the manufacturing and test capability of China. Thus the people of America are also not buying the version of authorities on the quality of test kits. China can produce as many kits as required and it tests millions a week. The kits are constantly upgraded and updated to avoid the false negative results. Vazyme biotech company of Nanjing supplied millions of kits from January and developed a highly sensitive RTqPCR reagent, but US government accuses of low quality only with the intention of clamping china’s biomedical industries. China disapproves US stand and gently advises to stop trade disputes and attempt to contain the virus instead of blaming china. China also urges the world to deal with their government directly and not to order with private companies who might comprise on quality under the pressure of urgent deliveries.
On March 26 Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech titled “Working Together to Defeat the COVID-19 Outbreak” at the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit, stressing the outbreak is spreading worldwide and the situation is disturbing and unsettling. Xi said: “It’s imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response to win the battle against such a major infectious disease for humanity. Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China will be more than ready to share its good practices, provide assistance in its capacity to countries hit by the growing outbreak, and contribute to the stability of the world economy.”
Blaming China for government’s failures in respective countries will not work. The arguments and attitudes seen now can simply be crystallised as evidence of the struggle between the imperialist hegemony versus democratic aspirations.it also indicates the difference in governance of capitalists versus the socialist forces. This is an echo of the ongoing class struggle in the world order. The virus has no borders, no race, no nationality, no religion and no language. The human race also should unite now crossing all the barricades and annihilate the dreaded enemy. People’s China with the support of friendly nations and its gigantic road and belt initiative, is sure to break the shackles applied by the capitalist section and lead the world for a peaceful, prosperous and harmonious society.
Dr S Jatin Kumar is joint secretary of INDIA CHINA FRIENDSHIP ASSOCIATION-TELANGANA state
Source and references:
1.US Rumour mongering about China’s covid 19 serves multiple purposes—Global Times 9-4-2020
2.Those in west indifferent to China’ searly pain now blame China for their loss-GT 4-4-2020
3.Chinese embassy refutes media reports about china- people’s daily online
4.China Publishes timeline on covid 19- English.news.cn-xinhunet.com 6-04- ‘20
5.China’s solution to fight the first wave of Corona-bussiness-standard.com
6.New Covid19 study shows science must come before politics-CGTN 11th April 2020