Someone, please explain to Donald Trump that we are in the middle of a global pandemic which requires global cooperation and coordination. In fact, as of this writing, approximately 2,100,000 people in 180 countries have come down with coronavirus. The light at the end of the tunnel which Trump talks about is most likely the oncoming train.
So far the developed world has been hit hardest. But Italy, Spain, France, Germany, the UK and America started off with a mere handful of cases of this highly contagious disease. And that is the position the developing world– especially Africa and large slices of the Middle East are in at the moment.
One big difference between the developed and developing world is medical infrastructure. Several developed world countries have crashed through the 10,000-plus death barrier and are still going. They all have advanced medical systems. Mali has three respirators per million people. In the refugee camp at Idlib, water is rationed to two and a half litres per day per family. for washing, cooking and cleaning. The largely Western medical staff working with organisations such as the Red Cross and Medecins San Frontieres have returned to their home countries to deal with the crisis there. Some public health officials are predicting that if Coronavirus takes hold in Africa as it has in Europe and America, 40 per cent of the population (500 million people) could die.
Faced with an almost one in two chance of death, these people will redouble their efforts to flee the grim reaper by crossing the Mediterranean, Aegean and the Atlantic and they will more than likely bring with them a fresh round of Covid-19 cases and infections just as Europe and America are starting to recover from the first.
The problem is further exacerbated by an understandable but worrying lack of knowledge about this new virus. Key questions that cannot yet be answered include; Does having the disease create an immunity to it? And if so, how long does the immunity last? Recently there have been cases in South Korea and China where people have had confirmed cases, recovered and were reported suffering from coronavirus. The WHO’s worldwide staff is only 7,000 people. When collecting information it relies on the honesty of the individual countries.
By all means, hold an investigation. This is the first pandemic for over 100 years. The world as a whole has been caught woefully ill-prepared. No government or multinational organisation will emerge covered in laurel leaves. There are lessons to be learned– that must be learned, but after the world has recovered.
The fight against coronavirus has been compared to a war. The major difference is that the enemy is an amoral insensate being with no respect for national borders, political beliefs, or any norms of human behaviour. But a war nevertheless, a war of humanity against nature. And common sense dictates that you did not hamstring your command structure at the height of the conflict.
Tom Arms is a regular contributor.