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China should feel a greater sense of responsibility for the COVID-19 Crisis

picture:Rural landscape of Changsha, Hunan Province, China (Taken in 1995) ©The International Development Journal Co., Ltd.


『International Development Journal』2020 May edition

China’s openness required

It has been said that poverty is an enemy of humanity. Nowadays, however, the new corona virus, invisible COVID-19, has taken hold as an enemy of humanity, shaking the very foundations of human society. How can humans overcome this crisis? We are being tested to an extreme. The Spanish Flu pandemic was once the most devastating in human history, occurring around the end of World War I. It is said that 20 to 40 million people died around the world.
Then, focusing on the problem that the source of the COVID-19 was in China first, there has been the bizarre behavior of the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretary-General, Tedros Adhanom.
China’s responsibility as a source of the COVID-19 is very significant. Despite its infection occurring in Wuhan, Hubei Province, at the end of 2019, it is said that disclosure to the world about the epidemic was delayed for more than one month, and the world missed the opportunity to deal with it earlier.
Due to the delay in initial action, COVID-19 has exploded into a worldwide epidemic. It was reported that Xi Jinping ordered clarification on “where the pathogens came from and where it will go”, but this directive cannot be completely understood. If it is an order while knowing that the pathogen broke out in China and leaked to the rest of the world, the aim can only be the transfer of responsibility. That COVID-19 broke out in Wuhan cannot be disputed. From there, it was spread all at once around the world. Instead, China should be open enough to accept a global virus research team, collaborate, and provide the information to the rest of the world.

Criticism against WHO Executive Director

Next, I would like to mention WHO’s Secretary-General, Tedros Adhanom, whose behavior has been peculiar. There are reasons why he was tardy in declaring a worldwide pandemic.
In 2009, the new influenza pandemic spread around the world. At the time, WHO declared that a pandemic threatened humanity, but in reality it was not much different from a seasonal flu and the European Union Parliament announced that it was not a pandemic. It was also pointed out that pharmaceutical companies influenced WHO’s decision-making at the time. This time, Secretary-General Adhanom was cautious. It is suspected that WHO was traumatized by this error in judgement in the past. It is also speculated that China’s behind-the-scenes work intended to ease the impact of the pandemic worked.
Finally, he announced that it was a pandemic but it was not the right timing. Regarding the delay of WHO’s declaration, he said, “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.”
However, in general, this response has been criticized for not being justified. Many people speculated that the Chinese government influenced WHO’s delay. And, there is another viewpoint that he is from Ethiopia which has a very close relationship with China. In Ethiopia, there are many infrastructure construction projects by Chinese companies, including roads and railways.

Pigs and ducks with pathogens

Dr. Jared Diamond, a professor at the University of California wrote in his book “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” that a collective infectious disease that affects only humans emerged when the human population increased and people formed groups. How did these outbreaks happen and come to impact only humans?
Among the pathogens that cause human-specific diseases, there are closely-related species that are close to molecular biology, and they cause mass infections only in livestock and pets. However, not all types of animals are involved in these outbreaks. This type of illness affects only animals with “gregariousness”, such as humans, that can maintain large populations in which the pathogen can survive. In other words, when colonized animals such as cows and pigs were domesticated, there were infestations of pathogens that caused mass infections.
For example, the rinderpest virus, which is highly contagious among cattle, is very close to the human measles virus, but it only infects ruminants. Also, the human measles virus does not infect cattle. The similarity between the two viruses suggests that the human measles virus evolved from the rinderpest virus. Perhaps the rinderpest virus transmitted from cattle to humans has evolved into a human measles virus by changing some attributes so that it can adapt to the new environment of the human body.
He also said, “In addition to measles, there are other diseases in domestic animals that are similar to the ones most commonly transmitted to humans.” It should be noted that “pigs” and “ducks” are mentioned as livestock with pathogens closest to influenza as a human disease. I, myself, recall the rural scenery around Wuhan, which was the source of Covid-19. Most of the farmers keep pigs and edible ducks there. Indeed, there are livestock with pathogens closest to the flu.
In addition, he focuses on influenza, colds and whooping cough as pathogens as modern products, and pays attention to their powerful infectious power. Even human immune defenses cannot prevent some invasion. That is influenza, which alters the part called the antigen recognized by human antibodies and tricks the human immune system. Thus, the flu is said to be new. People who got the flu two years ago don’t have antibodies to the new virus, Covid-19. Mankind continues to be threatened by invisible enemies – without discriminating between rich or poor.

By Mitsuya Araki, Editor-in-chief of IDJ

羅針盤  新型コロナウイルスの衝撃 中国はもっと責任感を持て!







国際開発ジャーナル主幹 荒木光弥


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