Western conceit continues to cost lives

By Shen Yi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/10 12:23:40

Passenger with face mask is seen in a metro train in Manhattan of New York, the US, on March 4. Photo: Xinhua

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to threaten global security, with the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases rising Monday to 113,584, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. China on Monday reported just 19 new infections and 17 new deaths.

During an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Bruce Aylward, leader of the WHO team that visited China, said that China's counterattack can be replicated, but it will require speed, money, imagination and political courage.

The continuous rapid rise in new cases in so many countries demonstrates that some people need to pluck up their courage and cast off their racist, Western-centric arrogance.

All people in all countries and regions are exposed to the threat brought about by the coronavirus, regardless of race, history, society, culture, political system and ideology. Some people believe that most people infected by COVID-19 suffer only mild symptoms. But "mild" in the context of suffering from COVID-19 doesn't often equate to a simple illness that takes just a few days to shake off.  

Aylward clearly explained this during his interview: "'Mild' was a positive test, fever, cough - maybe even pneumonia, but not needing oxygen. 'Severe' was breathing rate up and oxygen saturation down, so needing oxygen or a ventilator. 'Critical' was respiratory failure or multi-organ failure." COVID-19 is indeed not a minor flu as some people still assume.

Another noteworthy fact is the link between the fatality rate and the absolute number of infections. A popular estimate of the COVID-19 fatality rate is between 2 to 4 percent. Although the number seems low, the key is the total number of infections. If the total confirmed cases reach 100 million, the death toll could be an unimaginable 2 million to 4 million.

Adopting effective measures to control infections and reduce the loss of lives should be the only "political correct" way of fighting the coronavirus. No human rights criterion suggests that human life is unworthy of saving.

The epidemic broke out in different countries at different times. The countries that took decisive and effective steps encountered serious challenges at first but have now earned respect and recognition for their efforts. However, some Western media outlets, including the Financial Times, New York Times, Fox News and Bloomberg, still do not have a correct understanding of the epidemic.

Based on the Western-centric assumptions, the Financial Times published an article written in Chinese, explaining why British people are not wearing face masks. The commentary defines not wearing masks as a manifestation of an advanced civilization, and regards masked Chinese people as lacking trust.

The New York Times and Bloomberg, in many of their commentaries and news articles, interpret the outbreak from a political perspective. Any fact-based criticism by Chinese media outlets of the West's flawed handling of the epidemic is often viewed as somehow tainted by Western media outlets and considered a mere publicity stunt.

We can also see a worrisome lack of coordination in the US. The websites of the WHO, the US CDC and Johns Hopkins University each reported on Monday different numbers of confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in the US. 

This is worrisome because the US, the world's super power which is thought to have the strongest medical resources in the world, can't even confirm the exact number of COVID-19 infections. 

Some people from other parts of the world might be willing to attribute the phenomenon to the US federal system. But why isn't the US system designed to better protect its people?

It's time for the US and the West to let go of their egotism, start to confront the epidemic from the perspective of protecting people's lives and health, learn from China's experience, adopt effective measures and jointly cooperate on defeating COVID-19 with other countries. Every attempt to politicize the epidemic or look for a scapegoat only reveals Western hypocrisy that will continue to cost the lives of their own people. 

The author is director at the Research Center for Cyberspace Governance of Fudan University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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