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article imageOp-Ed: Global infections 90K per day — 62 nations support virus inquiry

By Paul Wallis     May 17, 2020 in World
Sydney - You’d think the pandemic was over. It’s nothing like over. The global infection rate is still around 90K per day. Meanwhile Australia’s push for an inquiry now has 62 nations supporting it as a few possibly tricky issues emerge about the virus.
The support for Australia’s move for an inquiry significantly doesn’t come from the United States or China. China, for some incomprehensible reason, is playing Trump’s blame game on his terms. It’s a very strange, not to say bizarre, assumption. It’s almost as bizarre as Trump’s infatuation with babbling about totally unworkable solutions for so many situations which often don’t even exist.
China seems to assume that any inquiry will be all about blaming China for the pandemic as per Trump’s bombastic line. Equally strangely, the assumption seems to assume that all Western nations and their experts are even listening to Trump. Nobody’s actually been listening to him for years when it comes to critical issues. The only things people listen to is America’s latest disasters, where his frothy, idiotic rhetoric is unavoidable.
Australia is meanwhile spectacularly unimpressed with China’s negative, hostile, response to the idea of an inquiry. Threats to Australian exports, trade, tourism, etc. haven’t gone down at all well. We get the point that Trump’s ravings do colour in the picture for China, but we don’t see why China doesn’t understand we’re talking about the pandemic, not senile geopolitical tantrums.
Current state of the pandemic and the virus
The global infection rate hasn’t budged from the original numbers. It goes up a bit, it goes down a bit, but it’s static at 80K – 100K. These numbers would be grounds for an inquiry for any contagious disease, even something much less serious than a potentially lethal disease.
There’s plenty of reason to believe new risks are emerging as the virus mutates. What is now ominously being called “COVID 2.0” is an obvious possible threat. More contagious forms are obviously possible.
They’re not only possible; they’re being identified. In a horrifying irony, Chinese scientists from Zhejiang University have noted a particularly nasty-sounding viral mutation which can deliver a lot more “viral load”, i.e. deliver more infectious materials. The Chinese scientists also found one strain that can deliver 270 times more viral load compared to the least dangerous strain. That’s no trivial discovery.
A viral load of 270 times the mild strain might cause one to raise one’s eyebrow that extra millimetre, perhaps? To lose fascination with members of one’s own language group who apparently don’t know how to process facts? It just might.
The original pandemic was bad enough. A more deadly strain of the virus would be a huge threat to China. So – Is China still saying that global coordination based on a solid data set isn’t required? This is a global issue. It requires a global response.
Rise of COVID-19 deaths
Rise of COVID-19 deaths
Further pandemic problems? Of course there are further problems.
Underlying this not-very-amusing situation is the fact that this virus could become globally endemic. If blame’s to be passed around, the inept responses of the US and UK governments have a lot to do with the spread of the virus.
The standard “There’s no problem/ there’s a problem/ take two months to do a damn thing” response from these two nations has done wonders for spreading the virus. Combined with appallingly slack testing, the slow responses have been devastating. America is now the most infected place on Earth, by far. The UK’s death rate is absurdly high for a country with 66 million people.
This is how diseases become endemic.
A large mass of infections anywhere is enough to creates an inevitable ongoing cycle of infections. There’s always enough pathogens in circulation to keep the disease active in those locations. It means the virus may never go away.
To achieve this wondrous state of affairs, the USA and UK systematically ignored their experts. They didn’t do a damn thing for way too long. Information had to be put together in professional circles to get any sort of picture of the actual state of the pandemic. There was no data set, and if not for Johns Hopkins setting up a monitoring system there may not have been any properly coordinated data to work with at all.
This is what the inquiry idea is about. There is a clear, urgent need for proper management, international cooperation, and good science. This pandemic could cause a major economic Depression, and that’s not even the worst case scenario. A more virulent strain could be incredibly destructive worldwide. ]
The Australian view is that we focus on these issues. If this pandemic gets out of hand, geopolitics is irrelevant. We also don’t go asking loudmouth windbag foreign ignoramuses for pointers in epidemiology or international diplomacy in major crises, for some reason. This situation is far too serious to indulge such fools, wherever they come from or whatever their politics.
(Perhaps someone should tell Trump that viruses don’t watch FOX? It might help.)
Chinese backing for an inquiry would be a big help. China’s scientific input would be invaluable. Let’s hope something can be worked out. Time is precious, and we don’t know how much time is available before something else big and nasty might happen.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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