The World Today for March 20, 2023


Lessons, Please


Three years ago, people around the world began lockdowns that shuttered businesses, schools, government offices, and other institutions that had been the hallmarks of everyone’s lives. Now, after Covid vaccines and other measures have reduced – but not eliminated – fears surrounding the virus, the question is, what has the world learned from the pandemic?

Scientists believe Covid-19 first appeared at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China in late December 2019. While there are theories as to the origins of the virus, including zoonotic transmission and a lab leak, Chinese authorities have not shared much information beyond this point, however, reported Al Jazeera.

As Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently complained to the Australian Broadcasting Company, conspiracy theories about the virus’ origin are legion. But American authorities and others have contended that the virus was likely leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The murkiness surrounding the history of a public health and humanitarian disaster that unfolded before the world’s eyes – nearly seven million people have died from the virus worldwide, according to the World Health Organization – is one reason why global leaders need to assume another such crisis will occur again, argued International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva.

“What COVID and the (Russian-Ukraine) war taught us is we live in a more shock-prone world,” warned Georgieva at a CNBC event. “What the earthquake in Turkey and Syria taught us – think of the unthinkable.”

With that pessimism in mind, advocates including Nobel laureates, former heads of state, top scientists and others recently called for the world’s most affluent countries to make sure they can help the world’s poorest countries obtain sufficient quality vaccines to dispel the virus from their countries, Deutsche Welle reported.

Vaccine inequities resulted in 1.3 million preventable deaths worldwide, they said. “Nationalism and profiteering around vaccines resulted in a catastrophic moral and public health failure which denied equitable access to all,” New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Helen Clark told the Guardian.

Meanwhile, in China, where officials lifted their draconian zero-Covid policies late last year, the government is devoting $25 billion for “prevention and control” activities at the local level, wrote the South China Morning Post. The country seems to have put the pandemic behind it. Also, the US and China have loosened restrictions on traveling between the two countries, added CNN.

But nobody knows exactly how many Chinese people have died since stop-the-spread restrictions were repealed, the Atlantic magazine explained.

Indian officials don’t have that luxury. They are seeing an uptick in virus cases, raising questions about whether another populous country might now need to institute stricter measures to protect public health, noted the Economic Times.

Despite India and other hot spots for Covid, many believe the pandemic is behind us. What’s in front, meanwhile, are the lessons.

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