By William J. Furney
The United Nations, which was set up after World War 2, to bring about peace in the world, says we are in World War 3. As of now, over 1.1 million people around the globe have been infected and nearly 64,000 have lost their lives to an unseen enemy that originated late last year from, it’s believed, wild animals — bats, pangolins or snakes — on sale for human consumption at traditional markets in China.
Those places of dangerous sale remain open, according to several media reports this week, with images of dead bats lined up for sale at one market, raising the urgent question of just how serious the UN, and its apparently China-supporting arm the World Health Organisation are about protecting people from harm.
UN Secretary General António Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, said at the launch in New York this week of a report into the impact of the pandemic that his organisation — famously top-heavy and stuffed with countless, self-important personnel on enormously bloated salaries — and the world were battling their biggest challenge in recent times.
“The new coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core, claiming lives and people’s livelihoods,” Guterres observed.
“Covid-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” he said, and urged “an immediate, coordinated health response to suppress transmission and end the pandemic”. (A quarter of the world is in lockdown, including myself, for the last three weeks, and counting — does this not count as a unified health measure?)
He need not look to his colleagues at the World Health Organisation, whose chief Dr Tedros praised China earlier this year for its coronavirus response even as the Communist regime was arresting whistleblowers; and he couldn’t even declare the globally spreading outbreak a pandemic when it was clear that was exactly what was happening.
Guterres later said, via his Twitter account, that “Recovery from #coronavirus must lead to a better world. We simply cannot return to where we were before #COVID19 struck, with countries unnecessarily vulnerable to crises.”
What about organisations that are tasked with protecting people’s health around the world yet do precious little other than renaming coronavirus so it won’t upset anyone?
Ethiopia’s Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus (not a medical doctor and the first non-medic to helm the WHO; he holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Community Health) was supposed to help protect the world from disease when he ascended to the WHO’s gilded throne with the fulsome backing of big-fee-paying Beijing nearly three years ago. Instead, he has faced growing criticism of his praise for China’s efforts in tackling the outbreak, at a time when the Chinese authorities were not only suppressing information about it but forcing doctors who tried to raise the alarm to shut up, one of whom died from the virus. The whole, bumbling and forceful episode stoked outrage among ordinary Chinese, many of whom are sick to death of living under an authoritarian regime and one that deleted their critical social media posts as soon as they appeared. Some wondered if the stone-faced mandarins in the halls of power in Beijing had finally gone too far.
Unsurprisingly, there are growing calls for the hapless Tedros to step down. An online petition, so far signed by over 700,000 people, says the global health body chieftain “is not fit for his role” and that the WHO is “supposed to be politically neutral”. It adds that “without any investigation”, Tedros believes what the communist rulers in Beijing say about their infection and death rates — while many believe those numbers may not be accurate and might actually be far higher.
Among them is US intelligence, which has submitted a report to the White House saying China lied about the extent of its coronavirus outbreak, and that infection and death rates are far higher than the more than 82,500 confirmed cases and 3,330 fatalities it has reported, according to a report from Bloomberg News this week. That’s in a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, and by contrast, there are over 290,000 cases of coronavirus infection in the US (population 327 million), and more than 7,800 deaths. Something doesn’t add up.
“Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side, and I’m being nice when I say that,” President Trump said at a news briefing at the White House on Wednesday.
In an interview with the BBC this week, Bill Gates called the coronavirus outbreak “an unbelievable tragedy” and one that would divert the Microsoft founder and one of the world’s richest people’s work away from critical malaria, polio and other work, though his humanitarian foundation. Malaria claims around 405,000 lives around the world every year, from some 228 million infections, according to the most recent WHO statistics, from 2018, making the mosquito-borne disease one of the world’s biggest killer,
As of now, we’re no nearer to an end to the global coronavirus crisis that is destroying lives and livelihoods and causing entire societies to implode. Rates of infection and death remain stubbornly high in such heavily afflicted places as Italy, Spain and the United States, and as we head into the Christian “holy week”, “Good Friday” and Easter holiday, it’s predicted things will only get far worse.
Prayer won’t do much to help the terrified people of the world right now — nuns and scores of priests have been killed by the contagion: a tragic case of devoting your life to an invisible deity only to be slain by a pathogen you also cannot see — but the mass quarantine in place will ensure the virus cannot transmit and the global outbreak will eventually burn out.
Until the next time.
Unless the WHO and governments of the world demand an end to China’s ferocious meat markets that are increasingly putting people around the planet at risk of death and devestation.