By William J. Furney
The man who destroyed the World Health Organisation, as though it was struck down by a lethal virus, doesn’t know when to stop. Tedros is at it again, this week warning the world that he hopes the global pandemic will be over in two years.
With a big smile on his face as though he had won a prize — as more than 805,000 people around the world lie dead from the bug the WHO had a basic duty to protect the world from — the former Ethiopian minister of health said the new coronavirus had spread faster than the Spanish flu that struck the world in 1918 and claimed some 50 million lives. Yes, because people weren’t jetting around the world then, blithely transferring a contagion from one country to another.
Perhaps he loves the limelight, but he’s in it for all the wrong reasons. And many are way past tired listening to a man in charge of global health who early in the crisis told the world there was nothing to worry about and praised China, where the pandemic originated, for doing a terrific job controlling the outbreak as authorities there rounded up anyone who dared speak out, even doctors dealing with initial cases, one of whom died not long after getting an official warning about trying to raise the alarm.
Tedros, who is not a doctor of medicine but of community health philosophy and only got the top WHO job with the backing of China, said it took two years for the Spanish flu to work its way around the world before dying out. Back then, however, there were no lockdowns, social distancing or face masks, a trio of virus-busting measures that it’s hoped will soon bring this pandemic to an end. As it is, there is much hysteria about a steep rise in cases in many countries, though it’s mostly due to infections among young people out socialising and there has not been any dramatic rise in hospital admissions or fatalities.
So yet again, the WHO doesn’t know what it’s talking about. At least Tedros had the sense to acknowledge that with today’s medical technology, we may be able to wipe out coronavirus “in a shorter time” than two years. You think? Already a growing number of countries are fast-tracking vaccines, with Britain’s Oxford University leading the pack and many raising eyebrows that Russia has already developed a workable one, despite limited human testing.
The WHO has not just lost half its funding, after an enraged United States withdrew its membership over what it said was the UN’s global health arm’s disastrous handling of the coronavirus outbreak and Tedros’ obsequience to Beijing, but much of its credibility too.
And with all the alarm and hysteria that forced crippling lockdowns and brought the world to a standstill, did we get it horribly wrong anyway? Sweden is the outlier in the lockdown and panic stakes, refusing to do anything other than keep calm and carry on, while keeping your distance and washing hands regularly and not using masks — and the Nordic nation is now seeing falloffs in infections but in other nations they’re sharply on the rise.
Sweden took measures to protect those most at risk, however, including the elderly in care homes, but kept schools, offices and retail outlets open. So was every other nation over the top in their coronavirus response? Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Lofven, was sure he did the right thing.
“The strategy that we adopted, I believe is right — to protect individuals, limit the spread of the infection,” he told local newspaper Dagens Nyheter this week.
“What has been discussed most, and what we did differently in Sweden, was that we did not close schools. Now there are quite a few people who think we were right.”
Meanwhile children all over the world have been out of school for months, imperilling their future at a critical time, and some countries, including Britain — which has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, at over 41,500 — are still wringing their hands over letting kids back to school in September.
And amid concerns that face masks may not prevent the spread of the bug or be unhygienic or even cause respiratory problems, Lofven said “… what I absolutely believe, is that they cannot be the main tool we use. “What is important still is social distancing, testing and tracking. Those must be our main focus in order to reduce infection.”
It’s time for common sense over this outbreak that so many are losing their heads over, and at a time when many more people are dying from other diseases that they haven’t been getting treatment for. And it’s time Tedros packed his bags and moved on, because no one is listening.