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Tuesday August 09, 2022

United States global response to Covid-19 vis-à-vis China

By S.m. Hali
August 30, 2021

Currently, the world is aghast at the rising death toll owing to a suicide bomber’s attack on the Kabul airport and its aftermath but Covid-19 remains a clear and present danger to humanity. The US is seriously pursuing the path of tracing the origin of the pandemic but the US intelligence agencies remain divided on the origins of the coronavirus yet believe China’s leaders did not know about the virus before the start of the global pandemic. President Joe Biden in May ordered a 90-day review of what the White House said was an initial finding leading to “two likely scenarios”: an animal-to-human transmission or a lab leak.

According to an unclassified summary, four members of the US intelligence community say with low confidence that the virus was initially transmitted from an animal to a human. A fifth intelligence agency believes with moderate confidence that the first human infection was linked to a lab. Analysts do not believe the virus was developed as a bioweapon and most agencies believe the virus was not genetically engineered.

In this backdrop, Institute of Peace and Contemporary Affairs (IPCA) at Islamabad, organized an International Webinar on “United States Global Response to COVID-19: Uncertainties, Planning, Impact, Role of Vaccines & Recovery”. Former Federal Minister Senator Nisar Memon was the chief guest, while Ambassador Naela Chohan was the keynote speaker. Participants from USA, France, UK, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan shared their views on the subject.

Senator Nisar Memon informed that over 4.4 million deaths have been reported worldwide due to COVID-19 of which the deaths in the US have been 0.6 million. It is an eye-opener that the US, despite being the most developed state in terms of science and technology, has been the most affected state. Vaccines were announced by China and the United States in December 2020 and despite the fact that a number of vaccines are available across the world, the availability of vaccines to the under-developed and developing world still remains a far cry. A total loss of 11 trillion was reported worldwide in 2020 out of which the total loss of US was 3.2 trillion; hence the US was not only impacted in terms of human life losses but economically as well. China only reported a loss of 382 billion dollars. India reported a loss of 98 billion while Pakistan reported a total loss of 18 billion dollars. The worldwide loss in 2025 is projected at 28 trillion dollars. Human life and economic loss should wake up the international leadership.

Former ambassador Naela Chohan said that the narrative carried out by the Trump and Biden administration is a part of geopolitics. China tackled the pandemic remarkably as there was a coordinated effort from all the ministries of China. They were working with the motto of helping the people. Although, the economic progress of China was slowed down by 1.1% yet, they were aware of the fact that it is temporary and the fundamentals of China’s long term positive, high quality remains unchanged. The social psyche, the political and the economic system of China, all helped them however they must be seen through their own prism rather than viewing them through the eyes of the West. Crisis in the US became grave because they lacked in their healthcare system, the polarized leadership and their concept of freedom of choice within the society.

Group Captain (retd) Sultan Mahmood Hali pointed out the stark difference in tackling the pandemic. Many US politicians and their followers consider wearing masks a communist conspiracy to oppress them, many refuse to get vaccinated or wear masks. In China, not only is its avowed socialist system proven to be magnitudes more efficient and effective, the people themselves still retain a sense of rationality and common humanity. Chinese people trust their government and willingly comply with lockdowns and basic measures like wearing masks in public.

Public Health & Development Consultant KSA Dr. Amanullah Khan said that on the medical front, China has turned out to be a great contributor to help the world fight the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s vaccines have already catalyzed immunization campaigns in more than 40 countries as the country is targeting to produce nearly five billion doses in 2021. From March 1 to May 31, China exported protective materials to 200 countries and regions, among which there were more than 70.6 billion masks, 340 million protective suits, 115 million pairs of goggles, 96,700 ventilators, 225 million test kits, and 40.29 million infrared thermometers.

Assistant Professor National Defense University, Dr. Shafei Moiz Hali was of the view that a future free from the COVID-19 pandemic demands a coordinated global response and so far, the existing global politics and the US’s mishandling of its responses to combat the pandemic at home and abroad are proving to be a major hurdle. The administration in Washington couldn’t handle the pandemic at home nor did it take timely measures to aid others in need. With China stepping in to the void created by the US, the US is left with merely resorting to propaganda based upon a war of narratives around ‘who responded better’.

Health expert from UK Dr Salman Qureshi was of the view that there were certain countries who were involved in blaming each other by speculating various theories regarding the origin of this virus and although, it was seen that World Health Organization tried to promote a coordinated global response.

Political analyst and Vice-President of Solidarité & Progrès, Karel VEREYCKEN said that while China demonstrated repeatedly the efficiency of its “Zero Covid” method, the West denied its results and slanders it as “communist”, “autocratic” and “totalitarian”. China, de facto, by its example, is in a position of leadership while the US and EU governments have been crippled twofold: by their own free market and libertarian ideologies and by their lack of investments in both their production and workforce.

Bureau Chief of Weekly Magazine Executive Intelligence Review, William Jones said that instead of uniting the world in a major offensive to defeat the COVID-19 virus, it has become the subject of a very insidious geopolitical game to undermine the growing influence of China. The result has been a clear increase in the amount of COVID infections and deaths. Cogent discussion took place and academics from around the globe joined the symposium online and agreed that to combat COVID-19, resources must be pooled to rid the world of the scourge.

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