Did western governments really have no plans to deal with this emergency at all?
GCHQ. Source: Wikipedia.
Yet we regularly hear about bioterrorism threats… Should I conclude that there is not really such a massive threat – no, not really – because if there was, there would have been plans in place? Was it only used to gain votes by scaring voters?
I am ASTONISHED that there seems to have been zero preparedness for dealing with events like this new corona virus.
Not only do too many politicians appear to have assumed that the Chinese (and the people in other Asian countries) were being stupid… They had no scripts and had no information on the shelves to tell the public about what was going on.
While corona viruses don’t all behave the exact same way and some facts only become clear after a while, governments could have given clear general information about how corona viruses tend to spread.
Instead we heard:
- “Wash your hands.” So these viruses are excreted by hands, perhaps from fingertips or from sweaty hands? (No!) It’s bound to have made many people assume that as long as they were washing their hands or wearing gloves, they couldn’t get or transmit the virus.
- “I’ve just been to a hospital that had several corona virus patients and I shook hands with all of them.” (Said by Boris Johnson at a press conference on 3 March 2020.) So people are just being silly, there is no real health danger, and the Chinese are overreacting and being stupid?
- “Be wary of people who cough. Or sneeze.” But talking and laughing spread these droplets as well! This is general, very basic knowledge. It was not available??? Really???
- “Stay inside.” This must have caused confusion all over because now it sounds like it’s something in the air, maybe like radioactivity. Or air pollution. (Or maybe something that only posh people who exa-cise get?)
What the hell is the public supposed to think and do on the basis of all this?
Clear general information could have been provided, with a note that more details would be added later.
We didn’t know, for example, whether our pets could become ill as well, whether they could spread the virus too. If so, might it be only dogs? Or cats too, or both? We didn’t have that kind of detail yet.
But we did have the kind of detail that said: IT IS SPREAD FROM HUMAN TO HUMAN because that was clear enough to conclude from what was happening in China. COVID-19 is caused by a corona virus, so it was likely to spread like other corona viruses like the flu and the common cold. We know how they spread among us.
And, with hindsight, I say: It seemed to be highly infectious, so the possibility that asymptomatic people were spreading the virus too should have been identified early on.
(Instead, we in the west must have assumed that Asians were just being really really stupid and coughing and spitting in each other’s faces?)
I was and remain quite flabbergasted to see that my own information which was mostly pulled out of my hat (head) and from the internet has been much more complete and accurate – earlier – than what the western world’s leaders had. How on earth can this be???
A long time ago, I was a member of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), for about ten years, but I certainly do not consider myself a microbiologist or virologist. I know very little. I consider myself completely out of touch these days.
So how come I – with near-zero financial resources and no staff – appear to know and understand so much more than the western’s world’s top leaders?
Last night, I saw an American governor (Georgia’s Brian Kemp) state that he had no idea – until yesterday – that asymptomatic people can spread the virus. I’ve known that for what feels like weeks. Ten days? Two weeks?
I also note that many Asian countries have actually been doing well relative to the west, in spite of all the blaming that some politicians are doing. China is sending medical teams to help all over the world, also to the UK.
Taiwan continues to be dismissed and excluded (by the WHO; no exchange of information is formally taking place). Taiwan learned a heck of a lot from SARS (also called SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-1) in 2002-2004 and it remembered and applied those lessons.
In theory, we in the west had access to that information too. We saw what happened in Taiwan back then, didn’t we?
Is it the decision-making that takes too long? But that too would point in the direction of a lack of preparedness.
We need to change a few more things than starting to respect non-human animals more so that we stop making ourselves ill with diseases that come from what is essentially animal abuse.
The lock-down in Wuhan, China started on 23 January 2020… And the west knew about it.
There are lessons to be learned, on all sides.
It seems weird to be saying all that from the sidelines.
But this here, this too, seems to be saying that leadership is “not done”:
“Coronavirus: US Navy removes Captain Brett Crozier who raised alarm”
“The commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt has been removed after saying the US Navy was not doing enough to halt a coronavirus outbreak on board the aircraft carrier.”