Thursday, November 30, 2023

The world needs vaccines, investigating the origins of covid is a distraction that can wait

It was inevitable that a demand by the United States for a further investigation on the origins of coronavirus would extract a strong response from China.

Quite naturally China feels bullied.

And the country, given its past history of humiliation by neighbours takes unkindly to any hint of bulling however faint.

The response from China has been strong and global.

The biggest economy in the world has unleased all the power it has to show that America is doing everything in bad faith. And that science and fairness are the first casualties in what they have called a witch-hunt.

China, quite rightly have said the efforts by America are a distraction.

They point out to an earlier report by the WHO that China has cooperated with WHO and that any future investigations should now focus on the United States.

The report by WHO was inconclusive.

But China has seized on it as evidence of exoneration.

For Africa all this is petty rubbish.

For Africans the origins of coronavirus is not an immediate priority.

The priority is vaccine.

Everything else is secondary.

And China has been on a charm offensive, pumping vaccine into Africa at high speed.

Early this year President Joe Biden ordered a dozen of American intelligence agencies to determine the origins of coronavirus.

Last month, after a 90 day long investigation, they submitted what like the WHO report also seemed inconclusive.

The origins of coronavirus has now become a subject of a geopolitical contest between the world’s two biggest economies.

But for Africa and her people this competition which is effectively a distraction is deadly.

It has become a life and death matter.

The origins of coronavirus are important to prevent it in future.

But finding its origin should not be such a toxic undertaking.

Establishing where coronavirus has brought out the worst instincts in both the United States and China.

China says there are military laboratories in America that should be thoroughly checked.

It says these labs have a very poor safety track record.

America for its part points to a virology lab in Wuhan.

As in every other similar instance, the first victim has been the truth.

Both countries are missing the point.

The issue should be pursued multilaterally through the WTO.

If WHO feel they still need a further investigation, they should do so without being pressurized.

All countries should open up and cooperate with WHO experts.

America and China are missing the point.

Efforts should all go towards vaccinating the world.

Without that the world economy will not recover.

In fact that is already showing in China where because of rising corona the economy has showed signs of a contraction compared to the financial crisis in 2008.

Also troubling is the fact that in America several states are experiencing a surge in the virus.

China has had to resort to regional lockdowns including putting restrictions on travel for some areas.

When this happens in these big economies, the whole world suffers.


Read this week's paper