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Day 62 – Commissions of Enquiry after the Epidemic

21.05.2020

In Donald Trump’s lashing out – against the Democrats, State Governors, China – to avoid blame for the very heavy toll paid by the American people for his disastrous management of the Coronavirus epidemic – he has also lashed out against another of his “enemies”, the World Health Organization. At its annual meeting on Tuesday, and following Trump’s threat that the USA would leave and stop all funding, a Resolution was, in fact, passed (by consensus) for a “Review” or Enquiry into its management of the Covid-19 crisis. This is important for the W.H.O. itself. It will help future epidemic containment.


But, it is interesting to note that the USA, while acquiescing in the Resolution as passed, announced publicly that it did not agree on two points in that very Resolution. This absurd situation, signaling the continued incoherence of the USA, is something you only get in the small print.


Firstly, the USA opposes maintaining women’s reproductive health care during the epidemic, as outlined in the Resolution. And secondly, it opposes clauses referring to universal and affordable treatment and vaccines, also outlined in the Resolution. So, though not much publicized, we now know what the USA objects to in the W.H.O. – the W.H.O. opposes forcing women into the arms of backstreet abortionists and into jail cells, and the W.H.O. puts health care for all before profits from drugs. This is at the heart of the USA’s stand against the WHO. At least that is cleared up. Please inform friends of this truth. Here is the link to the actual Resolution passed on Tuesday, the seven pages leading up to the decision to hold the review:


https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA73/A73_CONF1Rev1-en.pdf


and you can Google health or other mainstream sites for the USA’s reservations on these two issues. 


Before leaving this review of the W.H.O, it is worth noting that, for us in the Republic of Mauritius, the advice of the WHO representative for the region, Dr Laurent Musango, seems to have been consistently wise throughout the epidemic. The Jugnauth government owes a great debt to it. Reviewing the WHO’s work, and the Mauritian Government’s after the epidemic is also very important. It is the only way to prevent making the same mistakes. 332 cases is too many, once we had known about the epidemic for two months, and led to 10 deaths that are thus 10 too many. 


The next Enquiry that Donald Trump is on about is one into China’s handling of the outbreak.  He says China must be made “to pay”. As alt-right leader Steve Bannon puts it, there must be a lawyer next to every coffin on Hart Island, where the victims of Covid were buried in rows of trenches for graves when the New York City was being overwhelmed by the dead.


The origin and swift spread of the epidemic, too, despite Donald Trump’s deflections from his own blame and despite his and Bannon’s warmongering, does need international review. 


It is important to know how the outbreak began, and when and where. 


So, in fact, another Enquiry of an international nature does need to be done, at the same time. It needs to look into the spread in the five or six countries with the highest figures early on in the outbreak – China, Italy, France, Spain and the USA – to get a facts-based time-line. 


There is increasing concern, since the discovery of an early case in December in France and cases in California from early February, that the epidemic may have been spreading unnoticed much earlier than previously believed. The particularities of Covid 19 are that so many people who carry the virus are without any symptoms, and its serious symptoms, when apparent, are similar to pneumonia provoked by any number of other diseases. This means the illness may have broken out earlier and begun to spread invisibly – in many of the most affected countries, including China.


Lindsey Collen


for LALIT, a personal view.