The pandemic sweeping through the U.S. and the world has left millions, hurt and upset. 11.9 billion in tax dollars go to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in America a year, and it appears that they have failed at both preventing the coronavirus and controlling it.
However, for the millions who are looking for someone to blame, it may not be that easy to point fingers because governmental bodies and independent health organizations around the world have massively failed, together bringing us to our current situation.
Mainly, two major culprits stand out: China, for their widespread misinformation at the start of the virus, and the World Health Organization, for accepting and spreading this incorrect assessment.
On Jan. 22, going off of the formal statements made by the Chinese government, the WHO tweeted, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan, China.”
That was two days after the first confirmed U.S. case, one day before the Chinese government put Wuhan into lockdown, and far too late to be spreading information that was so blatantly false—especially for an organization as widely recognized as the WHO.
The “preliminary investigations” were missing some key details, and the parts that were included were far from fact. U.S. intelligence informed the Coronavirus task force that “What appears evident now is that long before the world learned in December that China was dealing with this, and maybe as much as a month earlier than that, that the outbreak was real in China,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a press conference on April 1st.
For an organization that proudly states on their website that one of their main purposes of their organization is to “prepare for emergencies by identifying, mitigating and managing risks”, they did quite a poor job.
Not all the blame can be placed on the WHO for listening to false reports, some of the blame must go to the Chinese government for attempting to cover up an imminent danger to us all.
For example, the Chinese government was not reporting cases with no symptoms until March 31 when they updated their numbers to add over 1,500 cases to their numbers overnight.
On top of this, “Stacks of thousands of urns outside funeral homes in Hubei province have driven public doubt in Beijing’s reporting,” according to TIME magazine’s reporting on April 2nd.
All of these mistruths and intentional omissions of important information led most of the public to wonder if any of China’s numbers can be treated as fact.
Currently, China is reporting 3,342 deaths compared to the U.S. at just over 26,000.
“The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false, without commenting on any classified information, this much is painfully obvious: The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime,” Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said.
The reports from ground zero in a global pandemic like this are critical in how the rest of the world prepares their defenses.
The U.S.’ shortage of tests early on in the crisis can, and ought to be, directly attributed to the underreported information being released from China.
“If the regime had taken action as soon as human-to-human transmission was detected, it might have contained the virus and prevented a global pandemic,” according to the Washington Post.
However, some may argue that the blame is not entirely on China, as President Trump also underestimated the extent of the crisis by both comparing it to the flu, which has about 1/20th the fatality rate and by publicly stating on multiple occasions that he hoped the country would be open by Easter (April 12), a dangerously optimistic estimate.
However, Trump’s initial lack of serious action may be in part to the serious underestimation by the Chinese government, which led him and many global leaders to believe that this all was nowhere near as bad as it actually was.
At the end of the day, the blame game does nothing to help us as we move forward through one of America and the world’s most troubling times in decades.
Ultimately, the world should learn a lesson about who they trust for life-saving information and perhaps in the future be a bit warier of trusting authoritarian regimes.