France Media Agency07 Jan 2021 1:15:57 PM IST
The geopolitical tensions leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic have influenced the international health response and dramatically exacerbated the crisis, said a renowned political scientist and global health expert. AFP. More than a year after the novel coronavirus first appeared in China, more than 1.8 million people have died and nearly 86 million have been infected with the virus worldwide. It can’t be that bad, said Ilona Kickbusch, founding director and president of the Global Health Center in Geneva.
Without the trade wars and other tensions in 2019, “January 2020 would not have played like it did,” she said in an interview.
“Geopolitics … puts the world in this situation. “”
Previous global health crises have emerged during times of great geopolitical tension, Kickbusch said, but countries have generally managed to move beyond their differences over the past few decades to work together to fight deadly diseases.
The world managed to unite to eradicate smallpox at the height of the Cold War, she said.
Even when SARS, another coronavirus, emerged in China and wreaked havoc between 2002 and 2003, the global response has been a response of cooperation and pressure for greater transparency, she said.
At the time, Beijing admitted it had made mistakes in reorganizing its Ministry of Health and establishing the Chinese Centers for Disease Control. Other countries have given it the benefit of the doubt and called for more cooperation.
“SARS has actually made it clear to China that it needs to be much more integrated into the (global) system,” said Kickbusch. “It was an opening phase. “”
Closure of the mind
This is in sharp contrast to the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now she said, “There is a very clear closure of the mind on all sides. “”
Prior to the crisis, geopolitical tensions entered the global health response, she said, noting that the US-China trade war had become a “geopolitical guilt game”.
As a result, she said, “China totally crushed the United States (and did what it did),” and in the end, “the whole world suffered.”
One of the victims of responding to a confrontational pandemic could be the much-needed clarity regarding the animal source of Covid-19.
The origins remain controversial amid accusations and suspicions from the international community, and Beijing’s obscurity is determined to maintain control over the virus.
A team of international experts will finally travel to China this week to do some research. However, observers fear that the route has cooled down more than a year after the virus first appeared.
“I think it will be extremely difficult to find the source of the virus as a lot of time has passed,” said Kickbusch.
Although the origin may remain a mystery, she hoped the mission would help uncover how fateful choices were made and highlight the importance of decoupling global health from geopolitics.
“We have to spend 2021 getting global health going again,” she said.
Otherwise, she warned, “We’re going to have serious and serious problems.”
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