US President Donald Trump looks on during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 24, 2020, in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
By Dennis Etler
The current effort by the US and its close allies to cast China as responsible for the spread of COVID-19 and the ensuing pandemic is a cynical attempt at dissembling, an obfuscation of the record and a case of turning facts on their head.
Washington is trying to rewrite history, even when the record should be fresh in peopleís minds, by accusing China of a lack of transparency over the true extent of the outbreak in China. This accusation flies in the face of reality. In fact, China responded to the outbreak far more quickly than had ever been previously done.
It seems to be forgotten that the first patients presented with an unidentified influenza-like-illness, which is a medical diagnosis of possible influenza or other ailment, causing a set of symptoms, commonly including fever, shivering, chills, malaise, dry cough, loss of appetite, body aches, and nausea, typically in connection with a sudden onset of illness.
The disease was first recognized in mid-December and progressed to a SARS-like viral pneumonia in some patients. The cluster of cases was small and seemed initially to be focused on a local food market in Wuhan.
Doctors in Wuhan who were treating the patients soon became alarmed and by the end of December 2019 had alerted the Chinese Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Under normal circumstances, the US would have had a representative at the Chinese CDC to help detect disease outbreaks in China and communicate directly with the US CDC, but the Trump administration eliminated that position several months beforehand. Nonetheless, the Chinese CDC notified the US CDC of their concerns.
China quickly mobilized to investigate the outbreak and identify the pathogen. By January 11, 2020, they had identified and genetically sequenced a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which was made available to the world scientific community for research and study. At this point, it was not known whether the disease could be transmitted by person-to-person contact or how contagious it was.
Chinese researchers were open and aboveboard. They published their findings in leading scientific and medical journals such as the British journal Lancet. At the time China was lauded for its openness and transparency. Even US President Trump expressed gratitude for Chinaís efforts at containing and controlling the outbreak.
Once person-to-person transmissibility was confirmed and the caseload began to increase China swung into action. By January 23, when there were 840 cases and 17 deaths recorded, Chinese authorities realized they had a serious epidemic on their hands. They took extreme measures to lock-down Wuhan and Hubei province in order to mitigate the spread of the disease. At the time China was criticized for its "Draconian measures" which the Western media said violated human rights and personal freedoms.
By late January the first instances of the international spread of COVID-19 appeared. It was not widespread and the WHO advised that precautions be taken so as not to allow the disease to reach pandemic proportions. All throughout January and February the US government and the CDC were issuing alerts within the Trump Administration that there was a growing potential for a COVID-19 pandemic, but the warnings went unheeded.
Now because of Trumpís cavalier attitude, gross negligence, and criminal lack of preparation the US is faced with a medical, social, and economic catastrophe of unimagined severity.
Trump has only himself to blame, but he refuses to accept any responsibility and frantically casts about seeking to blame others for his own failure. China, of course, is his favorite whipping boy, so he goes about creating a just-so story about Chinaís responsibility for the outbreak and its spread.
Given the tenor of the times the entire Western world, its governments, and media, have jumped on the anti-China bandwagon and accuse China of misleading the world as to the origins and spread of the disease.
This is perhaps the greatest act of political sleight-of-hand that has ever been attempted. It shows the utter hypocrisy and abject dishonesty not only of Trump and his minions but his political adversaries as well.
But that is not all! Blaming China for the Westís failings is just the start of their blame game. Now, in light of the overwhelming evidence that the coronavirus had a natural origin, conspiracy theories, that were debunked months ago, that a Wuhan virology lab may have been responsible for the accidental spread of the disease, have resurfaced and are being promoted by Trumpís right-wing propaganda mill.
Even Trumpís critics are entertaining that idea without a shred of evidence, in order to further implicate and demonize China as the villain in their fabricated hit job. But, when China draws attention to safety concerns at US bio-weapons facilities, they are lambasted for spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories. It seems that the US and its allies can cast aspersions on China, but China cannot even ask questions about the possible US role in what has transpired.
Trump, meanwhile, cannot accept the fact that China was able to win its battle against COVID-19 with relatively light casualties, while the US, Europe, and the UK have seen an escalating death toll in the tens of thousands. How can that be? Trump cannot accept that reality, so he has to fuel doubt about Chinaís death toll. But, China did what had to be done to contain, control, and mitigate the epidemic. If Trump and his Western allies had done the same they too would have been able to hold the disease in check, but they didnít, so now they have to try and evade their ineptitude and disparage those who got it right.
If this whole episode doesnít expose the US and the West for its moral and ethical bankruptcy, nothing can.
Dennis Etler is an American political analyst who has a decades-long interest in international affairs. Heís a former professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. He recorded this article for Press TV website.
SOURCE: PRESS TV