The superpower United States now has more confirmed Coronavirus cases than any other country in the world, including China. At 104,256 cases and 1,704 deaths, the U.S. has emerged as the gold medalist on the chart of the Covid-19 confirmed cases. In terms of death toll, the U.S. is just behind Italy (9,134), Spain (5,138), China (3,295), Iran (2,378) and France (1,995).
The fact that the Coronavirus cases in America quickly surpassed 100,000 on Friday, doubling in just 3 days, speaks volumes how fast the pandemic is spreading in the country. At the beginning of the month, there were only about 100 confirmed cases in the U.S. In less than a month, the country surpassed China and Italy to become the country with the largest outbreak in the world.
Yet, President Donald Trump somehow saw it possible for Americans to go back to work in a few weeks time, prompting critics to mock him that there isn’t any “Go Back To Work Law”. While the US$2.2 trillion Coronavirus stimulus bill – the largest of its kind in the history of America – was extremely sexy, it will soon dry out if the virus continues to spread for months.
As the world rushes to work on at least 20 Covid-19 vaccines, scientists say the time consuming process of conducting clinical tests and safety approvals to produce vaccines at an industrial scale for the mass market could take up to 18 months. According to the University of Michigan, the U.S. consumer sentiment fell to a 3-year low as the pandemic takes a toll on the economy.
Donald Trump is very concerned and quite panicked about the outbreak as it could affect his 2020 presidential election. Hence, the easiest way out is to blame the Chinese for everything. When asked about the latest Coronavirus figures at a White House briefing on Thursday afternoon, President Trump argued that it was “a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing”.
To lend credence to the U.S. testing figures, Trump questioned the figures from China, saying – “You don’t know what the numbers are in China. I’m sure you’re not able to tell what China is testing or not testing, I think that’s a little hard.” Amusingly, Trump later tweeted – “China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”
However, as the blaming games escalate between the U.S. and China, Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin immediately mocked the U.S. president. Mr. Hu said on Twitter – “Don’t you feel embarrassed talking about testing? The US just tested 300,000 people by March 24, while China has tested millions, at least 10 times that of the US or more. Your bragging needs treatment.”
Mr. Hu slammed Trump’s failure to learn from other countries, presumably Italy – “The U.S. quickly became the country with the largest number of infection cases, indicating that many people will die later. It is unfortunate. Trump government failed to draw lessons from other countries, leading to this situation. They should feel guilty toward Americans and humankind.”
Trump is increasingly desperate because jobless claims hit the roof – a record 3.3 million people filed claims for unemployment in the country last week as the Covid-19 pandemic shut down large parts of America’s economy. The jobless figure is the highest ever reported, beating the previous record of 695,000 claims filed the week ending 2 October 1982.
Yes, Trump loves to blame China for the Coronavirus outbreak, especially in the topic of transparency. The president, together with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have been taking turns calling the Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus”, much to the displeasure of Beijing. In retaliation, China, who has won the war against the virus, blamed the U.S. for the outbreak.
On March 12, Lijian Zhao, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, posted a tweet saying – “It might be the US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan”. The theory that the U.S. brought the virus in China as a “biological weapon” came from an event in October 18-27 last year, during the 2019 Military World Games held in Wuhan, Hebei, China.
Chen Xuyan, a scientist based in Beijing, suggested that the incredible fast speed of research on Covid-19 vaccines in the U.S. could be attributed to the possibility that Washington had in its possession of the virus long before the outbreak in Wuhan, hence the possibility that the U.S. might have indeed sent and released the Coronavirus in China.
Despite Trump administration’s accusations, WHO (World Health Organization) have applauded China’s massive response to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus multiple times. The organization argued that it was the Chinese’ bold action of shutting down Wuhan that helped to prevent the virus from being exported to other places in China and the rest of the world.
In addition, Professor Yong-Zhen Zhang at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center in China published the virus’ genome on Jan 10 this year, unveiling its structure to the world for the first time. And thanks to the revelation and sharing, the first Covid-19 vaccine trial has already begun – just 60 days after China shared the genetic sequence of the contagious virus.
Of course, besides putting all the blames squarely on China to escape responsibility, Trump’s trade adviser – Peter Navarro – wanted to leverage on the pandemic to push a new “Buy America” executive order, a plan to reduce America reliance and dependency on Chinese-made pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies such as ventilators and masks.
Trump’s favourite accusation is that the Chinese should have told the Americans about the Coronavirus. A week ago, he said – “I wish they could have told us earlier about what was going on inside. We didn’t know about it until it started coming out publicly.” But on January 24, Trump praised China and President Xi Jinping for the country’s “efforts and transparency” in dealing with the pathogen.
New revelations have surfaced that it was Trump administration’s screw up that the U.S. was kept in the dark about the virus. Here’s what happened. Despite competing with each other politically and militarily, the U.S. and China actually have a very long relationship on matters of public health. And that includes allowing the U.S. to attach a public health official in its CDC.
For over 30 years, Altanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has its office in Beijing. Among its roles is to provide public health assistance to nations around the world and works with them to help stop outbreaks of contagious diseases from spreading globally. The Trump administration, however, cuts staff by more than two-thirds in China.
Documents show that since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the CDC’s China headcount has shrunk from 47 people to 14 staffs. Dr. Linda Quick, a medical epidemiologist embedded in China’s disease control agency, left her post in July 2019, several months before the Coronavirus outbreak began. Her position was eliminated by Trump administration.
Dr. Linda’s role was supposed to help detect disease outbreaks in China. She was the eyes and ears for not only the US, but also the rest of the world, on the Coronavirus outbreak and might have alerted them to the growing threat weeks earlier. After she left in July, no other foreign disease experts were assigned to lead the “US Field Epidemiology Training Program” in China.
Dr. Thomas R Frieden, a former director of the CDC, said if the US resident adviser – Dr. Linda Quick – had still been in China – “It is possible that we would know more today about how this Coronavirus is spreading and what works best to stop it.” Unfortunately, the trade war and growing tension between Trump administration and Beijing has affected even in the public health’s relationship.