Sadly, but not surprisingly, the virus crisis brought with it a pandemic of blaming and hate. Lately there has been much talk about China not being transparent and lying about the numbers as the pandemic raged. How can that possibly be a surprise given that China is a totalitarian state with a government that lies as it sees fit and will continue to do so? The whole system is a big lie. In battling the virus China suspended already limited human rights and civil liberties. This was all in the past. Talking about it now feeds the destructive blaming narrative taken by Trump which represents an abrogation of responsibility. The bottom line is that the actual numbers reported by China and the WHO, particularly from Hubei province, were very alarming and forewarned that a pandemic was coming.
The reality is that the pandemic is and will continue to be a great victory for China’s economy and prestige. The former, in contrast with much of the world, is booming and already running at about 65 – 70%. It is using its massive production capacity to make ventilators, test kits, and personal protection equipment to sell at large profit margins given the scarcity. It is acting as the Good Samaritan by sending help to devastated places like Italy and Spain. In contrast, the pictures from the US suggest a banana republic, not “the greatest nation of all”.
As is always the case, the greatest harm will be done to the poorest and most vulnerable. Poorer countries lack the resources to fight the virus. In the Philippines, hungry crowds are demonstrating for food thus further spreading the infection while the President issues an order to shoot those who are “misbehaving”. In Brazil, where the President’s actions have and will continue to cause a great many deaths, the greatest carnage will be in the favelas among the poor.
Before moving on to the numbers, please remember that they are all underestimates, but they vary widely in the degree to which they represent the unknown true number of cases.
The last two days brought the highest daily numbers for Canada in new infections and deaths. Not surprisingly, politicians like Toronto’s Mayor Tory sounded the alarm. Today, several governments will release a range of estimates for new cases and deaths. No one knows exactly what the future will bring as it depends entirely on the effectiveness of measures taken in the past 2 weeks or so and in the future. However, this is the right strategy as it offers both a stick and a carrot for continued compliance by demonstrating that what will happen will depend on what we have done and continue to do in response.
As before, the new infection rates for Canada, USA and UK continue to be similar yet reflect very different realities on the ground. Consider yesterday’s number of new deaths – 59, 968 and 569 respectively, with Brazil at 82. In countries where the new infections rate is slowly and stubbornly coming down, the numbers of new deaths on April 2 were 1355 for France, 961 for Spain, and 760 for Italy.
The Canadian contagion curve continues to be flat. This together with our coordinated response so far and a fairly well functioning civil society augurs well for the future. I think our actual outcome will be closer to the best possible than to the worst possible.
AP, April 3, 10 AM
Andrew Pakula is a long time peace activist and has been a member of Science for Peace from the very beginning. He is a retired social research and management consultant with a background in social psychology.