Global governments must start preparing for the next killer virus even though the world is still locked in a life and death struggle against Covid-19.
The warning came from the World Health Organization as the death toll from SARS-CoV-2 edged closer to one million with more than 29 million people infected across the planet.
“This will not be the last pandemic,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, told a media briefing in Geneva.
“History teaches us that outbreaks and pandemics are a fact of life. But when the next pandemic comes, the world must be ready – more ready than it was this time,” he added.
Ghebreyesus’ comments were probably still ringing in the ears of the Communist Party faithful that gathered in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday to honor China’s Covid-19 “heroes.”
During an hour-long speech, President Xi Jinping airbrushed history, claiming that his administration acted in an “open” and “transparent manner.”
His address was so “transparent” that he forgot to mention:
- The early cover-up in the city of Wuhan, which became the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak in January;
- The police harassment of whistleblower Li Wenliang, a Chinese doctor, who faced disciplinary action for “spreading rumors” about the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus;
- Or how he paid the ultimate price after contracting Covid-19 and dying in February.
Also missing from the script was how Beijing tried to block moves by member states at the WHO for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic.
“China had pushed back hard against such an inquiry, first proposed by Australia [in April], but eventually agreed after other countries signed on,” Adam Kamradt-Scott, of the University of Sydney, said.
“Even though the resolution was adopted, there are still many unanswered questions about what happens next, specifically, when and how an investigation will actually occur,” he wrote in a commentary for the academic website, The Conversation, in May.
Eulogy to the Party
Months later, the world is still waiting for answers to those questions. But, of course, Xi failed to point that out during his eulogy to the Party.
“China has helped save the lives of tens of millions of people around the world with its practical actions, showing China’s sincere desire to build a common future and community for humanity,” he said.
Let us hope that if the global community faces another pandemic, it does not start in China. The world has had enough of what Nineteen Eighty-Four author George Orwell called “Doublespeak” for at least a generation.