OPINIONS Observer: Solidarity, cooperation the right way to deal with COVID-19

OPINIONS

Observer: Solidarity, cooperation the right way to deal with COVID-19

By Zhong Sheng | People's Daily app

19:35, July 10, 2020

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The threats made by some US politicians to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) in the previous months finally turned real.

US officials confirmed on Monday the White House submitted to the United Nations (UN) its notice to quit the UN health body by July 2021. The move coincided with an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases in the US in recent weeks.

The US is acting like a deserter in the battle, and standing against global anti-pandemic cooperation. Such irresponsible and hegemonic unilateralism is a total disgrace.

As seen by all, some US politicians are inclined to distract public attention away from their disastrous handling of the pandemic by scapegoating the WHO.

When the White House announced to defund WHO, it triggered widespread concerns. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed it was time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences. Guterres said the WHO must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19.

An American expert pointed out that the disaster in the US was not caused by the WHO, but the White House's consistent ignorance of WHO's warnings. A commentary in the New York Times called the US move a dangerous attempt to find a scapegoat for its own failings. "It is like taking away a fire department’s trucks in the middle of a blaze," the article said.

However, some US politicians are still going their own way. On May 18, the White House threatened to quit the WHO if the organization "does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days." Eleven days later, it terminated ties with the UN health body.

If the US government took more time listening to the WHO, rather than trying to destroy it, then tens of thousands of Americans would have been saved today - that is the wish of US citizens. However, such a voice was never heard by US politicians who are seeking only private interests, disregarding both the lives and health of Americans, and the public health security of the world.

Standing at the center of global public health cooperation, the WHO plays a key role in early warning, coordinating response strategies, sharing treatment plans and organizing international assistance when emergent infectious diseases break out. Faced with the sudden COVID-19 epidemic, the WHO, by starting multiple labs, establishing a global testing network, enhancing global diagnosis capabilities, improving the monitoring of virus origins, and accelerating vaccine development, has built a joint force in the international community to fight the disease.

Solidarity and cooperation are necessary to tackle the current challenge that threatens the health of mankind. While the global community is stressing solidarity, some US politicians are debilitating the WHO.

WHO is the only body capable of leading and coordinating the global response to COVID-19, said UN Foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Cousens, calling the US withdrawal "short-sighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous.”

Viruses respect no borders. Five months into the pandemic, the total cases topped 3 million in the US, with no sign of slowing down. Data indicates that many states in the west and the south have continuously seen new highs in infections, and the COVID-19 curve is drastically rising in the country.

US public opinion believes the blind optimism of the White House is creating a COVID-19 nightmare, and its attacks on the WHO will finally hurt itself. Many American public health experts are worried that the short-sighted practices of the US will not only disturb the clinical trials crucial for vaccine development, but also lead to unpreparedness of the country for possible future pandemics.

Anyone with a conscience knows which to choose between saving lives and ducking responsibilities, as well as between solidarity and making trouble. However, some US politicians are just going against justice, which fully exposed their immoral nature.

Solidarity and cooperation remain the right way to deal with the pandemic. The WHO recently urged relevant countries to "wake up" and face up squarely to the pandemic. It indicated that the international society hopes the US can stay sober and rational, and take practical measures to prevent the disease.

It's urgent to build a global line of defense to safeguard the lives and health of the people. Only by mutual assistance and joint cooperation can we achieve the final victory over the major public health crisis.

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