OPINIONS Observer: US can't cure its underlying diseases by shifting blame

OPINIONS

Observer: US can't cure its underlying diseases by shifting blame

By Zhong Sheng | People's Daily app

22:12, August 11, 2021

The COVID-19 situation in the US is experiencing a new upsurge with daily new confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths rebounding. The daily average new confirmed cases last week exceeded 100,000.

However, US politicians are still busy stigmatizing, labeling and politicizing the virus, repeating the old trick of passing the buck. This not only shows their indifference to the lives of Americans lost to the pandemic but an utter blasphemy against facts, science and justice.

On Monday three Chinese think tanks released “‘America Ranked First’?! The Truth about America’s fight against COVID-19,” a report about the underlying causes of the US failure to contain the pandemic.

The US COVID-19 curve has never flattened but continued to rise. As of 6 pm EST on Sunday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in the country reached 35,757,980 and the death toll was 616,816, data from Johns Hopkins University shows.

The latest research of the University of Washington said as much as 60 percent of COVID-19 cases in the US went undetected as of March 7, 2021 due to major flaws in data sources, including biases in data capture and delayed reporting.

How could the US, which boasts the world’s most advanced medical technologies, most abundant medical resources and strongest medical care capacity, become the country hit hardest by the pandemic?

The reason behind the stark contrast is another kind of serious underlying diseases in American society: intensifying political polarization, a partisanship-plagued federal system and deep-rooted institutional flaws.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the two major political parties in the US have not been able to bridge their political differences, which has seriously encumbered the country’s fight against the pandemic.

Amid endless partisan struggles, the US missed the best time for pandemic prevention and control, affecting a range of aspects including testing, mask-wearing, home quarantining, vaccinations, distribution of strategic medical reserves and emergency relief bills.

Epidemic prevention and control policy became a bargaining chip mired in the politicized internal frictions of a country rife with disagreements between two parties at the federal, state and local levels, and between executive, legislative and judicial branches.

The federal government had not formulated a unified national strategy to protect people’s health even six months after the outbreak, according to James E. Clyburn, chairman of the House Select Committee on the coronavirus crisis.

“Chronic ills ‒ a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public ‒ had gone untreated for years,” according to “We Are Living in a Failed State,” an article published in The Atlantic.

Not only did the US fail at handling the pandemic at home, it also obstructed global anti-epidemic cooperation.

While other countries were jointly fighting the pandemic, the US pursued unilateralism, “vaccine nationalism” and practiced “origin tracing terrorism,” the Chinese think tanks reported. The US was “widely criticized” as the “country where the virus spread,” the “suspected source of the outbreak” and the “country where the global response to the virus has been devastated,” they said.

From November 2020 to January 2021, the average daily number of confirmed cases in the US exceeded 186,000. During the same period, the average daily number of US citizens traveling abroad reached 87,000. As a result of the outbound travel rush during the peak of the pandemic, imported cases from the US were reported in many countries.

Despite the opposition of the international community, the US disregarded international morality by massively deporting illegal immigrants, which worsened the pandemic situation in some developing countries.

The so-called “beacon of human rights” disappointed the international community by hoarding COVID-19 vaccines, restricting export of raw materials for the production of vaccines and widening the immunity gap between countries.

From calling the coronavirus the “China virus” to clamoring for so-called “accountability and compensation” from China, from hyping up the so-called “lab leak theory” to the notorious act of involving intelligence agencies in tracing the origin of COVID-19, US politicians fixed their eyes on their own interests and never shifted from politicizing the pandemic.

US scholar Graham Allison wrote that Washington political elites’ targeting of China was a way of avoiding responsibility for the failure to control the virus.

The US has turned the dangerous virus into “an international means of blackmail,” according to an article published on the website of the Russian television channel Tsargrad TV.

The US shouldn’t have been the country that failed to contain COVID-19. However, its chronic underlying diseases have made it unable to focus on fighting the pandemic, which is the root cause of its failed pandemic response.

Placing politics above science, private interests above people’s wellness and American hegemony above global anti-epidemic cooperation will neither help the US fight against the pandemic nor cure its underlying diseases.

As a new surge in COVID-19 infections rages across the US, it is time for Washington to correct its mistakes and make the right choice.

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