A Message Sent to Other Worlds Will Say “It Was Just the Flu”

 

Are the leader’s statements, tweets, comments, and understatements just a way to cover and twist the truth, so that real causes will be blurred behind? Do decision-makers drown us into the political jargon of reality? Do they guide and even politically pressure the experts to tell the things leaders want to us hear so that their unmanageable issues are not revealed? Have we learned anything about the past? We have to prepare, prepare, and prepare against unknown and unwanted threats.

Preparedness is no sexy and nor an easy topic for leaders. It requires a lot of financial investment and resources. Political leaders are not willing to do so, because it takes away the votes of the voters from them. They act as citizens’ leaders but they forget the most important tasks – truth, prepadness, and the protection of citizens. Now they act as tough leaders when the sh** hits the fan.

Destruction of wildlife and the climate crisis is hurting humanity, with Covid-19 a ‘clear warning shot’, say experts.

Carrington, Damian. 2020. The Guardian. Coronavirus: ‘Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief.
Consulted on 30.6.2020

Austerity blunted the ambition and commitment of government to protect its people. The political objective was to diminish the size and role of the state. The result was to leave the country fatally weakened. Whatever the reasons for failing to act upon the lessons of Sars and influenza simulations, the fact remained, as Ian Boyd, a former chief scientific adviser to the UK government between 2012 and 2019, summed it up, “we were poorly prepared”. The global response to Sars-CoV-2 is the greatest science policy failure in a generation. The signals were clear. Major human epidemics were all caused by viruses that originated in animal hosts and crossed over into humans. Covid-19 is caused by a new variant of the same coronavirus that caused Sars.

That the warning signs went unheeded is unsurprising. Few of us have experienced a pandemic, and we are all guilty of ignoring information that doesn’t reflect our own experience of the world. Catastrophes reveal the weakness of human memory. How can one plan for a random rare event – surely the sacrifices will be too great? The first duty of government is to protect its citizens. The risks of a pandemic can be measured and quantified. During a crisis, the public and politicians alike understandably turn to experts. But on this occasion, the experts – scientists who have modelled and simulated our possible futures – made assumptions that turned out to be mistaken. The UK imagined the pandemic would be much like influenza.

Horton, Richard. 2020. The guardian, Coronavirus is the greatest global science policy failure in a generation. 09. 05
Consulted on 11.8.2020

It would seem that a swift and firm response has saved lives. The coronavirus has spread to all continents in just a couple of months. However, the rate of spread has not been steady. In the United States and Europe, the epidemic has grown rapidly, while China and many of its neighbors have suppressed the disease – at least for now.

The United States has starter the retaliation measures slowly, and the virus is spreading there faster than anywhere else. The United States has quickly become the number one corona-country in the global. The U.S. authorities responded slowly to the progression of the epidemic. Infections could only be tested in practice after the disease had spread for more than a month.  U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed the epidemic for a long time, but recommended gathering restrictions in mid-March. The states are responsible for practical decisions, which means that there are very different levels of movement and assembly restrictions across the country.

Yle. 2020. Yle, Miten koronaepidemia hidastetaan? Näin aasia onnistui ja Yhdysvallat ja Eurooppa mokasivat. 31. 03.
Consulted on 11.8.2020

Mistakes and missed opportunities have followed U.S. action from the beginning. Authorities admitted their failure. When the country should have prepared to hit the pandemic, it focused elsewhere. The country’s public health service was not ready for such a disease.

In mid-March, however, something changed. The administration had now woken up to the fact that the United States was not safe from a global pandemic. Many states declared emergencies and announced quarantine measures. The President Trump declared a national emergency. About $ 50 billion in federal money was set aside to fight the epidemic. Congress began preparing a $ 2 trillion economic stimulus package. Trump has since closed the country’s borders, and state governors have shut down schools, jobs, and restaurants. Gatherings are prohibited and events canceled. Cruisers stay in ports. Much of the aircraft remain on the ground. At least 160 million people have been ordered to stay at home. Trump said that stagnating the economy will take people’s lives. Human lives and jobs are at odds now.

Kantola, Anne. 2020. Helsingin Sanomat, Yhdysvalloissa on nyt eniten koronavirustartuntoja maailmassa – miten maa luisui virhe kerralaan tähän pisteeseen? 27. 03
Consulted on 11.8.2020

In China’s neighborhood, retaliation measures were launched very quickly and the epidemic has remained under control, at least for the time being. All three regions (China, Singapore, Hong Kong) went through the 2003 SARS epidemic. So, they didn’t keep up when news of the new viral disease spread. The fever of tourists arriving from the epidemic areas started to be measured as early as the turn of the year 2020, and quarantines were imposed on immigrants. The movements of infected people have been monitored using mobile phone data and security cameras, among other things. Patients and their contacts were isolated.

China also stopped the epidemic by hard means. At the beginning of the epidemic it did not look promising. When the coronavirus began to spread in Wuhan, China at the turn of the year 2019, local authorities covered up the cases. For example, a doctor who warned of a new disease was arrested. When China finally began to operate, it severely isolated Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province. At its broadest, restrictions on movement affected the lives of 700 million Chinese. Like other Asian countries, China has tracked the movements and contacts of those infected. China has a very extensive control mechanism that guards its citizens even under normal circumstances. It is not yet known how well China will be able to control the epidemic.

Yle Robinson, Doreen. 2020. UN Enviroment, Coronaviruses: Are they here to stay?
Consulted on 2.7.2020

China, by contrast, was scarred by its experience of Sars. When the government realised that a new virus was circulating, Chinese officials didn’t advise hand washing, a better cough etiquette and disposing of tissues. They quarantined entire cities and shut down the economy. As one former secretary of state for health in England put it to me (Richard Horton), our scientists suffered from a “cognitive bias” towards the milder threat of influenza.

Horton, Richard. 2020. The guardian, Coronavirus is the greatest global science policy failure in a generation. 09. 05
Consulted on 11.8.2020

In Brazil the economy over health and politics is bigger than pandemic. The President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the virus. Early on in the crisis, he went on TV several times, calling it a little flu and accusing the media of hysteria. His message has remained the same throughout – that the state governors have been reckless in introducing quarantine measures and the collateral damage to the economy will be worse than the effects of the virus itself. At times, these past few months, the politics has been bigger than the pandemic. That is not to say the health crisis is less important, but the magnitude of the political scandals is so huge and the implications so important for Brazil.

Watson, Katy. 2020. BBC, Coronavirys: How pandemic turned political in Brazil. 12.
Consulted on 10.8.2020

Brazil’s chaotic response has deepened political polarization among supporters and critics of the president. Hospital systems have largely coped with the crush of patients, but the virus has taken a devastating toll on health care workers. In the deeply unequal country, some groups have been hit worse than others. Poor Brazilians who get sick are less likely to receive high quality health care. The death rate in poorer cities has been substantially higher than the rate in rich ones.

Andreoni, Munuela. 2020. New York Times, Coronavirys in Brazil: What You Need to Know. 03. 08.
Consulted on 10.8.2020

The Trump administration sent a letter giving the United Nations a one-year notice for the U.S. to quit the World Health Organization, formalizing President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the agency even as the coronavirus rages out of control in the U.S. The letter was sent more than a month after Trump announced on May 29 that the U.S. would leave the WHO because of what he said was its undue deference to China and failure to provide accurate information about the coronavirus. Critics have said the move is aimed at distracting from the U.S. administration’s failure to control the virus and that leaving the agency now could cost lives. In the meantime, coronavirus cases have spiked in the U.S. even as they have gone down in other parts of the world including China and the European Union.

Nick Wadhams, Jennifer Jacobs, David Wainer. 2020. Bloombers, U.S Starts one-year clock to quit world health organization. 07. 07.
Consulted on 10.8.2020

Hackers backed by the Russian state are trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research from academic and pharmaceutical institutions around the world, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said. British foreign minister Dominic Raab said it was “completely unacceptable” for Russian intelligence services to target work on the pandemic.  “While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behaviour, the UK and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health,” he said in a statement. He said Britain would work with allies to hold perpetrators to account.

William James, Steve Scherer. 2020. Reuters. 16. 07.
Consulted on 10.8.2020

An early lockdown, tough border restrictions, effective health messaging and an aggressive test-and-trace programme have all been credited with virtually eliminating the virus in the country.

”BBC.” Coronavirus: New Zealand marks 100 days without community spread. 09. 08
Consulted on 10.8.2020

What is the truth? Who tells the truth? Does money tell us what is true?

If money is the truth and religion, why hasn’t it been used to prepare and protect citizens and nations? If the new normal starts to be even worse, there won’t be any more nations and neither leaders and money… Are freedom of speech and truth, the first victims in a state of emergency?

The views and opinions expressed in Environics Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Environics Oy. Any content provided by the authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, neither they serve as a scientific statement.

Author

Toni Leikas

Training Manager

I am Toni, a CBRN professional with approximatelly 20-year experience in training and educating Security and CBRN matters. I have trained operators from over 50 different nationalities, from a wide range of occupational areas from First Responders to Scientists.

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