The weak response of western nations to COVID19 is costing millions of lives and the world economy.   

12 mins read

By Sertse Desta

China that started from scratch to bring down the deadly virus spread after it infected over 80 thousand of its citizens, has now clearly beaten the virus. On the other hand, countries where the virus landed months later and that had at least some information about the virus seem unable to control the spread of the virus and hence the consequences, including a large number of deaths.

It was so early when certain western countries apparently gave up deploying necessary actions and accepted the virus unbeatable. Germany, European economic power and advanced technology admitted that the virus could infect a minimum 70% of its 82 million inhabitants. Then we heard a similar passive response from the UK that even improved the percentage of its population to contract the virus by ten more percent than Germany amounting to 80% of Britons.  The virus is indeed highly contagious. But China, the country that faced the virus just novel, has shown the possibility to have control over the virus. The other nations would have learned from China and would have used the window time between when they first learned about the virus until it reached their country for preparation and could have had a better capacity to control. What happened actually is unbelievably surrendering to the virus.

The world economic power nation, the US awaited the virus with messed up conditions and confusing information. The president could not accept the warning from scholars who had predicted the seriousness of the virus until the virus infiltrated into the country at the community level and started to kill citizens. Even after the spread was already wild, there were so many confusing things we heard from the president, including the idea of re-opening business for Easter.  States look uncoordinated. Governors of states seem less responsive to the spread. Some of whom apparently look not following what is going in their province they lead and don’t follow about some critical information about the virus, let alone helping their people. It might be disturbing when a governor of a state tells the public he/she didn’t know that asymptomatic people could transfer the virus until just two days ago. Most states seem look just recipient big support from the federal government but nearly do nothing locally to help the community. The epicenter, New York, can be one of the examples. This state received all the support needed from the federal government, but one can hardly see what has been done by the state itself. While the New York area, it might be very confusing for those who remotely observe New Yorkers enjoying in streets and parks of the city with no protection wears just a few days ago. They look as if they were completely unaware of what is happening in their city. This seems to reflect the weakness of the local administration.  Later, when the president suggested quarantine of certain cities, those governors came out to oppose. Here, the president’s suggestion was realistic. Some states were hesitant to close events of a big gathering. We heard some Miami beach visitors preferring to contract the virus than missing their beach.  This entails that such visitor little understood the consequence of gathering at beaches this time. One may compare a suicide bomber vs people unaware of COVID19 who still think they should go to enjoy crowded areas like the Miami beach. Now, the president has admitted the seriousness of the problem and extended the emergency to April 30.

The western world allocated a very big resource that would have helped to have control over the virus in the entire world. The US alone has already released $2.2 trillion. It may continue to release more. I assume others also have put a big amount. Yet, we see no signal of slowing the spread of the virus and its consequences. Their approach seems hardly work to stop this virus. The soft “democratic” approach that leaves citizens to comply with guidelines and rules by themselves to handle the inevitable danger of COVID19 seems to cost not only the nations that adopted the approach but also the entire world.  The draconian measure and the tradition of the chines complying strictly to the rules and guidelines of the government enabled China to beat the virus after it infested over 80,000 people spreading all over the country, although the hotspot was Wuhan. Such unprecedented measures seem far to think in western nations that have people who think hanging out on streets, parks, and attending beach gatherings is their right during this emergency time that does not allow them to go out.  Think of my point comparing suicide bombers vs the beach event attendees at this time.   This must be time these nations to think far beyond what they think today.

The virus might be even more dangerous than what was expected. The data we see from China must be seen very carefully. We see a very low death rate in China compared to data coming from many countries. In Italy, the death and recovery rates differ  by a small margin.  In Spain death rate is nearly a third of the recovery. France,  the death is half of the recovery. In UK, the death rate right now is multiple times higher than the recovery. These countries have now spent more than a month since their first community transmition report.  Their data some how indicate how much the death rate might be higher than expected 3-5%.  Exceptionally, we see a lower death rate in Germany. This might be attributed to the health care system of the country and also the exceptional traditions of Germans complying to rules and regulations. Yet, recently we are observing more deaths from Germany as well. China reported slightly higher than three thousand deaths out of nearly 82 thousand cases. The UK that has less than 50 thousand cases, however, has already reported almost five thousand deaths. See also the data from France, Italy, and Spain against that of China. Yet, while China currently only ~1400 active cases, most of the cases in the European nations listed here are active.

What does this implicate? Is the data from China, right? Or Is China using a special treatment to save its patients, or are Chines resistant to the virus than the westerns? Last time I raised the potential of differential resistance level between East Asians and Europeans https://www.zehabesha.com/are-east-asians-resistant-to-covid19-is-this-virus-for-the-first-time-in-humans/.  Recently, I read (Cao et al. 2020) that talks possible differences in ACE2 receptor between the European and East Asians! ACE2 is reported to be the receptor of COVID19. But the paper seems to put the East Asians more susceptible than Europeans.  Yet, the paper does not conclude that.  Anyways, based on the data that we actually see, the death rate might be far more than the predicted 3-5%.

The other problem we observe in the western nation is the reluctance of using some measures that the Chines have been advising to since the beginning. Leaders and even professionals undermined the use of masks unless for those who show symptoms. It was just recently and flimsily they suggest all to use mask. Similarly, they have been reluctant to use some drugs that were reportedly used by the Chinese and showed positive effects in treating the disease. The reluctance to both the use of masks and drugs seems not without understanding their positive outcome, but it looks in fear of scarcity of these resources for others who need them more (eg. Masks for health care workers, drugs for other patients). The supply chain has been a bit unreliable even for other resources because of COVID19. The countries were not prepared though they had time since ever the news about the virus was heard from China.

Generally, unless the wester nations deploy unprecedented measures that restrict physical contacts of people and use all possible options that positively help to combat the disease, this disease likely claim many lives far from what was expected and result in heavy social and economic crises.  Vaccines and other covid19 targeted drugs seem at least months away. Hence, intensive application of currently available options is critical. The virus has continued to spread so fast. It is unthinkable to re-open business with the current situation. It is also unaffordable to live with the current situation for an extensively long time. It is crucial to launch a coordinated effort by all nations and provinces within nations to bring down this disease very quickly at all costs. As time runs, the virus is getting stronger, more lives will be lost, resources will be depleted, our capacity to combat the virus will be weakened.  This is time to act unprecedentedly.

May The Almighty God have mercy on us and the entire world! Amen!

ቅዱስ እግዚአብሔር ምህረቱን ለዓለም ሁሉ ይላክኢትዮጵያንና ሕዝቧን ይጠብቅአሜን!

Thank you!


Cao Y, Li L, Feng Z, Wan S, Huang P, Sun X, Wen F, Huang X, Ning G, Wang W (2020) Comparative genetic analysis of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV/SARS-CoV-2) receptor ACE2 in different populations. Cell Discovery 6:1-4


1 Comment

  1. The response in the west has been delayed but the death and infected figures from China are not reliable. The communist government in China does not allow free press and transparency.

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