By Oluwaseun Fapetu Esq.
In 2002, the first human case of CoronaVirus was discovered in China, prior to this, it was only animals that were known to be susceptible to CoronaVirus. The resulting disease was called the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (called SARS-Cov or 2003 SAR), it was a highly communicable disease that symptomatic victim easily spread through bodily fluids to other people. Within a short time, it had spread to 29 countries, luckily however, the WHO was able to contain it before it could become a pandemic. It is therefore the prelude to this discuss on why Covid19, a much milder CoronaVirus became a pandemic without the WHO able to stop it from being one.
Firstly, it is pertinent to understand that though the 2003 CoronaVirus and 2019 one are both acute respiratory syndrome which target the lungs and cause flu-like symptoms and pneumatic infection making it difficult for a victim to breath easily. The differences however is that as explained above, 2003 SARS was much severe as it kills very fast and had a high mortality rate of 11%, Covid19 on the other hand is milder showing very mild symptoms or none most victims and with a comparatively low mortality rate of about 3.3%. However, the spread of Covid19 is far more virile than SAR of 2003, while the latter requires a symptomatic carrier to infect others, study has shown that carriers of the former do not need to be symptomatic to transmit it, thus, a presumably healthy person may be spreading it easily.
With it being clear that the spread rate is unprecedentedly high due to the peculiarities of the disease, why are we discussing the culpability of countries, it is easy to justify the spread in the making of the pandemic. The answer is however not that simple. Research shows that Covid19 started as early as November of 2019 and it was only declared a pandemic in March 2020, thus the spread was not so fast to justify the earlier assumption. This notion brings us to the core of the discuss, were countries responsible for the virus being a pandemic?
The virus started in Wuhan, a province in the republic of China, sometime in November 2019; however the virus got to the attention of the WHO in December 31, 2019 and didn’t make international news until the earlier part of January 2020. By that time, there was reported case in Thailand and some days after, Japan and the US also announced existence of the virus in their country and it became obvious that a looming crises was on our hands and it was probable that time was running against humanity already. This then begs the question, why was the WHO slow in discovering the existence of the virus so that measure can be put in place to swiftly contain it before it becomes a global problem. Here we discover there was the first culprit nation, China.
It should be crystal clear by now that there is no credible report or research that shows the Chinese government or national was involved in the creation or human transmission of the Covid19. With such rumour out of perspective, why is it then that China is seen as being culpable in the pandemic state of Covid19? The answer lies in the fact that the China government for reasons best known to them curtailed information from spreading about the virus. Medical practitione6r in Wuhan that raised concerns about the likelihood of a very infectious SAR-like disease were arrested, detained and warned to stop circulating timeous information that may have been humanity’s saving grace. In fact, this government went a step further to ensure the internet firewall censored out words indicative of the virus. This act caused a delay in the awareness of the disease, locally and internationally. This was responsible for the ravaging of Wuhan where an overwhelming percentage of the region became infected with the disease. It was also responsible for providing the index cases of the infection in many countries including Thailand, US, South Korea, UK, Iran, Japan and a host of others.
It is noteworthy however that, immediately it became news, the Chinese government took responsibility in containing the virus and they did an admirable work in reducing further spread of the disease, locally and internationally and as at present they have contained the virus in their country to some extent. Unfortunately, this was too little too late for the world at large, the disease had spread to some other countries who took the baton and did a better job at spreading it more than China. I will discuss briefly about 2 of the countries I believe were responsible in making the Covid19 a pandemic at the time it did.
The first of this country was the most suspected of all countries, Italy. The country was the first country after China that experience a very rapid transmission of infection within its borders and far more than China, the mortality rate was higher in Italy. Why then do I think Italy is culpable in making the virus, a pandemic, was it due to the fact that Italy was ravaged by the disease? The northern part of Italy first experience a widespread of the disease before the southern part synchronised into the wild progression of the virus.
The fact was that, the Italian government who were experiencing economic difficulty did not prepare for the containment of the virus and thus was caught unawares by the virus. This lead to the widespread of the disease across Italy and in turn many countries in the world. Travellers from Italy became the first index cases in many countries including Nigeria. Thus due to the widespread of the disease in the country and the absence of adequate testing then, the virus spread within and outside the country. This justifies the allegation that Italy was culpable in making Covid19 a pandemic.
The US was the fourth country where the disease was discovered, unlike the Italian Government, the US government made representation of being ready for the disease and there were so inference by the President on how mild the disease was as well as how it should be a top priority. The US initially reported little cases of the virus before it became public that the US was struggling to perform adequate test and the problem was more serious than it was projected. Within days, the numbers skyrocketed and it became obvious that the problem was raging while the President was waving it off. The absence of a good public healthcare system and the cost of testing the virus made the virus really spread. The US is currently the most affected country in terms of number of infected persons. The US is thus culpable in threefold, firstly the inadequacy of testing at the early stages of the virus in the US, the misinformation that was being passed by the government most especially the President and lastly the earlier failure of most states to take decisive measures in reducing the transmission of the disease. Unfortunately, many states have started reducing the measures they later put in place despite the continued surge of the virus in the country.
It should be noted that this article is a product of the opinion of the author and in no way form an authoritative report or fact but it should be borne in mind that, the opinion was based on verified facts and it is large extent an informed opinion. It is also pertinent to note that this article is not written to steer up hate or xenophobic behaviour but rather to contextualise the response of countries to this plague which has lead to the first pandemic in a very long time. It is also a call to clarion for individuals and government to be proactive in containing this pandemic as soon as possible