TNW, New Delhi, April 12. While the scientists across the world are struggling to develop a vaccine to combat COVID-19, they are upto another challenge: to come up with medicine to treat anyone suffering from the disease called China-phobia. At least one person is in the grip of this ailment that is the United States’ President Donald Trump. If not checked on time this virus is going to catch up fast among his supporters.
Till a few months back he has been calling COVID-19 as Chinese Virus or Wuhan Corona Virus. Throughout the period between early January and mid-March he has been engaged in tariff war with Beijing.
However, he softened his stand towards the second largest economy once the pandemic hit United States and started taking a huge toll. He started refraining from using these expressions.
On the other hand Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 27 rang up his US counterpart to offer help to the United States fight Corona Virus.
Trump was taken aback by this gesture. Not only China, even Russia, against whom too, the US had imposed certain sanctions, was quick to offer help to Trump.
So far so good. A week later Trump came under the second bout of China-phobia as he started accusing World Health Organisation of being Chinese-centric and threatened to stop donation to it. The US government is the largest donor to the WHO. Besides, NGOs like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are among the major donors.
Blaming the WHO for being biased towards China many of his supporters started calling WHO as Wuhan Health Organisation.
The truth is that sometimes back WHO had praised China for its measures taken to fight Corona Virus and most of the deaths remained confined to Wuhan or Hubei province, where the city is situated.
It may be that China is concealing the actual death toll which may be well over the official figure of 3,300. But it is also a fact that China, unlike Europe and the United States, succeeded in keeping this virus limited to one province. The number of cases and fatalities outside Hubei is very small. So it imposed total lockdown on Jan 23 only on Wuhan and maximum in Hubei province.
After the threat of the disease started receding President Xi visited Wuhan on March 10. By the last week of March Hubei was free from the lockdown. It was lifted from Wuhan on April 8. This was marked by celebration and the meat market from where the disease is suspected to have spread has been thrown open.
In contrast Corona Virus, which first reached the United States in the last week of January, started wreaking havoc in the second half of March. By April it reached almost all the nooks and corners of the country.
A nervous Trump, out of panic, started threatening India of retaliation if the latter does not supply Hydroxychloroquine to the United States. Then he trained his gun on WHO as the death toll crossed 10,000 and the number of those affected passed the figure of 5 lakh. It continues to rise further.
Instead of not taking timely action to check the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, Trump put all the blames on WHO. The mounting criticism against him weakened his prospect of winning election again in November. In his defense he started saying that in the initial days he wanted to keep the spirit of the people alive and didn’t want to create panic. He is also saying that he had taken all the measures to check the spread of COVID-19 in the US.
Whatever may be his argument his attack on WHO appears to be absurd and outlandish. The director general of WHO Tedros Adhanom countered Trump by saying, “We are close to all, we are colour blind.”
(Soroor Ahmad is a senior journalist based in Patna. He is author of ‘The Jewish Obsession’. The views are personal.)