It is a downright shame that in this COVID-19 epidemic, a citizen cannot rely on their own government. At this point it feels like many countries are not being forthright about every single aspect of handling their local cases, the spreading of the virus, diagnosis, prevention, or handling and treatment of cases. It would be prudent to seek multiple sources of information to ascertain the situation, since each country seems to be problematic in a couple of aspects but not all.
My goal is not to make you distrust your government, but understand that each administration and governing body has their own agenda and ‘public image’ to maintain.
The good news is that in such a climate of mistrust, scientists are going out of their way to share data, and information to push research to its limit and hasten the possibility of a vaccine or a medication to manage symptoms.
I do not wish to cause panic. The aim in writing this article is, to decrease rumors, and the heavy reliance on a single authority. Below are just a few examples and some countries. There are many more egregious issues that are not addressed.
- China and its whistleblowers:
- When the coronavirus originally hit Wuhan territory in December 2019. The government and police took active steps to curb information. Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist from Wuhan, China, informed fellow medical staff on 30th December, 2019 and was immediately rebuked for spreading false information.
- On January 3rd, 2020. Dr. Wenliang was forced to sign a document stating that he was inciting fear and spreading wrong health information.
- On January 10th, 2020, he had similar symptoms as the cases he diagnosed as being similar to SARS in Dec.
- On February 7th, 2020. He died of the coronavirus, sparking a national grief for his sacrifice. His work and insistence of sharing information incited citizens of China to demand for free speech. Dr. Li Wenliang is now a national hero.
- It is now coming to light that the original cases showed symptoms December 12th, 2019. This means they contracted the virus earlier.
- Human to human transmission fears were frequently shut down, despite scientific evidence.
- Iran, the administration and lack of trust.
- Iranians are so distrustful of their government and prominent leaders that citizens are actually licking public gates and surfaces, and kissing each other, in defiance of their leadership. The common belief is that the leadership is instilling fear to control the public. Given the administration’s history, it is easy to understand why people feel this way.
- India, media’s elation over ‘immunity’
- India’s media seems to be catering to the government so much so that they have declared India to be uniquely immune to the coronavirus in comparison to its neighbor, China. A lot of people are believing that Indians are immune to the disease and won’t be affected and touting local herbs and spices as the main reason. People also feel safe due to India’s strict import rules against China.
- It is unfortunate as the country’s density of population is geared for an explosion of cases. It is foolish to declare immunity so early, specially when it is known that people can be carrying the virus may not know that they are infected, some people are asymptomatic despite the infection. Communal transfer is also a high possibility in India. In addition, going to the doctor for a ‘cold or cough’ is not deemed necessary
- United States, incompetency
- I don’t even know where to start on this. From saying that the United States is well-prepared to inadequate testing, bungled test kits, to the CDC stopping sharing information on latest total cases reported, there are many issues that the people of the United States face.
- Instead of appointing medical doctors and experts, the current President chose to appoint the Vice-President who has a proven record of bungling public health with HIV. The Vice-President was the then governor of Indiana and opposed several proven measures against HIV spread. After two months of ‘praying’, the ex-governor finally relented and gave in to traditional medicine and practices of decreasing spread of HIV. To add to the confusion, there was already a task force led by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
- The CDC released a traveler from Wuhan preemptively declaring them safe. The person was found later to have the disease.
- The Center for Disease Control (CDC) distributed ineffective, faulty, diagnostic tests to states. The CDC screwed up the testing kits that were sent to all states. Some states had kits that had bad reagents needed for a negative control for a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assay needed to determine whether a sample (person’s fluid) reacts positively. The kits were not bad because of wrong or inadequate information, the CDC screwed up. In layperson’s terms: the reagents reacted when it shouldn’t have. This issue was completely avoidable, and has nothing to do with ‘how new’ the virus is.
- As of March 1st, 2020, only 36 labs were cleared by the CDC to conduct the diagnostic.
- The President promised vaccines in a few months, despite health officials stating clearly that it would be next to impossible given a need for establishing safety and reliability statistics.
- Today, March 3, 2020, FDA authorities claimed to have 1 million tests ready for use by end of week. Many labs disagreed with the exaggerated numbers. It is estimated that given availability of current and immediate supplies (by end of week), there may be 10,000 to 20,000 tests. This is higher than the stifled testing that the CDC is currently allowing (only those with severe symptoms are tested, about 600 people were tested, compared to the thousands in other countries).
The above information might have been difficult to read and upsetting in nature. Please understand that I only wish to make the point that you should look at multiple sources of information to get a reasonable view of the situation, rather than sticking to one specific media or government center.