Led by Peter Ben Embarek, a team of 10 investigators has traveled to Wuhan, China, to interview experts from various research institutes, hospitals and even the so-called “wet market” associated with the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus epidemic, now known as COVID-19. First undergoing a two-week quarantine, the team seeks to “…get a full understanding of what happened,” stated Mr. Ben Embarek. Seeking to identify the animal origins or SARS-CoV-2, the team ran into some challenges. For example, the Chinese government wasn’t keen on the investigation as it seems to want to look to the future as opposed to in the rearview mirror. Given the growing national tensions and the use of the term “China Virus” by outgoing POTUS, the government there didn’t want more scrutiny. But with mounting worldwide pressure for an answer in the hopes of preventing something similar in the future, the WHO scientists did manage to convince the government to support the endeavor. The head of the effort keeps an open mind—no theories are off the table, reports the BBC. In China’s Response to COVID-19, The Good, Bad and Ugly, TrialSite shared some of the real challenges associated with Chinese censorship associated with the pandemic’s onset. And not surprisingly, the BBC reports government propaganda now intensifies just as the visitors arrived. For example, some sources in China raise the question of whether SARS-CoV-2 started there in the first place. The world knows better.
That’s right. At least some media campaigns in China raise the specter that the pandemic started elsewhere: maybe Italy, Spain or even America. Of course, this is ludicrous given what has been documented since the beginning of the pandemic; thankfully, censorship remains minimal in the West despite a disturbing trend among various Western social media to monitor and censor certain content.
Initially denied entry, China’s government ultimately gave the green light. WHO’s chair of global outbreak and response, Professor Dale Fisher reported to the BBC that this is a scientific visit, not one driven by politics. Although some, considered paranoid souls, in the West, think China developed the pathogen in a lab, and an accident inadvertently led to its escape and the ensuring pandemic; the overwhelming consensus among the world’s best scientists is that SARS-CoV-2 is a naturally occurring virus that probably came from a bat and somehow got transferred to an animal that exposed humans. But truthfully, no one knows for absolutely sure, hence Mr. Embarek’s “open mind.”
China’s Approach Considered Draconian in the West
TrialSite reports it conducted a number of interviews with contacts in China. As the BBC has reported, although COVID-19 surfaces from time to time and a new death was reported in Hebei province, the country continues to control outbreaks with what those in the West would consider unacceptable, strong-arm government measures that impede on civil liberties.
For example, authorities at the national, provincial, and local levels have employed a combination of unprecedented, targeted and mass testing, severe lockdowns, and tough travel restrictions. In a common scenario, when the coronavirus is detected, authorities are empowered to lock down an entire village, town or even a city. Everyone in that community must then be tested and quarantined until the threat passes. Underlying government power there is unprecedented digital monitoring powers via contact tracing measures, enabled by the country’s telecommunication and smartphone device sector. At least a few people told TrialSite Network members that the government knows who has COVID via contact tracing software on the smartphone.
The Wall Street Journal just published a piece on this where government-imposed lockdowns with the resurfacing of COVID-19. They report that over 20 million people have been quarantined just in the weeks prior to the nation’s biggest holiday.
That’s why the pandemic has been far worse in nations such as the United States, where personal liberty and the freedom to move about is far greater than as is the case in centralized, communist-controlled countries, for example. Sociopolitical and cultural differences impact responses to pandemics.
TrialSite will monitor the news organizations and any relevant or compelling updates should our readers seek this kind of information.