Trac­ing the roots of Sars-CoV-2

In­dia is right in sup­port­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. WHO re­form should be next

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - COMMENT -

The Aus­tralian draft res­o­lu­tion at the World Health Assem­bly call­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the sources of the virus is nec­es­sary, and In­dia has rightly sup­ported it. China’s de­ci­sion to treat this as an un­friendly act has given the res­o­lu­tion a po­lit­i­cal hue. It has also drawn at­ten­tion to China’s ab­surd re­fusal to not al­low the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) or any in­ter­na­tional sci­en­tific team to study ground zero of the out­break. Given the de­struc­tion the virus has wrought, Bei­jing could only have im­proved its battered im­age by al­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The United States, which sees Covid-19 through the prism of great power ri­valry, did not join in be­cause China was not di­rectly men­tioned.

Hav­ing a global sci­en­tific in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of a pan­demic should have been a rou­tine af­fair. That it has now be­come a geopo­lit­i­cal bat­tle­ground is a sign that the in­ter­na­tional health sys­tem, par­tic­u­larly WHO, needs re­form. Though a United Na­tions agency, it was un­usual in be­ing funded and di­rected by non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions. This is why it proved so in­ept at nav­i­gat­ing global pol­i­tics or re­ject­ing the un­rea­son­able de­mands of Bei­jing. Mem­ber-states should lay the ground for a larger de­bate on how WHO should be over­hauled. The world can’t af­ford an­other pan­demic, and this should be the over­rid­ing thought of all coun­tries, in­clud­ing China.

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