China and the COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory

By HH Mohrmen

The story doing the rounds is that COVID-19 or the Novel Corona Virus is not natural but a well planned attack by China to weaken or cripple the economy of the opposing countries in particular and to disrupt the world order in general. Conspiracy theorists allege that it was part of a biological warfare that China has planned for a long time and this time has executed it to the tee. They were convinced that there was no doubt whatsoever that it was a well executed planned because of the simple reason that except for Wuhan which is in Hubei province, the rest of China was not affected or was partially affected by the pandemic.

Critics of China raise pertinent questions as to how China able to build a hospital dedicated to the virus in just two weeks if it was not pre-planned or that they have already expected that this was going to happen. Everything happened so fast and it looks like it was in a controlled situation. The allegation that China is doing this purposely does not stand on a strong foothold because till today no scientist has come up with any suggestion that this is not a virus which has evolved and transmitted from animals to human. There is no evidence that there is genetic manipulation or it was engineered or that the virus was made in a laboratory. In fact this is not the first time that the world is experiencing a pandemic which was caused by viruses jumping host species from animals to human.

The Journal Nature Medicine published a paper “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,”co-authored by Kristian Andersen, PhD, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research, Robert F. Garry, of Tulane University, and others states that Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging widely in severity. The first known severe illness caused by a coronavirus emerged with the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in Guangdong province of China.

The International Committee on Taxonomy of Virus call the virus which appeared in Wuhan, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2 the reason is because based on the genomic analysis it was found that this virus is related to the virus that cause the SARS outbreak in Guangdong China in 2003. A second outbreak of severe illness began in 2012 in Saudi Arabia with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the origin of SARS was traced to a Civet and MERS to a camel. Although scientists have not been able to conclude the source from which the virus is transmitted to human, but evidence available indicate that it was transmitted from bats to human and then human to human. The suggestion that it was a manufactured virus has been ruled out by those who study the virus because there is no evidence whatsoever which indicates that the virus was bio-engineered.

In fact even the Khasi Pnar traditional belief system has it that viruses or bacteria can transmit from plant, animals, water and air to humans. When we were kids we were instructed to be careful not to touch certain trees or shrubs because of the fear of getting the infection ‘ïoh khniang,’ but in the Khasi Pnar context it is mostly skin diseases. Young people were cautioned from going close to certain insects or even walk on water because of the fear of ‘ïoh khniang,’ so viruses or diseases being transmitted from animals and even plants to human is not new even to the Khasi Pnar.

The argument that the virus is China’s own making in its attempt to be the world’s economic super power does not hold water either, because China is already on the way to beat other countries in the race to become an economic superpower in almost all the parameters. Critics who question the ability to build a hospital within a short span of time need to educate themselves that prefabricated materials for building construction are already available online. And the very fact that the area already has sanitary arrangements like drainages in place, testify to the fact that unlike in India, cities in China are well planned.

China is already an economic power house with a well-built system which can take over or take control of both economic and knowledge leadership in the world. Its major companies are leading in development of new technologies like in the race to build 5G technology Huawei is much ahead than any company in the world. They are much ahead than any country in quantum computing and other new technology and the COVID – 19 pandemic has obviously showed that China’s foundation is strong and that it can bounce back very fast.

The Chinese success in tackling COVID – 19 pandemic is because of two things. One, it has a well oiled system in place which immediately responded to the challenge. Second, is the presence of a strong public health care system which makes the government and the people prepared for any eventuality. Add to that the fact that health care is accessible and at the individual level people are not panicking but following basic hygiene to the dot to fight the virus. The Corona Virus epidemic also proves how China has a well prepared disaster management system. Hence immediately after the epidemic was declared, healthcare workers from all over China were sent to the province and particularly to Wuhan to help strengthen the health care system in the area.

 It was not heard of that they grumbled about lack of ventilators, personal protective equipments or shortage of health professionals to deal with the outbreak.  Of course one can say that this is because the media is controlled by the Government hence correct information is kept under wraps but the fact that they have been able to open the city again in a short span of time is itself a remarkable achievement.  China is on its feet again and except for the fact that it still controls the entry of visitors from other countries, it is pretty much business as usual in that country.

Secondly it is the discipline of the people which has in fact become like second nature which is another major reason which has contributed to the country’s success in its fight against the virus. The public tow in-line with orders of the government and everybody stayed at home during the lockdown period. The lockdown was strictly enforced and not only that Wuhan and 15 other cities under Hubei province were shut. The government also used technology to track people’s movements. China has not only been able to contain the spread of the virus but it is not seeing corona virus case resurfacing either.

The question that one should ask is how prepared are we to tackle such eventuality should it happen now or in the future? The fundamental question that the government needs to make clear to the health care workers and to the public at large is whether we have enough PPEs and N95 masks to protect the people who are on the frontline? Studies show that health care workers in the early stage of COVID – 19 attacks in Italy and now in New York lost their lives simply because of the unavailability of these basic requirements.

From the Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui’s last press briefing it is clear that the government has only recently acquired two ventilators for both the East and West Jaiñtia hills. One ventilator for Jowai Civil Hospital and another for Khliehriat CHC but what are the numbers of existing ventilators that we have in these areas. In Jowai we may have few more ventilators in the Norman Tunnel Hospital of the KJP but that is all that we have. The government therefore cannot remain complacent but should work hard to build a strong health care system and a robust public health system to protect the citizens.

Rather than coming up with conspiracy theories about corona virus, we should instead learn from China how they had contained the spread of the virus and also to prevent the spread of any kind of disease in the future.

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