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Tragic ignoring of science during pandemic: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2022-09-19 20:30
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Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) leave with a patient at Hialeah Hospital where the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients are treated, in Hialeah, Florida, US, July 29, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

In its report released on Wednesday, the Lancet COVID-19 Commission, drawing on more than two years of work from over 170 global experts, painted a lamentable picture of how many members of the world community failed to timely and effectively respond to the pandemic, resulting in "millions of preventable deaths".

"This staggering death toll is both a profound tragedy and a massive global failure on multiple levels," said the report.

The report highlights slow and cautious responses from governments, misinformation, unbalanced vaccine distribution and political rivalries between major countries as being contributing factors to the high death toll.

The findings of the commission deserve global attention as well as soul-searching reflection.

With countries bracing themselves for another pandemic winter, it is both valuable and critical that any past ineffectiveness and deficiencies are remedied so that the world can get this pandemic under control and be better prepared for the next one.

Of all the lessons to be learned, full recognition and true respect for science is essential. As the report correctly points out, several national leaders, former US president Donald Trump included, made highly irresponsible remarks in the first few months of the outbreak, "neglecting scientific evidence and needlessly risking lives with a view to keeping the economy open".

The ignoring of science has also enabled a political virus to flourish. Political manipulations over the pandemic from some Western countries in such forms as stigmatization of the virus, politicization of the origin-tracing efforts and hijacking global vaccine cooperation with geopolitical competition have also severely compromised global solidarity, hindering concerted action.

The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, which has been a direct result of the wilful denial of science, has not only brought immeasurable losses and untold sufferings to humankind but also dealt a heavy blow to the global economy. It has amplified and exacerbated geopolitical competition and increased inequality and injustice, not least in the allocation of global health resources, especially vaccine distribution.

Unless the lessons are learned, there is no guarantee that the world will fare any better when the next pandemic hits. Any political calculations that lead to inefficient responses to a pandemic are tantamount to assisting the spread of the pathogen and enabling it to wreak havoc.

Rather than displaying an indifference to suffering and ignoring responsibilities in favor of political point-scoring, governments must embrace international cooperation to ensure a concerted response to any future public health emergency.

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