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Science, cooperation only path to ending America's COVID-19 tragedy

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-09-23 13:59
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[Luo Jie/China Daily]

COVID-19 has so far claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people in the United States. The loss of life isn't solely an American tragedy. It's a humanitarian disaster.

The 200,000 lost souls are more than triple the number of US soldiers killed in the Vietnam War and approximately equal to the whole population of the Salt Lake City, the most populous municipality in the US state of Utah.

The United States boasts a health system presumably the envy of the world. Yet it now has about one fifth of the world's confirmed coronavirus infections and deaths, despite being home to only 4.4 percent of the world's population.

So what happened? Washington's anti-science stance is one major cause for the catastrophe.

While the American public has been desperate for reliable guidance to pull through this unprecedented pandemic, they are getting increasingly lost after the nation's leaders launched a train of assaults on science and common sense.

The American people have seen some politicians in Washington and in other parts of the country downplaying the danger of the virus, peddling all sorts of jaw-dropping conspiracy theories, advising unauthorized drugs, and unconfirmed and life-threatening treatments, as well as refuting the suggestions of medical professionals while trying to shift blame.

"Trying to fight this pandemic while subverting scientific expertise is like fighting blindfolded," four chiefs, who have led the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 15 years, said in a narrative published on July 14 on the Washington Post website. "We cannot recall over our collective tenure a single time when political pressure led to a change in the interpretation of scientific evidence."

Moreover, Washington's anti-cooperation sentiment has not only undermined the world's collective efforts to beat the pathogen, but also will delay America's own victory over the virus.

In this age of globalization, no one is truly safe during a pandemic until everyone is safe, and COVID-19 illustrates how the United States has let the world down.

Since the start of the outbreak, the United States has contributed little, if anything, to the global fight against the virus.

Instead, the United States has been busy undercutting global cooperation in combatting the disease's spread. It smeared other countries over the origin of the pathogen, seized medical materials from allies, departed from the World Health Organization that is tasked with coordinating a global drive to manage the disease, and has been stoking a dangerous and divisive nationalism over a vaccine.

And while Iran and Venezuela are in the thick of the contagion, the current US administration, rather than showing some sense of empathy, has been churning out more smothering sanction proposals against those countries despite global oppositon and condemnation.

Alas, it seems that where there is destruction and disinformation, there is the United States.

When the international community is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution to encourage international cooperation in response to the ravaging outbreak and other challenging global crises facing humanity. Once again, the United States voted against it.

"At this point, we can start to see why the US foundered: a failure of leadership at many levels and across parties; a distrust of scientists, the media and expertise in general; and deeply ingrained cultural attitudes about individuality and how we value human lives have all combined to result in a horrifically inadequate pandemic response," Time magazine says in its issue marking the grim milestone.

Unless those in Washington stop misleading the country by rejecting science and upholding going-it-aloneism, then the United States is almost sure to hit more heartbreaking markers in infections and deaths.

Yet at the moment, decision-makers in the United States have yet to demonstrate a heartfelt remorse. Expect more such failures by the United States to come.

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