Opinion: Let science prevail in fight against twin pandemics
source: Xinhua net author: Xinhua Release: 2020-04-28 06:58
A statue of Siren is seen covered with a face mask in Warsaw, Poland, on April 20, 2020. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/Xinhua)
The world is combating two pandemics -- one against the pathogen, while the other is against the spread of false information, or what the international health body dubbed as an "infodemic."
BEIJING, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The novel coronavirus previously unknown to humans has caught the world flat-footed. Sadly, the dire situation has been exploited by some Western politicians to cook up disinformation for political gain at the expense of humankind's shared interests.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that the world is combating two pandemics -- one against the pathogen, while the other is against the spread of false information, or what the international health body dubbed as an "infodemic."
The topic of the virus's origin has prompted a batch of absurd conspiracy theories as some in the West have alleged that the virus is man-made in a laboratory.
In fact, the WHO has made it abundantly clear that the virus is not "manipulated or constructed" in a lab or somewhere else, and that all available evidence suggests it has an animal origin.
A COVID-19 patient is wheeled to an ambulance at an EHPAD (Housing Establishment for Dependant Elderly People) in Epinay sur Seine near Paris, France, on April 22, 2020.(Photo by Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua)
Adam Lauring, a virus expert and associate professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, while speaking to U.S. magazine Newsweek earlier this month, also explained that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has some key differences in specific genes relative to previously identified coronaviruses -- the ones a laboratory would be working with, saying that "This constellation of changes makes it unlikely that it is the result of a laboratory 'escape.'"
The "man-made virus" conspiracy is not the sole strain of the infovirus that misleads global public opinion. Since the outbreak, some U.S. politicians, with varying ulterior motives, have been exploiting the pandemic to stigmatize China, ignoring the fact that the country has been working closely with the international community in an open, transparent and responsible manner since the outbreak to share critical information, contain the spread of the virus, and develop effective treatment and vaccines.
At the moment, the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world. So far, more than 2.7 million people worldwide have been infected and over 190,000 people lost their lives because of the fatal disease, according to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University. The situation remains grim.
To defeat this common enemy of humanity, all countries must fight as one. Spreading disinformation can be more poisonous than the virus itself since it stokes panic and fear, and threatens urgently-needed global solidarity.
Wang Anming, a member of Chinese medical experts team, installs CT equipment in Baghdad, Iraq, April 12, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Miao)
That is why a group of 27 prominent public health scientists from outside China issued in February a co-signed statement in The Lancet and warned that "the rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumors and misinformation around its origins."
"We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin," said the scientists.
When the Black Death raged across Europe, science at that time was not strong enough to explain why, thus arose a myriad of myths. Some suggested that the plague was caused by the movement of the stars up in the sky, while others argued that earthquakes deep in the ground were the culprits.
Those theories look utterly ridiculous in today's world where science is in a much stronger position to help the human race better understand lethal microbes. Still, the specter of rumors and disinformation continues to rear its ugly head.
In order not to be ridiculed by future generations for being preposterous over basic scientific questions, and to navigate through the rough waters of the pandemic, countries around the world should join hands and let science and common sense prevail.