Global Efforts to Combat the Global Challenge of COVID-19

Prof. Yu Xinli & Cai Chunyang
 April 5, 2020


Image Courtesy: John Hopkins University

If one looks at the map of the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Centre for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University (JHU), on 27 March 2020, one will get a clear picture of how big of a global challenge humankind is facing.

Two months ago, the Chinese government had made a prompt and hard decision to impose a nationwide lockdown. During this hard time, China has made significant progress, and has made enormous sacrifices in the fight against COVID-19 and bought precious time for the world. COVID-19 attack is somehow like buckets effect. The whole world facing the virus could be described as a ‘bucket effect’; if there is a short slab, the bucket will leak. This pandemic is genuinely a global challenge for the whole humankind, making unity, cooperation and coordination within the international community extremely necessary.

Doctors and scientists, who are at the front-line combating COVID-19, should share their experiences. During the last two months, traditional Chinese medicine treatment has proved very effective. As we all know, traditional Indian medicine has played a significant part in human history. Furthermore, a famous Chinese historian Chen Yinque (陈寅恪) found some clues to prove that the most well-known Chinese ancient doctor Hua Tuo(华佗)was an Indian. If the doctors and scientists from the Western countries, China and India could work together, it surely will be the strongest fight against COVID-19 for the world.

Misnaming things and racial discrimination is not the way to solve the problem that is affecting the world in unprecedented ways. As an article in the New York Times commented on March 23, 2020, “We’ve been down this road before, too many times. In the 14th century, the Black Death provoked mass violence against Jews, Catalans, clerics and beggars; when syphilis spread in the 15th century, it was variously called the Neapolitan, French, Polish and German disease, depending on who was pointing the blame; when the plague struck Honolulu in 1899, officials burned down Chinatown and so on. During our times too, epidemics like Ebola, SARS and Zika have fueled animus toward specific regions or peoples. As the coronavirus has spread from Wuhan, China, prejudice against anti-Asians have spread with it. Feelings of ‘Yellow Peril’ – leading to canards that led to the lynching of Chinese in the 1870s who were hurled with stereotypes about Chinese being “dirty and decrepit” – need to be left behind. Certainly, the world can do better in 2020 by letting go of their prejudices to fight the ongoing epidemic.

Not long ago, we could still meet friends, have parties, travel anywhere we liked, but since December 2019, the outbreak of the virus called COVID-19, has been changing our lives, in ways that were unimaginable before. People put their palms together in ‘Namaste’ devoutly, instead of shaking hands when meeting and greeting each other. Human beings are aware of the COVID-19 Sarc-Cov2 virus, which can be not be seen by our own eyes but can make us ill or even dead, and it spreads rapidly. Research has proven that the virus has mutated 40 times, making it that much harder to fight and end. Little certainty has emerged still on how much harm COVID-19 will do to human beings and therefore, we call it a global challenge. A global challenge like the COVID-19 calls for global efforts in combating COVID-19.

At this very moment, the virus is strengthening its hold outside China across the globe, making us realize that the whole humankind shares a common future. Its is worth recalling what the President of Harvard University, Lawrence S. Bacow, who was also confirmed infected with the virus some days ago said,

“No one knows what will face in the weeks ahead, but everyone knows enough to understand that COVID-19 will test our capacities to be kind and generous, and to see beyond ourselves and our own interests. Our task now is to bring the best of who we are and what we do to a world that is more complex and more confused than any of us would like it to be. May we all proceed with wisdom and grace.”

Finally, we should also remember what the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out:
“Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19. The virus does not care about ethnicity or nationality, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly. Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world. The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price. They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19. Let’s not forget that in war-ravaged countries, health systems have collapsed. Health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted. Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable. The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives. To warring parties, I say: Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes. This is crucial … To help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy. To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. ”

*** Prof. Yu Xinli is the director at China-India People to People Exchange Center, Yunnan Minzu University, China. Cai Chunyang is  a research scholar at the Yunnan University, China ***