EDITORIAL: Lessons learned from the pandemic

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The World Health Organization recently warned COVID-19 is “not necessarily the big one” compared to future pandemics that could be both highly contagious and highly deadly.

“This is a wake-up call,” said Mike Ryan, the WHO’s head of emergencies. “These threats will continue. If there is one thing we need to take from this pandemic, with all of the tragedy and loss … we need to get our act together.”

Indeed, and since it’s possible “the big one” will come out of China, again, as did the SARS epidemic in 2003, we need to learn that China’s dictators cannot be trusted with being open and transparent when and if it happens again.

Just as they weren’t with SARS and COVID-19.

Ryan’s warning could apply to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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Tedros was China’s chief cheerleader and defender as the virus spread globally, gushingly praising President Xi Jinping.

This while China’s government was arresting and threatening doctors in Wuhan, who were telling the world the truth — that what we now call COVID-19 was capable of human transmission, weeks before China admitted it.


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We also now know that while Tedros was praising China for its openness, WHO scientific advisors were privately complaining that while China had released COVID-19’s gene sequencing data, other important information was slow in coming.

Tedros’ praise for China was mirrored in Canada, by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, a WHO advisor, and Health Minister Patty Hajdu.

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Hajdu continued to cheerlead for China — even garnering praise from its government for opposing travel bans — long after its suspect data on the number of people infected and dying should have raised alarm bells.

This trusting attitude carried over into federal policy which, in retrospect, we now know was too little, too late.

Tedros, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Hajdu have been more critical of China lately, but still, too little, too late.

Finally, to be crystal clear, lest anyone raises false allegations of racism, these criticisms have nothing to do with the people of China, or Canadians of Chinese origin, who have suffered because of COVID-19 along with the rest of the world.

This is about learning the lesson of applying skepticism to what China’s dictators claim.

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