Do some countries use coronavirus for political purposes? - EXCLUSIVE | Eurasia Diary -

16 July, Thursday

Do some countries use coronavirus for political purposes? - EXCLUSIVE

British journalist – “It can be used to shore up some regimes that are losing popularity”

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The Covid-19 pandemic is on the move of a freewheel mode. Some countries are going to lift quarantine regimes, where the economy is at the risk of downfall. As experts outline that it is a new period of transition of the situation from the worst to the worst. So, it means countries in the world are facing new challenges of fighting poverty same as they did struggle against the virus. 

Many experts think that the fall of economy after the coronavirus in some countries, accelerates political crisis. Over the past weeks, even news lines about the political games within the framework of the coronavirus surpassed the news of victims. 

Independent journalist, editor and broadcaster Neil Watson gave an exclusive interview to concerning the impact of the coronavirus on politics and society in the West.         

Dear Neil Watson, thank you for your time to give us interview. Lately analysts say in the western media that the Covid-19 has been tool for some political powers in the world. What could be the benefit of the coronavirus for their purposes? 

In my view, there is a great deal of political capital to be achieved by governments who are seen to have adopted successful policies towards overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic. It can be used to shore up a régime or government that is otherwise unpopular or losing popularity; likewise it can be used by nations to apparently prove their superiority when compared with rival countries. In the UK, the Conservative government achieved the implementation of the deeply-devisive Brexit policy earlier this year. This has almost completely been displaced from the public consciousness by the Covid-19 pandemic, which dominates the political agenda.

Another issue is that is an emergency situation and, like war, this justifies measures to be implemented that would otherwise be regarded as suspending civil liberties. The main impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been so-called ‘social distancing’. Populations around the world are not being permitted to move around and are being sequestered in their homes. They are solely reliant on the media, which is often state-run, for information. Furthermore, it provides an environment where the detainment of oppositional journalists , activists and politicians may be deliberately overlooked or underreported internally and internationally.

Earlier this week the UK media published articles about the coronavirus in the European Union, describing as there's no such thing as just 'following the science' – coronavirus advice is political. How would you assess this? 

Certainly, the approaches being adopted by the Covid-19 pandemic are political. Unlike most situations confronted by governments around the world, a pandemic of this nature is unprecedented in modern history and no government or health service could expect to be adequately prepared. 

The last comparable situation was the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918–20 which killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people as the nature of virus transmission was inadequately understood and very few universal national health services existed in the world. Thus, this is the first time that modern medical science and understanding have been applied to stem the tide of contagion and to treat the symptoms of the illness. This has been through a combination of isolation policies; personal protective equipment (PPE), made from the latest materials; and hospital intensive care equipment, including ventilators.

However, all these measures have two elements in common. They are very costly, either in terms of business impacts or the purchase of PPE or equipment and they have the potential to make or break a government. Hence, in the UK, Dominic Cummings, Chief Advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, sat in during meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), despite having no scientific qualifications or credentials. His role is solely to ensure that the economic impact of the pandemic is minimised, monies spent are optimised and that government uses the pandemic to its best advantage.

According to reliable sources from the National Institutes of Health, nearly 300 physicians die by suicide each year. It was somehow explained as coronavirus presents unusual mental health challenges for emergency physicians and their teams, especially following the suicidal case of Lorna Breen MD. What else reason could stand behind these facts?

It is undeniable that the suicide of Dr Breen is a tragedy of the highest order and should have been avoided, particularly in an age where mental health is at the forefront of public and political consciousness. All healthcare jobs are characterised by long hours, heightened stress and the necessity to make emotionally-charged decisions. However, Covid-19 presents a particularly unique strain for all healthcare professionals, not least due to the contagious and non-discriminatory nature of the virus. As Boris Johnson stated at the outset of the lockdown, the virus has the potential to overwhelm any healthcare system. In my understanding, Dr Breen had reached exhaustion; she had recovered from contracting the virus herself and was unable to complete another 12-hour shift. 

Furthermore, the high rates of contraction amongst healthcare professionals has resulted in many deaths and absences from work during recovery and self-isolation, placing additional strain on those who remain at work.

Do you think the world could be secure from the second wave of virus attacks such as, corona or other ones? 

It is imperative to ensure that a second wave of the pandemic is avoided. All nations are at varying stages of the cycle of contagion. Currently, each Covid-19 sufferer in the UK has the potential to infect 0.7 persons, whereas this was four persons a couple of weeks ago, this being mostly attributable to the isolation and social-distancing measures in place. 

However, it must be remembered that there is no vaccination against the virus. Although there are some pressures on government to relax the social distancing restrictions and to restart some elements of the economy, it is imperative that this temptation is avoided. It would be very easy for contagion to reach unprecedented levels and for health services around the world to buckle under the strain, with a massive loss of life.

It is impossible to completely negate the incidence of new pandemics and epidemics. However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the modern world is interconnected via air travel, industry and modern technology in a manner unparalleled in the history of humanity. Just as it is easy for a virus that emanated from China to engulf the entire world, the research organisations must undertake ongoing tests of all new illnesses and, once they have been identified, pool their knowledge and begin work to develop a vaccine which is used in every country. Only by adopting a worldwide holistic approach, surmounting ideological, religious and political boundaries, can such pandemics be avoided in the future. 

By Elnur Enveroglu 

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