As a virus spreads across the globe we are learning some valuable lessons in pandemic science.
Although the COVID-19 virus indisputably originated within Red China, where it has reportedly taken some 3,400 lives, Italy has been the hardest hit of any country on earth taking 5,400 souls and rising. What accounts for this?
Italy took many more test samples than we have, but was slow to lockdown the whole country north to south. Critics can blame Italian politicians and a national character that bends rules, but that’s a dead-end exercise. When this is finally over, think tanks can spend a decade determining heroes, villains, and mistakes. But, if the Communist Party of China and the unsanitary treatment of animals in Chinese culture are not on their agenda, we shall be losing a golden opportunity.
Let me say that I have the deepest respect for the ingenuity and accomplishments of the Han Chinese, and their cuisine is one of my favorites. But when you tally the number of diseases that have emanated from China over the centuries, generally linked to animal-human contagion, our world cannot ignore this wellspring of pandemics. I realize the racist implications of singling out one people, but China’s culpability is a cultural failing not a racial or genetic one. How far must humanity descend towards mass death and economic collapse before discarding political correctness?
The China-Italy connection clearly led to Italy’s current catastrophe. The Lombardy region, the epicenter of Italy’s pandemic, does the most trade with Red China. Last January, some right-wing opposition politicians urged the current leftist government to quarantine Chinese-Italian children who were just returning from holiday in Red China. But Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who recently signed on to Red China’s One Belt One Road pan-economic scheme, declined the suggestion as fear-mongering. That same month, Italians hosted a Chinese delegation in Rome to encourage more exchanges.
However this virus came from Red China, it has taken advantage of Italian social vulnerabilities. Italy’s huge elderly population has much in common. Seventy percent of the dead have been men, perhaps because they smoked all their lives – a traditional vice that weakens the lungs. Another reason may have something to do with the mammoni factor – adult children still living with their parents, where they can infect the ones that gave them life. Or, as one Chinese Red Cross official observed, the Italian government just doesn’t enforce lockdowns efficiently – Communist style.
Hindsight now shows that Italian leaders did not lock down the whole nation fast enough, for fear of ruining tourism as well as the fragile economy. The U.S. and Europe are using Italy as the bad example. But they too once thought total lockdown unthinkable. Blaming leftist Prime Minister Conte or rightist President Trump for being ill-prepared, for slow reactions, and for shortages is easy from the sidelines. Like the medical workers who are on the frontline, political leaders are just as harried and inexperienced in dealing with this frightening new world.
Italian Americans like Dr. Anthony Fauci and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo are making us proud, as they shoulder the burden of leadership. In the case of Democrat Cuomo, he has put aside all partisan politics to demonstrate national unity. He has not only made peace with President Trump but has steered him into new initiatives like mobilizing the Army Corps of Engineers to build hospitals and obtaining a Navy hospital ship for Manhattan.
I recently read of Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s Assistant for Homeland Security. During the transition between Obama and Trump in 2016-17, Ms. Monaco (in photo) prepared a “war game” for the incoming administration based on a pandemic arriving in the U.S. This was three years ago! She tried. But, shall we play the blame game? Some folks still blame FDR for Pearl Harbor.
Will there be a cure for COVID-19? It was a team of Italic scientists led by Dr. Robert Gallo who found the inhibitors to control HIV in 1995. Italian doctor Carlo Urbani was the first to identify the Chinese-born SARS virus in 2003 – he died of it later.
Perhaps, our people will produce a hero to defeat this plague. -JLM