COVID-19 conspiracy or accident is a debate we must have

Global politics of COVID-19- conspiracy or accident?

Is India facing a second COVID-19 wave?

With the figures of infections and deaths caused by COVID-19 the world over, in the US, India, compared with China, one wonders whether the COVID-19 pandemic was accidental or the result of a studied conspiracy.

While India, one of the first countries to develop the vaccine and again among the first to start vaccinating its population, achieved a huge milestone by crossing 3-crore vaccine dose delivery mark, continuous rise in new cases in five of its affluent states has caused concern for the Modi government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called a meeting to review the vaccination progress after seeing the daily number of infections in five states – Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu – hitting 26, 291, a 85-day high mark.

India now has 2.19 million active case Maharashtra alone accounting for over 58 pc of those cases. Adding to Maharashtra, the number of active cases in Kerala and Punjab we get 77 pc of all active cases nationally.

Of the 26, 291 new cases, Maharashtra alone recorded 16,620 (63.21% of the total new infections in a day) while Kerala and Punjab recorded 1,792 and 1,492 respectively.

Why it is worrisome? Because India’s active cases number which now has risen to 2.19 million, had actually fallen to 1.3 million on February 11. In less than a month, that shows a growth of over 0.8 million, despite India nearly meeting all of its vaccination strategy targets as it progresses to vaccinate the entire population.

Indian scientists and experts warn that this surge is the result of lack of COVID appropriate behaviour; laxity in testing, tracking, treating; inability of states to follow up negative antigen reports with the gold standard RTPCR tests resulting in missing cases; congregations and super spreading events; school reopening without mitigation.

Mutants have not been found to be behind the surge, said ICMR. Member, Health, NITI Aayog VK Paul said, “We need to be afraid of the virus. It can be very unpredictable.”

Australia has had its own battles with COVID-19 control measures, although it is done exceptionally well when it comes to government’s actions to control the virus and safeguard its population. Australia today has only 3,644 active cases and 909 Australians have died of the virus.  A total of 29,130 Australians contracted the virus and 25,486 recovered of it. But it has come at a huge economic cost to the economy which Australians would be paying for – for decades to come.

If the economic cost is put aside, compared to the US, Australia has done gloriously well. See the table for a comparison.

CountryInfectionsDeaths
Global120,176,3642,6,59,578
US29,490,682535,584
Brazil11,519,609279,286
India11,385,339158,725
China101,4084,839
Australia29,130909

Source: Johns Hopkins University

But it is intriguing to see the numbers for China. One would struggle to believe the numbers which seem most definitely fudged. China has recorded a total of just over 100,000 infections and just over 4 thousand deaths? Again see the table for a comparison.

No wonder there are people pointing a finger at China.

“The very simple data elements on the ground all point to the likelihood that this virus came from a lab,” Dr Jonathan Latham, the executive director of the Bioscience Resource Project in New York, told Channel 9’s Under Investigation.

Former President of the United States Donald Trump had publicly claimed of seeing some report that the virus had come from China’s lab and called it ” China virus” , also calling it “Kung flu”. That led direct support to the suggestions of COVID-19 conspiracy.

Addressing the media back in April 2020, Mr Trump had also pointed a finger at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (mentioned in the Channel 9 program), saying he was “not allowed” to say what his evidence was.

Mr Trump had criticised China’s response to the pandemic saying the Chinese were either too incompetent to stop it getting out “or they let it out“.

Clearly add to what some call a conspiracy theory of blaming China, Mr Trump cited the fact that China had stopping all incoming flights to China but continued outgoing flights to the rest of the world, suggesting that is how the whole world got the virus.

“They could’ve kept it, they could’ve stopped it but they didn’t. They stopped planes from going to China but they didn’t stop them from going to the rest of the world. What was that all about?” Mr Trump had said.

Globally controversial figure that Mr Trump was, his suggested claim of COVID-19 conspiracy added to China’s defence as all of his critics and they were in millions shrouded his claim in cynicism and experts were more inclined to take China’s side.

The question whether that ‘coming from a lab’ (in Wuhan) was deliberate, making it COVID-19 conspiracy, or accidental will remain a mystery for the foreseeable future as China’s global economic might remain active to the silence its critics.