• Daniel Ethan Finneran

The "WHO"-han Coronavirus

April 2020

A sick man, believing himself in health, is unlikely ever to be cured; there is no remedy, after all, for obstinacy. It’s a blight, beneath the skin yet always festering, to which the proud man, though seldom the wise man, is inclined predictably to succumb. So too might it be said of an international health body, as opposed to a mere human body, atop whose stiff neck a hardened head rests. Of said bodies, I speak here with particular reference to that of the World Health Organization, or, as it’s widely known, the “WHO”. It is a body, indeed, the world’s largest and most eminent health body, in whom, for the desire of the preservation of our species’ well-being and the continuance of our kind, our collective trust has been placed.

Perhaps, however, we were unwise to have invested it where we did. The WHO, as evidenced by recent events, appears to be undeserving of the possession of so delicate a gift. The organization is, by every indication by which we’re embarrassed to have become aware, nothing better than a ponderous, mischievous, maladroit entity—to whom we Americans contribute a disproportionate fifteen-percent of its operating budget, and from whom we can expect little in the way of help. It’s proven itself, time and again, unequal to the exigencies of the moment by which we’re now being overcome. It seems incapable of reaching down to its fundamental charter and living up to its assumed raison d’etre: that of protecting the humanity of which, as we’ve been led to believe, it’s the intrepid benefactor, and of propagating the medical and scientific truth.

Demonstrably spineless and venal in form, the WHO, we’ve now learned, isn’t the type of governing structure to whose sturdy core every nation can affix the branches of its own arms. It’s not the ideal, unifying, burly anatomy upon whose broad shoulders the weight of our own hopes can securely rest. It’s nothing of the osseous substrate out of which we’d preferentially have our own “bodies” made. If they were, they’d be more likely to crumble. They’d just as quickly buckle at the brittle articulations of its knees, as the WHO’s legitimacy falls in a heap of dust.

We know this now. Having examined it as if under the X-ray vision of a full, discerning light, we see the WHO for what it is: a limp and supine body, Sinophilic and Science-phobic, from which we must, if we’re to retain our dignity and self-respect, divest our future trust. It’s a body at whose groveling and servile helm a bunch sick and proud men and women reside. The cloak of their good intentions and lofty pronouncements, behind which—for many years—they’ve draped themselves and stood, has been acknowledged and stripped away. We see them now in their naked garb and, with a consensus of our joined observation, pass our judgment that we’re unimpressed.

In the course of the past three months, a vertiginous and frightful quarter of a year defined by the outbreak of the novel Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, these men and women—among whom, mind you, we number some of the world’s most eminent medical researchers, epidemiologists, and physicians—have proven themselves not only inadequate to the task on which their professional (and, by extension, our personal) lives are staked, but irremediable in every moral, political, and humanitarian sense. The WHO’s failures have been not only abundant, but painfully contrary to the “Health” for which that organization’s medial “H” supposedly stands.

Its shortcomings are legion. Parroting the doubtful message by which the Chinese communist government was attempting to salvage itself in the pandemic’s incipient phase, the WHO announced that “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan”. This, however, came weeks after such an inter-human conduit of transmission was established, a fact of which the Taiwanese government and its independent researches were acutely knowledgeable. In fact, they were the first to awaken the WHO to this information by which, apparently, it was neither moved nor convinced. Pity, for had it been, a huge diminution in deaths might’ve been the consequence.

Instead, the WHO agreed blindly to devour whatever garbage was served to it by the Chinese Communist regime. It accepted, quite without hesitation nor curiosity, the talking points by which its mouth was filled. There were, along with the Taiwanese, a few intrepid Chinese scientists for whom this possible route of transmissibility was, for lack of a better word, disquieting. But, as it turns out, these were the very people, indeed, the most important people, from whom—with the type of alacrity for which totalitarian states are known—the privilege of circulating this information was revoked. This information, had it not been suppressed, would’ve clearly indicated that the virus could indeed pass from man to man between the particles of his breath. The information, from the standpoint of said “Chinese authorities” wasn’t so much erroneous on the merit of its science, but injurious to the face of the regime. As for the WHO, it pressed the matter very little, incuriously accepting at face-value the tales to which their Chinese masters treated them.

In subsequent weeks, the WHO continued to downplay not only the gravity of the disease, but the potential lethality of it as well. It equated this enigmatic affliction, of which the early 2000’s SARS was so oddly reminiscent, with a type of “viral pneumonia” to which, on any given year, we’d all be ineluctably and innocently exposed. So much for that, yet it was the script given them by the Chinese government. Consequently, the WHO raised and sounded no early alarm of the potential transmissibility, the widespread fatality, the contagiousness and the virulence of this menacing and growing plague. The virus was, for this and other reasons, a perfect storm for which our blithe and distracted world was fully unprepared. This is an oversight for which we, as money-chasing laymen and pleasure-seeking lovers, can be largely excused; the WHO, whose job it is to find and report precisely these cases as they arise in their inchoate forms, can be less easily forgiven.

The WHO then turned its attention (of which it had already proven itself to possess rather little) to matters of political and—in the shadow of the malady by which we were increasingly being swallowed—trivial concern. It took time out of its busy schedule from licking the boots of Xi Jinping and his Communist Party apparatchiks, to turn its scorn westward and castigate President Trump. It did so for the latter’s attribution to “Wuhan” as the source and cause of the novel coronavirus, a city in whose name, at the time of this writing, fifteen-thousand American lives have been claimed.

This, in the haut opinion of the WHO, wasn’t to be tolerated; it was unbecoming, inaccurate, and offensively outré. Apparently, the use of accurate demonyms (among which, in the course of a pestiferous passage through our medical history, we might recall such titles as the Spanish Flu, the Hong Kong Flu, the Ebola Virus, the Zika Virus, the German Measles, the Lyme Disease, the French Disease, and the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) is not only to be discountenanced, but fully discontinued in the special case of Wuhan. The WHO, for its part, exhorted us promptly to break with this insensitive tradition and avoid attaching “locations or ethnicity to the disease”. It went on to assure us that the “official name of the disease was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization”. Or, alternatively, it was chosen to stroke and appease the Chinese government’s ego, and ensure its continued access to that populous realm.

Tireless in what’s become its open campaign against President Trump—of whom, perhaps with greater tact and forbearance, it’s not at all unreasonable to be critical—the WHO condemned his ban on Asiatic travel. At his urging, along with that of the Sino-skeptic advisors (such as his economic advisors, Peter Navarro and Robert Lighthizer) by whom he was undoubtedly influenced, President Trump placed a moratorium on non-essential travel between China and America. This, when first declared, was denounced by many, the WHO not excluded, as an ugly recrudescence of his earlier “Muslim Travel Ban”—for which he was roundly and rightly chastised at the outset of 2017. It was the WHO’s opinion that his decree, though less perfunctorily imposed than its predecessor, was not only ill-considered, but overtly xenophobic.

Now, seemingly, the entire planet has lined up to follow in the path of which President Trump was the unexpected trail-blazer—a strange circumstance for so whimsical a thinker, unstable an ambulator, and heterodox a man. Most nations, rightly prioritizing the health of their own citizens over the sensitivities of their commentariat (to whom any criticism of China has become, for some odd reason, tantamount to racism), have stopped receiving flights from Asia. Emphasizing the needed insularity of the situation, they’ve proceeded to do so from Europe and every other continent, be it contiguous or not, as well. We’ve thus witnessed, in not only the nineteenth-century but the twenty-first as well, an act of both Chinese and Worldwide exclusion. In so doing, the international community has made the WHO look near-sighted and petty and Trump, by comparison, prescient—an epithet to which, on only the very rarest of occasions, he has anything close to a claim.

The most glaring example, however, of the WHO’s ineptitude in its response to this pandemic, as well as its blatant sycophancy to the Communist Party of China, is also the most recent. But a few days ago, a journalist from Hong Kong, no friend, mind you, of the Xi Jinping regime, was engaged in conversation with a WHO official. Attentive to the social distancing precautions about which we’ve heard so much, the reporter and the Canadian epidemiologist to whom her questions were respectfully posed were discussing the pandemic over the platform of a tele-conference. The reporter raised the question of Taiwan’s membership in the WHO—a body, like most bodies, from which the tiny island nation has been pitilessly excluded. This, it seems, is Taiwan’s eternal punishment for being the nettlesome neighbor over which the mainland, despite its best effort, has failed to exercise its hegemonic control.

Evidently discomfited by the question for whose answer the reporter patiently waited, the WHO official pretended, for a total of ten cringe-inducing seconds, not to have heard it. One could sense behind the dumb expression by which his face was illumined the hastening of his heart’s beat, not to mention the obsequious fear of upsetting the Chinese officials to whom, as he made clear, he’s totally servile. Confirming that their connection had not spontaneously been breached, the reporter, undismayed by the “silent treatment” of which she was so awkwardly a recipient, pressed to her interlocutor the question once again. He recommended they proceed to another. She declined to relent. Having arrived at something of an impasse, and having the expedient and excuse of a failing internet connection by which, he might say, he was inopportunely poorly served, he decided to shut himself off. In a grand display of tact and intrepidity, the kind upon which our future tales of heroes and myths will surely be based, the WHO official promptly cut off the conversation and let it go to black. He dropped his weapon (in this case, his microphone) and, with the shamelessness of a coward, turned on his heel and fled.

Upon re-establishing their connection, and upon the reporter reiterating her question yet again, the WHO official—for whom, as evidenced by his manner, this entire back-and-forth romp was becoming an importunacy by which he’d rather not be bothered—concluded by saying that he’d already spoken enough, as it is, on the topic of China. No further would the subject be pursued. Yet the question, at this point thrice repeated, was on that of Taiwan. A learned man, one mustn’t suppose that this was a fact of which the obeisant epidemiologist, fatigued by a reporter yet faithful to China, was ignorant. It was a remark, deliberately crafted and sharply applied, by whose impact he’d wanted the idea of Taiwanese sovereignty and, more cruelly even than that, its dignity to be punctured. For what it’s worth, by every indication, that resilient little nation is far tougher than is he.

This man, one of the many by whom the World Health Organization is lead, is a very sick one, indeed. Yet he, like the rest of its leaders, believes himself in the soundest of good health. Until now, he’s never been led to believe he was not, having been safely coddled in the warm embrace of the Chinese government and the enticing perquisites of its strong and reaching grasp. And, as there is no remedy for the obstinacy by which he and his ilk are ailed, what recourse is to be taken on the world’s behalf? This organization, it seems, isn’t likely to be cured. Neither is the world, in its presence, ever to be made completely well. A new body, I think, might be more healthfully born.

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Success, ‘tis said, yet more success begets– On the prosperous rains ever more profits. So reads the adage of the Gospel’s Jew: The iron law, the Effect of Matthew. “To him who has much, more will be

The tree of government is triply branched, In three portions split, in three segments tranched: Nearest the root is where Congress is housed (Of whose brainless bugs, it should be deloused!) The branc