When Incremental Leadership Fails to Contain a Pandemic
Dr. Li Wenliang was born on October 12, 1986, in Beizhen, China. He died on February 7, 2020, in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province. He was 33 years old. He died unnecessarily.
An ophthalmologist, Dr. Li sent an urgent message in late December to his peers about his growing concern of a SARS-like outbreak in Wuhan. (SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Shortly afterwards, he was told to appear at the Public Security Bureau, where he was forced to sign a statement that he’d made false claims that could incite civil unrest.
He went back to work, where not long after he contracted from a patient what the medical establishment calls coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Dr. Li has become a folk hero in China (photo below).
It’s currently believed by medical experts that the corona viral illness Covid-19 has its origin as early as December 1-8, 2019. Likely, but not definitively, it came from bats and/or the odd looking pangolin (a scaly anteater), passed to humans via live animal markets in Wuhan.
China deliberately repressed the rapidly growing viral outbreak, finally clamping down as January wore on. However, by that time some five million Wuhan residents (a city of 11 million) had travelled widely to other parts of China, Japan, and further abroad.
Let’s be clear: China, specially the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), owns this global problem. However, the almost exclusively feeble and irresponsible national government responses have hugely expanded the illness. The gold standard when it comes to taking aggressive preemptive action belongs to Taiwan, which understands the evil ways of the CCP. South Korea, a big trading partner with China, quickly took action, as did Singapore.
Not so the rest of the world.
Indeed, the Land of the Free is proving to be, in the vernacular, a literal gong show of inept national leadership. During an interview with Bill Gates on March 28th, CNN’s Anderson Cooper delicately asked him whether he thought the church pews could be filled at Easter. Gates gave a tight smile, then proceeded to give a lucid detailed response of why the current escalating self-isolation/quarantine measures in the U.S. (and abroad) need to be sustained for at least 10 more weeks. That’s mid June, two months after Easter.
Gates, brilliance in action, is, with his fantastically smart wife Melinda, donating $100 million to fighting Covid-19. During the interview, Gates spoke about other innovative initiatives underway in the scientific community. But make no mistake: a successful vaccine is 18 months out. He’s hoping that in the future that vaccines to combat pandemics will be rolled out within 12 months. Plus, he noted other research developments underway that will compress response times for future epidemics.
The need for social distancing and other pro-active measures to control the highly transmissible Covid-19 (one person infects three, thus exponential growth). The Imperial College of London recently ran scenarios on Covid-19. The scenario with no social distancing produced a death of 40 million people world-wide. In comparison, the 1918 Spanish Flu killed 50 million (though with a much smaller global population).
Hindsight, of course, is 20/20 when we look at what has been mostly gross incompetence by national leaders. Witness the Government of Canada under the stewardship of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (whose wife Sophie is recovering from Covid-19 after a trip to a WE conference in London). Many of Canada’s 10 premiers have been out ahead of Trudeau in putting in place measures. It’s only in the last week where Trudeau and his cabinet have stepped it up on both the economic and health fronts.
The white knight coming to the rescue is the ingenuity of the private sector in a variety of countries and the innovative capacity of humans. And therein lies the dichotomy of the human race: its failure repeatedly to learn from past catastrophes yet its tremendous ability to adapt.
Ten years hence when the next pandemic looms, will we repeat the failures we’re witnessing now, or will we practice the necessary leadership to stop it in its tracks. I’m praying that Millennials and the maturing Generation Z will be up to the task.
If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace. — Franklin D. Roosevelt
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