Just under a year ago, the biggest news story was trade wars, especially the United States versus China. Trade tensions between the superpowers threatened the global economy.

Before the advent of Covid-19, the US appeared to have its new and rising adversary on the ropes. China appeared to be losing the trade war after being strongly checked by the US. Its ascendancy was in question.

Then the Covid-19 pandemic came out the blue, first appearing in Wuhan, China. Whether China was guilty of deception or not in its late announcement that there was a big problem with the virus is today beside the point.

China, unlike the US and United Kingdom, acted thoroughly and aggressively at the onset. And eventually China contained the virus.

Then a new criticism sparked. The western media, especially newspapers and websites on the right and far right, began to blame China for the outbreak. The story was that China had purposely hidden critical information about the virus outbreak from the world. This alleged propaganda was being driven by western leaders, especially the leaders of the US and UK.

This may have been true to some extent. However, it was the gargantuan “cock up” by Mr. Trump and western leaders — who also knew of the potency of the virus, and who stupidly kept their countries open — that drove the pandemic to the place where the world was under threat and under lockdown. Initially, much of the western world believed Covid-19 was a disease unique to China.

 

China vs. US

When the virus arrived on western shores, there was anger. Mr. Trump’s US ignored the science and denied reality. The result has been seven million people infected and 220,000 dead.

Compared to the US — with a China that has over four times as many people as the US — China has had a tiny fraction of infections and deaths as the US. Then, unlike western economies, the Chinese economy together with Pacific economies has returned to growth.

Pundits have asserted that the reason for the difference is the Chinese people’s widespread adherence to the law as stated by the Communist Party, and a culture of collective responsibility.

On the other hand, in the US and elsewhere, discussions about wearing a protective mask became contentious. Mr. Trump led a significant set of US citizens, mainly white Republicans, to mock the wearing of masks, declaring the wearing of masks a sign of weakness.

But scientists are clear that the wearing of masks significantly reduces the risk of contracting and transmitting the virus.

 

In the polls

Mr. Trump’s disdain for health protocols combined with a shrinking US economy — the International Monetary Fund has predicted the US economy will shrink by eight percent in 2020 — shows why Joe Biden is 10 points ahead in the latest poll averages.

Then Mr. Trump contracted Covid-19 in early October, and the virus has spread in the White House and places where Republicans have been campaigning. This is the great irony of the 2020 US election campaign.

The fact remains that good public health and a healthy economy are synonyms. There can be no healthy economy in the midst of a raging pandemic. Mr. Trump failed to understand that fact, and he will very likely pay dearly in November.

 

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