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World is unwilling to defeat COVID-19 - EDITORIAL


24 August 2020 02:44 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The number of coronavirus disease across the world has crossed 23,383,472 mark according to ‘Worldometre’, and 808,715 succumbed to the disease as of August 23, 2020.  
In Sri Lanka, due to a timely and strict enforcement of lockdown and other related measures, the country was able to keep numbers down to a minimum. Strangely, the professional who led the country’s battle to successfully control the virus has now been stripped of that post and kicked upstairs. The post of Director General of Health Services remains in abeyance. Sri Lanka is on the brink of lifting restrictions on international travel. This important administrative post remaining unfilled leaves a leadership vacuum in the event of a second wave of the dreaded COVID-19 hitting the country.   

In the US, the Trump administration has continuously belittled the efforts of medical experts leading that country’s fight against the virus, with no less a person than the US President himself disparaging their efforts to gain political mileage. Today there are 5,841,428 coronavirus cases in the US with 180,174 fatalities making it clear that messing up with efforts to control the virus will backfire.  
Our giant neighbour India, appeared to have controlled the numbers of infected cases. However, since travel restrictions were eased, the virus has spiralled out of control in that country with 3,044,940 cases and 56,846 fatalities. Today India has the third highest rate of infection next to Brazil and the US.   

Despite the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic spreading wildly out of control and the numbers dying increasing by the day, the UN-led initiative to speed up the development of COVID-19 vaccines and medications face a massive funding gap. The UN project, known as the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT), estimates it needs US$31.3 billion over an initial period of 12 months. Unfortunately the project has received a paltry US$ 2.5 billion in pledges, a WHO spokesperson said. The initiative, advocates for the fair distribution of future vaccines and medications to developing as well as developed countries.  

Despite large-scale funding being urgently required to halt the spread of the pandemic, the developed countries of this world seem to believe that development of weapons of mass destruction are more important than investing in saving of human lives.  
For instance, the US (earlier the largest contributor to the WHO) has cut all US government funding to that organisation. Yet the US spent a total of US$732 billion in 2019 on military expenditure. The so-called developed countries, appear unable or unwilling to promote a programme that could possibly develop a vaccine which could prevent spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. A disease which has since the nine months of its being recognised in China, caused 808,715 deaths worldwide as at 23 August.   

Despite refusing to invest in a programme to save lives and halt the march of the COVID-19 pandemic, the so-called developed nations of the world, (the nine nuclear-armed countries namely China, India, the US, Israel, France, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and Britain) during the past year - 2019 - alone, spent a massive US$ 72.9 billion on the manufacture, deployment and development of weapons of mass destruction! Namely nuclear weapons. They also continue spending massive sums purchasing and developing armaments.  
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Centre (SIPRC), total global military expenditure rose to US$1,917 billion in 2019. At the same time military spending by the United States grew by 5.3% to a total of US$732 billion in 2019. It accounted for 38% of global military expenditure, according to SIPRC.   
In 2019, China and India were, respectively, the second- and third-largest military spenders in the world.   
According to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) programme, 88 million out of India’s 1.2 billion population, - roughly equal to 6.7% of India’s population, lived below the poverty line of US$1.25 in 2018–19.  

In Pakistan, the reported that in absolute terms, people living in poverty would increase from 69 million in June 2018 to 87 million by June 2020. Indicating a 26% increase in poverty or an addition of 18 million people.  
Today, around 808,715 people - men, women and children - have died of the Coronavirus. But the United Nations is unable to raise the US$31.3 billion to fund research to develop a vaccine to halt the march of the pandemic.  
A sad reflection on our world and its values.    

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