By Austin Maho P.hD
Watching the grand ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China on Sept. 8, 2020, one can only but recall the immense battle and sacrifice the Chinese people have gone through in the last 9 months to bring COVID-19 under control.
Where many countries have floundered the Chinese have through committed leadership and rigid discipline confronted COVID-19 and defeated it.
The battle against COVID-19 has been fierce, it has been decisive and the People’s Republic have every reason to celebrate this moment and the men and women who have put their lives and professional reputation on the line through selfless sacrifices in the battle to contain and control the novel coronavirus from become a major health epidemic in China.
The gathering at the Great Hall of the People was to celebrate the heroes of the fight against COVID-19. From a grateful nation came some of the highest awards in the land. A Medal of the Republic and the National Honorary title to those who have contributed in no small measure to bring the virus under control.
Among the recipients for his uncommon service was renowned respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan.
To underscore the importance of the award, Chinese president Xi Jinping together with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission were on hand to present the award to the recipients.
In his speech president Xi noted that, China has fought a fierce war against the epidemic and has passed the “extraordinary test of history. He called for transforming the virus-fighting spirit into tremendous strength to build a modern socialist country and achieve Chinese “national rejuvenation”.
At the event which was witnessed by over 3,000 people, Xi presented the Medal of the Republic to the 84-year-old renowned respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan and the medals of the national honorary title to three other medical experts. They have all been on the frontlines in the battle against covid-I9 in China and have been responsible for proposing epidemic prevention and control protocols that saved many lives.
Speaking at the event, Zhong pledged to cooperate with colleagues around the country and the world to continue working on tracing virus sources, blocking transmission routes, and developing rapid diagnosis, medicines and vaccines.
Early on in the COVID-19 outbreak, China implemented intense measures to keep people physically distant and other restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes the disease.
Inspite of global outcry and resistance those measures succeeded.
These extraordinary measures ensured that in less than a month, the daily number of new cases in China leveled off, and has since slowed to a trickle. Evidently the reduction of contacts among the population is what has really abated the epidemic in China.
The Chinese success is because the measures were stricter, which gave the virus fewer opportunities to jump to a new person.
As President Xi said during the event, the Chinese government adopted “extraordinary measures” to tackle the COVID-19 epidemic, and had made a commitment to ensuring that people’s lives and health were given first priority.
China has effectively curbed the spread of the virus and life has significantly returned to normal across China.
It is also significant to note that having successfully contained the outbreak, China is now focusing its efforts somewhere else which is the global efforts towards finding an effective vaccine for the virus.
The arrow head in the research team for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 in China is Chen Wei who during the award ceremony at the Great Hall of the People was conferred with the National Honorary Title of the “People’s Hero” for her work that has ensured that China became the first in the world to enter phase-two clinical trials in April.
Remarkably the vaccine developed by her team is already undergoing phase three clinical trials. China may actually become the first country in the world to produce an effective vaccine against the virus.
The Chinese triumph over COVID-19 presents opportunity for the rest of the world to learn and get a handle on the spread of COVID-19.
Rather than empty rhetoric and misinformation about the virus, the world must come together in solidarity to fight the virus. Unilateralism is not going to help anybody at this point in time. A multilateral approach that sees COVID-19 as a global problem demanding a global solution is the only way to go.
When some countries act with a single purpose of mind the result is disaster like what we are currently experiencing in some parts of the world. There is need for greater cooperation between rich countries and poor countries so that no one is left behind. A situation whereby some rich countries would use their financial muscle to edge out poor countries from access to future vaccines is not in the interest of global peace and prosperity and a renunciation of our common humanity.
Unfortunately those that have been largely affected by the virus are the most vulnerable, in our societies. While the rich can afford to pay for the most expensive treatment money can buy. The poor as always are bearing the brunt of the outbreak. Why some countries have put measures in place to give universal coverage for all those affected by the virus, many others have monetized treatment. The consequence is that if you don’t have money you may not be able to get the right treatment.
China has shown that with committed and an all-inclusive leadership COVID-19 is not a death sentence. By its action the Chinese government was able to give practical expression that government exists to serve the people.
This concept was well capture by president Xi during the award ceremony, “We are willing to do whatever it takes to protect people’s lives!” he said.
Xi lauded the Chinese people for uniting as one and commended the heroes emerging from all walks of life amid the epidemic.
At the international arena, China has taken up the leadership challenge and has successfully spearheaded one of the most intensive and wide-ranging emergency humanitarian assistance the world has witnessed in recent times.
It is on record that between March and September this year, China exported 151.5 billion masks, 1.4 billion protective suits, 230 million goggles and 209,000 ventilators to support the global fight against COVID-19.
China twice donated funds to the World Health Organization (WHO) totaling 50 million U.S. dollars and has sent medical expert teams to 32 countries around the world.
Evidently, the Chinese government has not only honored its deserving citizens who have been at the frontlines in combating COVID-19, it has also through its actions shown that this virus can be defeated, the rest of the world really need to swallow its pride and learn from the Chinese experience.