By Matheus Maynard
The recent outbreak of coronavirus is spreading symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath amongst those infected, and it’s spreading racism amongst those not infected.
The world is terrified by the fast spread and death rates of the coronavirus outbreak which started in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Since the outbreak began in late 2019, the virus has infected more than 60,000 people, killed several hundred, and has infected people in more than 20 countries.
Little is known about this virus, and both treatment and vaccines are being developed at high priority in several countries including the U.S. and China. COVID-19 is a newly discovered virus that belongs to the family of coronaviruses. Its origin is most likely from an infected animal since coronaviruses primarily infect animals.
According to research done by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, COVID-19 is 79.5% sequence identical to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), another type of coronavirus, and 96 percent % identical at the genome level to a form of coronavirus that infects bats. Therefore, it is most likely that this virus infecting bats has mutated and jumped into humans.
The assumption of the virus coming from the bat has created a whole racist debate, blaming the Chinese people for their eating habits with the utmost racist and xenophobic comments all over social media.
Many people in the U.S. and other countries are constantly making remarks on social media about this coronavirus outbreak and the fact that they eat bats in some parts of China.
However, food habits in America are also related to several disease outbreaks in the past. The 2009 flu pandemic of Swine Flu (H1N1) infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands. This particular virus came from an infected pig. However, there were no racist comments of Americans loving their bacon being the cause of the disease spread. How is this situation any different?
The lack of knowledge has placed entire communities under an ignorant and racist mindset. The fear of the virus has also shown the true colors of systemic racism against different ethnic groups, and it has become an excuse to be racist. So much is assumed from a virus so recently discovered. Instead of caring and being concerned with the rational fear of the spread, people are enjoying the opportunity to be racist.
Americans should be more concerned about how the virus spreads here in this country. The Chinese have built a hospital to accommodate approximately 1500 beds in only 10 days, whereas the U.S. struggles to achieve affordable health care, let alone universal health coverage or an effective outbreak response system.
COVID-19 is spreading quickly, and while scientists and health organizations are battling to prevent a pandemic outbreak, Trump proposes to reduce the budget of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) by 16 percent in his proposed 2021 budget.
At this time, the need for unity and help is utterly essential. Affected areas lack basic preventive care tools, such as masks. They play an important role in preventing further spread, and several Chinese families living abroad are sending masks and health supplies to their relatives in China. Instead of showing hate, why not send some masks to help our friends in China?