The coronavirus crisis could have been prevented because there was enough information available to the world, according to Noam Chomsky, who has warned that once the pandemic is over, two critical challenges will remain – the threats of nuclear war and global warming.
Speaking from his office in self-isolation to Croatian philosopher and author Srecko Horvat, the celebrated 91-year-old US linguist offered a stark perspective on how the pandemic has been managed by different countries.
“This coronavirus pandemic could have been prevented, the information was there to prevent it. In fact, it was well-known in October 2019, just before the outbreak, there was a large-scale simulation in the United States – possible pandemic of this kind,” he said, referring to an exercise – titled Event 201 – hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Nothing was done. The crisis was then made worse by the treachery of the political systems that didn’t pay attention to the information that they were aware of.
“On December 31, China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of pneumonia-like symptoms with unknown origins. A week later, some Chinese scientists identified a coronavirus. Furthermore, they sequenced it and provided information to the world. By then, virologists and others who were bothering to read WHO reports knew that there was a coronavirus and knew that had to deal with it. Did they do anything? Well yes, some did.
“China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore began to do something, and they have sort of pretty much seemed to have contained at least the first surge of the crisis.”
He explained that the way the West prepared for the crisis differed between countries.
“In Europe, to some extent, it’s happened. Germany … did have spare diagnostic capacity and was able to act in a highly selfish fashion, not helping others but for itself at least, to evident reasonable containment.
“Other countries just ignored it. The worst was the United Kingdom and the worst of all was the United States.
“One day [US President Donald Trump] says, ‘There is no crisis, it’s just like flu.’ The next day, ‘It’s a terrible crisis and I knew it all along.’ The next day, ‘We have to go back to the business, because I have to win the election’. The idea that the world is in these hands is shocking.”