COVID-19, a “foreign” virus?

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

PHNOM PENH--The Spanish flu of 1918-1920, the Hong Kong flu of 1968-1970: These and many other diseases have been named after their epicenters or their history.  

Maybe in the future, we will talk about the “Wuhan” flu when referring to this ongoing pandemic. 

If this turned out to be the case, this would in no way mean that the incriminated virus was given a nationality: It would only indicate that it appeared there first. 

And yet, US President Donald Trump does not hesitate to speak of the “Chinese” virus or the “foreign” virus. 

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 couldn’t care less to whom it is foreign. It contaminates indiscriminately and relentlessly, crosses borders without papers, and is thrilled to meet along the way individuals who, because of their stupidity, are contributing to weakening the common front that the whole of humankind must build against it. 

When it comes down to it, this pandemic reminds us that our globalized, connected, digitized universe remains an archaic world in which primitive urges continue to prevail, urges such as the fear and rejections of strangers, which is easy—and dangerous—to harness.   

A vaccine will probably manage to contain, if not eradicate, the COVID-19. Unfortunately, no one will probably ever find a vaccine against those primitive urges.    


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