Flat White

The WHO has let the cat out of the bag: COVID-19 is now more about politics than public health

2 September 2020

5:00 AM

2 September 2020

5:00 AM

The World Health Organisation’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last Friday that “we will not – we cannot – go back to the way things were… the pandemic has given new impetus to the need to accelerate efforts to respond to climate change.” 

Tedros also said, “the pandemic has given us a glimpse of our world as it could be: cleaner skies and rivers.” 

It is noteworthy that in an address ostensibly about COVID-19 Tedros spent more time talking about the use of coal in the UK than about the loss of democracy, freedom, jobs, and livelihoods across the world due to lockdown restrictions. Perhaps as the head of an unelected and unaccountable global bureaucracy, such matters don’t concern Tedros. 

These remarks are significant because they are the first time someone from the global political class has said out what many have been thinking: the COVID-19 pandemic appears now to be more about politics and agendas than public health. 

And for those wondering what the connection is between COID-19 and climate change – both come from China, but apparently require extraordinary government powers to deal with, and neither are over until the elites say so. 

The remarks also give the public the first hint that the political class want to turn the tools of the pandemic, that is, border closures, lockdowns, state of emergency powers, to climate change. 

How far Australia’s political elite will follow the guidance of the WHO we cannot yet say. 

What we do know is that the goalposts over when the lockdown measures are to end have been repeatedly moved, and so the political class have form in misleading the public. 

Originally Australians were told that we could return to some recognisably normal way of life once a high degree of confidence was attained that the hospital system would not be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. 


This was the logic behind “flattening the curve”.  

On the most generous reading of the data, the curve was flattened by the end of April as the reproduction rate of the virus dropped below one in all states, meaning it would eventually die out. 

It rose above one in Victoria recently because of the failure of Daniel Andrews with hotel quarantining. 

Horror predictions by the Department of Health that under the best case scenario which included “quarantine plus isolation plus social distancing” a peak of 5,000 intensive care units would be required never came to pass. They were out by around a factor of 50. 

Rather than fessing up to their overreactions, governments changed their tune from shifting the curve to suppression, to elimination, and then to the need for a vaccine before life can go on as was. 

But the goalposts are again shifting. 

In his same address last Friday, Tedros also said: “even if we do have a vaccine, it won’t end the pandemic on its own.” 

The public is being primed to not only let this drag on until 2021, but potentially for much longer. 

This is fine for the political class and well connected. 

Not only do they get more power and relatively higher incomes as all the jobs being destroyed are in the private sector not in the bureaucracy 

The rules that they make also don’t apply to themselves, only to everyone else. 

Shane Warne can leave the nation to commentate cricket in the UK, but regular Australians who want to go to their mother’s funeral are being denied permission. 

Black Lives Matter protestors took over city streets across the nation with the explicit permission of those in authority while mainstream Australians couldn’t go to work. 

It is apparently easier to get into South Australia if you are a foreign student with a lot of money than an Australian citizen from Victoria. 

Professional AFL and NRL footballers went back to playing football in June and May respectively, while suburban football was banned. 

Presumably, Tedros would approve of Daniel Andrews attempted power grab in Victoria. Both are, after all, in the pocket of the Chinese Communist Party. Tedros through the funding the CCP provides to the WHO and Andrews through his singing onto the One Belt One Road scheme. 

Australians need to understand that their patience and goodwill to those in power reflected in positive approval polls is being taken advantage of. Tedros is just the first to say so out loud. 

Daniel Wild is Director of Research at the Institute of Public Affairs. Join as a member at www.ipa.org.au.

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