Why Western countries will not learn from Asia’s anti-pandemic experience ?
November 24th, New Media Special News Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post website published the title “Coronavirus: Why haven’t the United Kingdom and the United States and other Western countries still learned from Asian success?” The author of this article is John Bauer. The full text is excerpted as follows:
During the initial outbreak of COVID-19, Western authorities failed to respond effectively like many of their East Asian counterparts. Now that the second wave of the epidemic is back, they are once again difficult to fight, and in the face of the surge of cases, it seems to be resigned to the closure measures previously excluded due to economic and social costs.
Nearly a year after the novel coronavirus was first reported, Western governments are still unable or unwilling to follow Asia’s control experience. While keeping the mortality rate of COVID-19 patients low, Asia has minimized the damage and social isolation caused by the epidemic to the economy.
“Most countries seem to be doing what they do, and basically don’t learn from and learn from the successful practices of other countries,” said Jeremy Rothman, a senior lecturer in virology at the University of Kent, UK.
Roseman said: “It is hard to say why these countries do not consider adjusting their policies now. Continuing to adopt the approach that has been initiated in the country seems to be partly related to political will. Another possibility is that adjusting the strategy needs to recognize that the current practice is not working, and the situation is serious enough to require a huge new investment.”
Although many Western countries have been belated to adopt some anti-epidemic measures implemented in Asia, such as wearing masks and large-scale testing, Western authorities have been reluctant to accept other epidemic prevention strategies, such as South Korea’s programs and quarantine measures that can track contacts more effectively.
Some observers point out that cultural factors have played a role in the way South Korea and other places respond to the epidemic. They believe that individualistic Westerners are less conscientious in not spreading the virus, but are more worried about the impact of technological solutions on personal privacy.
Leslie Saxon, a professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, was skeptical of Americans’ willingness to accept some of the measures taken by Asia, and said that the United States suffered from its “highly politicized chaotic response”.
“Apart from possibly participating in the race for vaccine development, we have not rationally, systematically or centrally leveraged the vast resources of talent in the Western world to fight the current pandemic,” Saxony said.
Others believe that the difference between Western countries and the Asian region lies not in values, but in the lack of political will and decisive leadership.
“I personally feel more about political will and leadership than a matter of values,” said Xu Liyang, an infectious disease expert at Su Ruifu School of Public Health of the National University of Singapore.
Xu Liyang believes that today, there may still be “a cognitive deficiency, whether in the public or the media — even among experts” for successful interventions outside the West.
Reina McIntyre, head of the Biosafety Research Project at the Kirby Institute of the University of New South Wales in Australia, believes that it may be arrogance psychology at work.
“I think Western countries are used to condescending and low- and middle-income countries, thinking they are superior to them in all aspects, including disease control,” McIntyre said.