Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday sent a written message to the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation, at which the announcement was made that China would be providing 2 billion doses, and $100 million in funds to COVAX this year. Xi made the overall point that vaccines are a “global public good,” and that health security is in the common interest of all.
This is exactly the vantage point from which Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche initiated the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites in the early months of the pandemic, to stress the higher, common interest involved, and also to mobilize forces to take this up as their shared responsibility. Speaking on how it can help people overcome their limited focus on lesser battles, in a presentation at the July 31 international Schiller Institute conference, she said of collaboration on health security, “who can refuse this?”
Now, the necessity of collaborative action for biosecurity is seen in a new disease outbreak in the food supply. In July, Africa swine fever (ASF), a virus disease of pigs, for which there is no vaccine, showed up in the Caribbean, the first time in 40 years it has appeared in the Americas. It is in 11 provinces of the Dominican Republic. The microbe is very transmissible among animals, and also via contaminated clothes, shoes, scraps, etc. The only recourse is to mass kill and dispose of the pigs. It does not hurt humans directly, but pork is a major part of the food supply. China experienced a loss of 50% of its swineherd in 2018-2019, successfully beating back ASF; and has since rebuilt its herds. But the Caribbean—well as Africa, where ASF has been endemic—cannot do this under the current destructive economic system, which has suppressed development, and now, under the Green Deal, orders people to die off, in the name of “saving the Earth.”
The point is, morality and natural law are one. With the human response of compassion and creative action, the means to not only solve crises, and also to expand in numbers and levels of living standards and creativity are ensured. Look at the dimensions of what must be taken care of, from recent CDC data:
Water: Over 3 billion people are unable to wash their hands safely at home. Some 785 million have no access to basic water services; 885 million people do not have safe drinking water.
Sanitation: Over 2 billion people have no access to basic sanitation services.
Food: Over 800 million people are food insecure, that is, their supplies are insufficient and/or unreliable. More than 40 million are near the point of starvation this year.
Electricity: More than 940 million people, 13% of the world’s population, have no electricity. Of the 87% who have electricity, millions have it intermittently, and at low power.
Add to this picture the COVID-19 pandemic, which, as of 18 months ago, has infected 200 million people, with 4.2 million deaths, by official count, which understates the true numbers. Mutations and new outbreaks of other infectious diseases continue.
In the United States capital yesterday, orders were given for thousands of residents to boil their water, because their District of Columbia central water was unsafe. Economic development is an imperative.
The special strategic opportunity, at present, is for reconstruction and development to mark the future of Afghanistan, after decades of enforced strife and suffering. Today in Turkmenistan, there was a meeting of the five nations north of Afghanistan, at the Third Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan.) They discussed upgrading energy systems and corridors of transit, as well as collaboration against the pandemic.
Hussein Askary, Schiller Institute liaison for Southwest Asia, struck the same theme on the significance of supporting Afghanistan as “the place where a new order can develop.” Speaking on a Hong Kong-based podcast yesterday, Askary said: “Now there is intensive diplomacy to make sure that the different parties in Afghanistan can come to the conclusion, that none of them can control the country totally. And it’s better for them to have a reconciliation process. But right now, what China, Russia and the neighbors of Afghanistan can do—and the United States can do, if they wish—what they can do, is help the Afghanis rebuild their country, and that paves the way to stability.”