Covid-19 origin-tracing: Embrace multilateralism, shun unilateralism

Wednesday September 15 2021
Tracing pic
By Humphrey Moshi

The onset of the Covid-19 has ushered in a broadened spectrum of tensions between the United States and China. This was expected given the ongoing rivalry and competition between the two countries. This being the case, the recent past has witnessed another dimension of the tensions: the origins tracing of the coronavirus which has shaken the whole world, both economically and socially.

Given the unfolding political discussions and concerns on “how” and “who” should undertake the tracing job, the findings must be regarded as objective and credible in the eyes of all stakeholders.

Before joining the debate, I would like to remind the readers that the approach adopted by the United States using its intelligence services to investigate the origins of the coronavirus has been harshly criticized by the Government of China. This was expected given the high-level politicization of the exercise, which in turn has resulted in acts of stigmatization, scapegoating, finger pointing and misconception: a situation which accentuates even farther the tensions in relation to the pandemic since its outbreak in the late 2019. Definitely, no one should have expected credible results from such circumstances, which were and are underpinned by an approach which is basically unilateral. Indeed, such an approach is usually and normally unscientific, subjective and biased. Therefore, in order to do away with these anomalies, a-two-step or layered methodology is proposed.

Firstly, a multilateral institution has to be tasked to undertake the assignment. And such an institution should have the requisite mandate on that particular sector. In this regard, the World Health Organization (WHO) is the right candidate. Further, the emphasis on the imperative of a multilateral institution is not only informed by the current high level of globalization, but also the global social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Surely, no country in this global village has been spared from neither the infections, nor the mortality and widespread fear.

Secondly, the tasked institution should constitute a multilateral team of experts to shoulder the work. Again, the emphasis on “multilateral team of experts” from different countries and regions becomes a critical issue. This aspect underscores the collaborative spirit needed to ensure that the excise is transparent and reflective of the pandemic’s borderless effects. The United States could also join that team if she so wishes. With multilateral experts or professionals in that field, one will be confident that the team would adopt a scientific methodology which would be free from politics and ungrounded biases. It needs to be recalled that scientific methods have one common characteristic: that of being systematic and objective in seeking answer(s) to a problem.

Indeed, embracing such an approach would not only come up with credible results and outcomes, but also lay a solid foundation for promoting and enhancing (not undermining) solidarity, which is an essential element for confronting and overcoming the contemporary and future pandemics in this borderless world. We should never forget that this kind of events repeatedly happen in human history and therefore call for adequate preparedness in terms of coping and adaptive strategies and mechanisms. However, such strategies have to be informed by and based on the scientifically verifiable evidence.