Part II of “Who’s Responsible: The WHO, Internationalism, and the Coronavirus Pandemic”
The WHO’s record in helping contain the transmission of viruses, many of zoonotic origins, that have created global public emergencies over the last two decades and that are quite likely poised to become even more critical in the decades ahead is rather more mixed. It may be that the organization was created with the intention of liberating the world from those diseases that had long been the scourge of humankind and whose very name evoked dread: typhoid, malaria, yellow fever, and especially cholera and smallpox. No one by the second half of the 20th century was quite thinking of the “plague”, even if the outbreak of pneumonic plague in Surat in 1994 (with bubonic plague discovered in three villages in Maharashtra), was a grimly reminder that this ancient pestilence had by no means disappeared. The incidence of death from the plague in Surat was only 56, and it was soon relegated to the background as an anomaly, as something that was merely an unpleasant reminder of “medieval times” in a modern age that had purportedly moved beyond such calamities.