What lessons can be learned from the COVID-19 outbreak?

As an ordinary Chinese lawyer, only during this extraordinary time, with limited knowledge and language skills, I would like to make this extraordinary efforts communicating with the world!

Tingyong Liu | Senior Partner

Shanghai Jie Hua Law Firm

[email protected]

Apparently, there will be a lot of lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 outbreak. Without a full and transparent research about its origin and its development, we can not be sure on this stage. Based on the media reports, it looks like that governments and leaders should be the ones learning lessons. It might be true. But, is that the whole picture? Is there anything else we should take a hard look at except the political system?

We have much more to think about, assuming that this virus was transmitted from horseshoe bat to human and then spread out.

Virus and pandemic education

Because of this disaster, now we have more knowledge about virus and pandemic. I learned from some news report that bats have body temperature as high as 50 degrees Celsius, making them capable of living harmoniously with virus of various kind and becoming the perfect virus carrier. Those tiny bodies are hoarding an arsenal of deadly weapons for mankind.

That was not a new discovery. But how many of us knew that before this outbreak? Even if some bat-eaters were really the first ones infected because of their disgusting choice of food, without basic education about its disastrous potential, how can we seriously blame them? If it has already been known by scientists that the threat posed by pandemic is dead serious, how can that not be in every elementary schools textbook? And what do we expect, ignorant or starving people automatically steer clear of exotic animal meat?

We can go even further. For terrorism, religion, race, and other things profoundly affecting this world, how much can students learn about them at school? Are there any common knowledge on those issues worth communicating with ordinary people?


between scientists and govt officials

Governments world around are under a lot of pressure. Issues like transparency and pandemic response were frequently brought up by the media. At the same time, we learn from news that at the initial stage of this outbreak, even scientists had different, sometimes opposite point of view. That could have put anyone in high offices pause and ponder. To be fair, political leaders are not experts, how would they make wise judgement on which side was right about this issue?  

It can be assumed that some scientists issue warning of some kind quite often. It is hard to imagine any government leaders would take quick action upon hearing the possibility of catastrophe from scientists every single time. In the communications between science world and government, there are a lot of questions worth asking. For scientists, how can they efficiently draw a reliable conclusion? And are there better ways of presenting the case without leaving officials the impression of exaggeration? For government officials, on the matter of life and death, is it a good idea to let just a few experts having your ears?

And when different ideas exists among experts, what kind of mechanism should be established to help authorities make better choices?  

Government and experts are the main providers of critical information. For the sake of human lives, they need not only to do their own jobs right, but also to have good communication with each other.

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