Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Uncomfortable precedent of Covid-19 coronavirus



Uncomfortable precedent of Covid-19 coronavirus

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A plastic model of the Covid-19 coronavirus at the Quality Control Laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing. AFP

Uncomfortable precedent of Covid-19 coronavirus

US President Donald Trump and various US officials, citing invisible “evidence”, have been demanding an international investigation of China’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, and even threatening a lawsuit over China’s alleged failings. They might want to think first about some precedents.

AIDS, for example.

AIDS was initially diagnosed in a cluster of five men in the US on June 5, 1981. However, despite further cases arising in short order, it was not until May 1983 that a US scientist first published a description of the disease in a reputable international journal (Science).

Today, in the absence of further research, we can only speculate as to how many lives were lost unnecessarily because of the failure of the US government to provide a timely warning to the rest of the world. When it first appeared, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was as unknown as the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 was last November.

Imagine what the impact today might have been if the Chinese government had followed the US example and waited two years to provide the world with scientific information about Covid-19.

Again, further investigation will be necessary to confirm or refute the likelihood that the US government’s delay in alerting the world was not accidental but a deliberate political decision, based on the initial mistaken belief that AIDS was a disease affecting only homosexual men. The first AIDS diagnoses occurred during the early months of the presidency of the ultraconservative Republican Ronald Reagan. Since Reagan was a believer in astrology, it cannot be excluded that the decision to remain quiet about AIDS was dictated by his and his wife Nancy’s astrologer’s reading of the stars, but it seems more likely that Reagan would have wanted to suppress any suggestion that homosexuality was widespread in the US.

In any case, it is clear that any country whose citizens have been affected by HIV/AIDS has good reason to demand an investigation by the WHO or the UN of the origin of HIV and how it was allowed to spread from the US after its first discovery.

It is unclear whether there is an international statute of limitations that might apply in this case, but such an investigation might provide many countries with grounds to sue the US on behalf of their injured citizens. If the US government refuses to submit to judicial accountability, it could be punished by tariffs on imports from the US.

Allen Myers
Phnom Penh

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio