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World has enough troubles without Trump's blame game

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Not long back, an exultant US president looked set to straddle a turbo-charged economy, confident it would power him up Pennsylvania Avenue for a second term in the White House by year's end.

What could possibly go wrong?

Along comes a virus which so far has killed 68,000 Americans, infected 1.1 million and snatched jobs from 30 million more.

Donald Trump's frustration is palpable.

Blame is a good outlet when people - and even presidents - are feeling ill-used.

But it is the wrong one. Nonetheless Mr Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both claim to have seen evidence China manufactured Covid-19 in a laboratory in Wuhan.

Mr Trump's economic adviser Larry Kudlow went so far as to say: "The Chinese have a lot to answer for, they're going to be held accountable."

However, top US epidemiologist Anthony Fauci has challenged the notion the virus was engineered.

"If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what's out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated," he said.

But it is also true this has not been Beijing's finest hour. Claims China initially tried to cover up the outbreak are difficult to refute.

It didn't lock down Wuhan until January 23. One study found if it had acted two weeks earlier, it could have averted 86pc of its coronavirus cases.

Yet a point seized on by US media is also telling. For another study suggests that had Mr Trump introduced social distancing guidelines two weeks earlier - on March 2 instead of March 16 - up-to 90pc of US coronavirus deaths might also have been averted. The scapegoating of China may be a profitable domestic gambit, but it would be wiser to wait for the facts.

The world's two greatest superpowers do not need to get involved in finger-pointing exercises when the planet needs to be united more than ever.

Undermining whatever tender prospects there are for international solidarity, scuppering a chance of a common approach to managing the pandemic would be unforgivable.

News that the UK has now sadly gone ahead of Italy with the highest number of deaths in Europe should serve as a sombre reminder that this is not the time for recriminations.

The World Health Organisation has also gone on record once more to say it has received no evidence or data from the US government to back up Mr Trump's claims.

As the 'Washington Post' recently noted, it might be remembered that the 1918 influenza epidemic - which killed 50 million to 100 million people globally - started in Kansas.

It became a global pandemic in no small part because US officials failed to warn their own citizens - or the world.

Covid-19 has already created a world of troubles. We do not need "leaders" to stir up new ones.

Irish Independent