Sick. It crept over me yesterday and hit hard last night in bed – aches, runny noise, sore throat. I just tested for the big C but no, luckily, just a miscellaneous flu. Ben has been sick all week, and his teacher says most of his class is out.
On Thursday, by chance, I watched a superb HBO documentary about the onset of Covid in China and the US: In the Same Breath, by Nanfu Wang, a Chinese-American who was visiting her mother in Wuhan and just got out before the city locked down. But she was prescient enough to ask people there to film what was going on, despite the danger of doing so; people were forbidden to talk about the virus and certainly to film. Doctors in Wuhan at the start of the pandemic who spoke about it were arrested and lost their jobs!
What unfolds is the disastrous, indeed criminal reaction of an arrogant, authoritarian regime that wouldn’t admit the problem and then over-reacted to it. They knew about a new virus in December 2019! Simply ignored it for months. And what followed is almost beyond bearing, as the doc shows hundreds of desperate people lining up at overcrowded hospitals with no beds. She tells us the official death count in Wuhan was just over 3000, whereas it was certainly ten times that or more. The heartbreak for survivors is not only that so many loved ones died, but that they died alone.
And yet we see family members devastated by death wholeheartedly praising their government. The power of indoctrination and propaganda – and fear – is horrifying.
And then she shows the US, crowds of angry anti-vaxxers screaming about freedom. Insane. Even Fauci, at the start, downplaying the danger. And then exhausted healthcare workers weeping about the lack of preparedness and equipment, the number of deaths.
The most moving moment comes at the very end, when she posits what could and should have happened: by January 1 2020, the Chinese government could have issued a world-wide press release; there’s a new virus that is very transmissible, exercise extreme caution. Travel would have beed curtailed; governments would have begun urgently to prepare. The virus would have been contained, and the few who contracted it would have received proper care.
Instead – Xi and Trump – heads in the sand, and over six million people died.
Six million dead, a number that resonates violently with me.
The power of documentary. Please try to see this extraordinary film.