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COVID19: Jeffrey Sachs says Cyprus, not Trump has shown the way

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Good leadership is important to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, but US President Donald Trump has not provided it while Cyprus is a better example to follow, said renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Sachs criticizes Trump, he doubts that a vaccine for coronavirus will be available soon, and refers to the role of Cyprus against climate change in the Mediterranean region.

Asked what is the first lesson from the pandemic professor Sachs said: “The first lesson is that this epidemic can be controlled with good leadership and effective public health systems.”

“While this is a dire emergency it is one that we can surmount.”

“Fortunately, Cyprus and Greece have done relatively better than other parts of Europe and I am counting on that to continue.”

“The Asia Pacific region has generally contained the epidemic but the United States suffers from another disease called Donald Trump.”

We have a completely incompetent and malevolent President and it shows up in the 110,000 deaths in our society.

So, I think this is a very powerful argument for good governance because it is a terrible scourge that gets out of control when the government is incompetent or malevolent.”

Sceptical about a vaccine

Sachs says there are two questions posed about the search for a vaccine, such as will there be an effective vaccine and how fair will the use of this vaccine be.

“Off course these are huge uncertainties compounded by the fact that there is a lot of self-interest of companies announcing positive results that don’t really mean that much.”

He said it is done to attract “more investors it boosts stock prices; it makes it easier for them to get grants from governments.”

“So, I am a bit sceptical that we are going to get a vaccine sometime soon.”

“We have been told in the United States that a company named Moderna is already going to start producing a vaccine this Fall.”

“It is very -very unlikely that such a vaccine could be available and used on a large scale.

The technological base of that vaccine is unproven. Even for it to be safe for use would require that there be a trial period of a year or so before it is put into the bodies of millions or even billions of people.”

“There are other vaccine candidates, the may or may not work.”

“We have to act under the presumption that there won’t be a vaccine soon.

If a vaccine is developed then the question of fairness and distribution will come up and there are different camps and power structures in this.

The United States government is very much in the hands of its drugs companies, so the US government will likely try to defend the patent rights and the prerogatives of the US.”

You know it would be very good fortune to have a vaccine soon potentially, but let’s plan also that there isn’t one and use the more traditional means of testing and quarantine and face masks and other kinds of protection.”

Leadership skills

Sachs believes that a small country like Cyprus can make a difference in the greater effort for sustainable development and combatting climate change.

“President Anastasiades has said that this is a priority for the region.

He faces all the pressures in the region, hydrocarbon countries but he knows very well how dangerous this is for the Eastern Mediterranean region so he has really been leading to make sure that political leaders in the region know the dangers and therefore get together to find solutions and this can make a very big difference.”

“Leadership counts a lot.”

“When you have the absence of leadership or destructive leaders like we do in the United States right now you end up with the collapsed economy, you end up with the massive deaths from an epidemic you end up with unrest in the streets.

Trump I believe is the worst President we have ever had and in just a short period of time, he has wrecked the economy, failed to control the epidemic, provoked social unrest and is provoking a geopolitical crisis together. It is very unusual.” (source CNA)