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Diplomacy's Global Health Expert Addresses Congressional Committee About COVID-19  

Professor Huang testifies on COVID-19

Testifying on Capitol Hill last week about the coronavirus, Professor Huang (left) said: "Instead or provoking fear and panic, governments should provide the public with a more balanced picture of the nature and spread of the virus."

Professor Yanzhong Huang, Director of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations' Center for Global Health Studies, and a Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations testified at a hearing by the House Committee of Small Business on the impact of the COVID-19 on March 10.

Huang updated the committee on what is known about the origins and spread of the virus that began in China and has now reached pandemic status. Huang explained that compared with SARS, which like  COVID-19 is also a coronavirus, scientists do not agree on the origin of the outbreak, or on how it is transmitted or the duration of its incubation period which may range from 1 to 24 days. "Bombarded and oversaturated every day by news on this seemingly mysterious virus," Huang told the committee, "people increasingly perceive COVID -19 as a dreaded risk."

Quoting predictions by Harvard epidemiologist Marc Kipsitch that 40 to 70 percent of people worldwide could be infected within the coming year, Huang noted that 81 percent of COVID-19 cases are mild and do not require hospital care. The virulence of the virus, he added, justifies the emergency response that has been unfolding across the country. "Declaring emergency measures allows the mobilization of the needed resources and capabilities to address the challenge."

Huang, who has been called to testify on Capitol Hill on several occasions, including during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, went on to address some of the drastic containment measures countries have taken to limit their exposure. He reported that South Korea has already screened 260,000 members of a church linked to the outbreak in that country. He added that some trade and travel restrictions may be unnecessary, citing the "unjustified documentation" that has been requested by certain countries on imports. Huang warned that social distancing measures has led to discrimination aimed at Asian-American businesses and individuals in the United States. If it lasts more than a year, Huang warned, the COVID-19 pandemic could spur business failures on a broad scale, along with unemployment and a further drop in consumer demand that could provoke a worldwide recession.

Huang went on to urge the lawmakers to remove politics from prevention and risk management measures that are being pursued around COVID-19. "Instead of provoking fear and panic, governments should provide the public with a more balanced picture of the nature and spread of the virus. Solid information that is not driven by fear would help the public prepare for the outbreak in a more rational and reasonable way."

To view Huang's complete testimony, click here.

At the School of Diplomacy, Huang teaches security and foreign policy aspects of health issues. He has authored the book Governing Health in Contemporary China and is the founding editor of Global Health Governance: The Scholarly Journal for the New Health Security Paradigm.

Huang has been interviewed by numerous media outlets on the significance of this latest outbreak, including The New York Times, PBS, Yahoo! Finance, Bloomberg TV, BBC News, Financial Times, Time magazine, The UK Guardian, France 24, Caixin, Wall Street Journal and Public Radio International.

To learn more on the coronavirus, here are writings and interviews with Professor Huang with Council on Foreign Relations In-Brief on why experts are worried about the new virus; CFR's The President's Inbox podcast: The Wuhan Virus and Public Radio International's The World podcast on the WHO coronavirus meeting.

Click here to learn more about Professor Huang, Director of the Center for Global Health Studies at Seton Hall University and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Global Health Governance.

Links to selected media coverage include:

Coronavirus Lessons for the World from Ground Zero of Asia 
Bloomberg News Online | 3/12/2020
Relevance: Yanzhong Huang 

U.S.-Chinese Distrust Is Inviting Dangerous Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories
Foreign Affairs Online | 3/5/2020
Relevance: Yanzhong Huang 

'Confusion breeds distrust:' China keeps changing how it counts coronavirus cases
CNBC Online | 2/26/2020
Relevance: Yanzhong Huang

Iran's high reported mortality rate for coronavirus raises questions 
NBC News Online | 2/25/2020
Relevance: Yanzhong Huang

Why some experts are questioning China's coronavirus claims
CBC News Network Online | 2/24/2020
Relevance: Yanzhong Huang

China's coronavirus controls are starting to pay dividends, but elsewhere in the world infections are rising fast
South China Morning Post Online | 2/22/2020
Relevance: Yanzhong Huang

China moves on two fronts to ease anger over coronavirus
The Japan Times Online | 2/14/2020
Relevance: Yanzhong Huang

U.S.-China Bickering Threatens to Hobble World's Virus Fight
Yahoo News | 2/14/2020
Relevance: Yanzhong Huang

In business vs. coronavirus, coronavirus is winning
Fortune Online | 2/13/2020
Relevance: Yanzhong Huang

China sacrifices a province to save the world from Coronavirus
The Economic Times Online Edition | 2/7/2020
Relevance: Yanzhong Huang

Categories: Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • Gwen Debenedetto
  • (973) 275-2562
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