England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, anticipated that we would blame foreigners (in this case China) for the next global pandemic, a year before coronavirus emerged.
Delivering a lecture on pandemics to Gresham College in October 2018, Whitty pointed out that we always blame foreigners for pandemics, even when the cause is a lot more complicated.
“In the great majority of pandemics that are new to the world, animals is where they come from,” Whitty said.
“Nevertheless, being humans we tend to blame foreigners, and sometimes rather predictably. For example, when syphilis came to the UK we called it the French pox, the Neapolitan pox and the Spanish pox depending who we disliked most at that stage. People talked about English sweating sickness, the Spanish flu, and so on.”
As we all know, anti-immigrant politicians like Nigel Farage and Donald Trump have tried to pin the blame for coronavirus on China – where the virus originated – with the latter labelling it the “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu”.
And while China has questions to answer about why it covered up the early outbreak of the virus, the evidence shows we have been blaming other countries for pandemics for centuries.
If Trump and Farage could now return themselves to the 14th century that would be much appreciated.