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每日英語跟讀 Ep.947: Europe Said It Was Pandemic-Ready. Pride Was Its Downfall 歐洲防疫失守 敗在自負

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日英語跟讀 Ep.947: Europe Said It Was Pandemic-Ready. Pride Was Its Downfall

Professor Chris Whitty, Britain’s chief medical adviser, stood before an auditorium in a London museum two years ago cataloging deadly epidemics.

兩年前,英國首席醫療顧問惠提教授站在倫敦一座博物館的禮堂前,細數歷來各種致命的流行病。

From the Black Death of the 14th century to cholera in war-torn Yemen, it was a baleful history. But Whitty, who had spent most of his career fighting infectious diseases in Africa, was reassuring. Britain, he said, had a special protection.

從14世紀的黑死病,到受戰火蹂躪的葉門所爆發的霍亂,這是一段悲慘的歷史,然而職涯大部分時間都在非洲對抗傳染病的惠提說法讓人放心。他說,英國有特別的保護罩。

“Being rich,” he explained.

他解釋道:「就是富裕。」

Wealth “massively hardens a society against epidemics,” he argued, and quality of life — food, housing, water and health care — was more effective than any medicine at stopping the diseases that ravaged the developing world.

他認為,財富「大大增強了社會抵抗流行病的能力」,而生活品質如食物、住房、用水及醫療,就阻止肆虐於發展中國家的那些疾病而言,比任何藥物都更有效。

Whitty’s confidence was hardly unique. As recently as February, when European health ministers met in Brussels to discuss the coronavirus emerging in China, they commended their own health systems and promised to send aid to poor and developing countries.

惠提並非唯一一個如此具有自信的人。遠得姑且不說,就在今年二月,當歐洲各國衛生部長在布魯塞爾開會討論在中國出現的新冠病毒時,他們還稱讚自家公衛體系,並承諾向窮國和發展中國家提供援助。

“Responsibility is incumbent on us, not only for Italy and Europe, but also for the African continent,” said Roberto Speranza, Italy’s health minister.

義大利衛生部長史貝蘭沙說:「我們責無旁貸,不僅應對義大利和歐洲負責,對非洲大陸亦復如此。」

“The European Union should be ready for support,” agreed Maggie De Block, Belgium’s then health minister.

時任比利時衛生部長的迪卜洛克也表同意,他說:「歐盟應該準備好提供支援。」

Barely a month later, the continent was overwhelmed. Instead of merely providing aid to former colonies, Western Europe became an epicenter of the pandemic. Officials once boastful about their preparedness were frantically trying to secure protective gear and materials for tests, as death rates soared in Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium.

僅僅一個月之後,歐洲大陸就無力招架了。西歐國家不僅未能一如所言向前殖民地提供援助,自身反倒成了這場全球大流行疫病的中心。英國、法國、西班牙、義大利及比利時的死亡率飆升,只見曾經自詡已準備就緒的官員們一陣手忙腳亂,想盡辦法取得防護裝備以及用於檢測的物資。

This was not supposed to happen. The expertise and resources of Western Europe were expected to provide the antidote to viral outbreaks flowing out of poorer regions. Many European leaders felt so secure after the last pandemic — the 2009 swine flu — that they scaled back stockpiles of equipment and faulted medical experts for overreacting.

這不該發生。西歐的專業知識與資源理應為較貧窮地區傳出的病毒疫情提供解藥。許多歐洲領導人在上次2009年豬流感大流行過後對安全防護過度自信,以致削減了裝備庫存,並指責醫療專家反應過度。

But that confidence would prove their undoing. Their pandemic plans were built on a litany of miscalculations and false assumptions. European leaders boasted of the superiority of their world-class health systems but had weakened them with a decade of cutbacks. When COVID-19 arrived, those systems were unable to test widely enough to see the peak coming — or to guarantee the safety of health care workers after it hit.

而事實證明這個信心就是失敗的開始。他們應付病疫大流行的計畫建立在一系列錯誤的計算及假設之上。歐洲領導人吹噓自家世界一流公衛體系的優越性,但十年來的節縮減卻削弱了這些系統。當新冠肺炎出現時,這些系統無力以廣泛的檢測預見高峰期的到來,也無法在疫情爆發後確保醫護人員的安全。

Accountability mechanisms proved toothless. Thousands of pages of national pandemic planning turned out to be little more than exercises in bureaucratic busy work. Officials in some countries barely consulted their plans; in other countries, leaders ignored warnings about how quickly a virus could spread.

問責機制證明形同虛設。厚達數千頁的國家應對全球大流行疾情計劃書,只淪為行政作業上的官樣文章。一些國家的官員幾乎沒有參照計畫行事,各國領導人也忽視病毒會快速傳播的警告。

European Union checks of each country’s readiness had become rituals of self-congratulation. Mathematical models used to predict pandemic spreads — and to shape government policy — fed a false sense of security.

歐盟對各國準備就緒程度的檢查已成為自鳴得意的儀式。用以預測疫情蔓延並制定政府政策的數學模型,則助長了虛假的安全感。

Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/356435/web/

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