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WHO statement on the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee on the populist/xenophobic “America first and to hell with the rest of the world!” virus

By Kristof Decoster
on February 3, 2016

 

 

(Margaret Chan, at a press conference running 50 minutes late)

 

Today I convened an Emergency Committee, under the International Health Regulations, to gather advice on the severity of the health threat associated with the continuing spread of silly (and thus downright dangerous) American GOP presidential candidates, also known as the ‘America First and to hell with the rest of the world!’ virus.

The Committee met today by teleconference. The committee consisted of Rob Yates, Devi Sridhar, Jim Kim, Larry Summers and Ilona Kickbusch and was chaired by Richard Horton. Fox journalist Megyn Kelly also joined, as an external advisor.

In assessing the level of threat, the experts and adviser looked in particular at the strong association, in time and place, between political rallies of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz on the one hand, and neurological and behavioral complications in fans attending these events, on the other. Although not quite the same, and for reasons still unclear to the committee, Trump & Cruz fans typically tend to cheer for smug male politicians who seem extremely happy with themselves,  many also wave American flags as if their life depends on it, and dumb remarks on the stage are almost invariably interpreted as bluntly ‘telling it like it is’.

During and after rallies and GOP presidential candidates’ debates, there is also a steep rise in detected cases of wacko and nearly paranoid social media traffic, that unfortunately could have major consequences on public health in America and elsewhere in the world, if one of these two men were to be elected as president of the United States later this year. It’s for a reason this virus is called ‘America first and to hell with the rest of the world!’.

The experts agreed that a causal relationship between political rallies by these two “gentlemen” (what’s in a name … (chuckles) ) and neurological and behavioral complications among potential GOP voters are only strongly suspected for the time being, not yet scientifically proven.

But all agreed – and especially the (extremely worried) chairman, Richard Horton – on the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better.

The experts also considered patterns of recent spread and the broad geographical distribution of the media species that can transmit the worrisome populist/xenophobic virus. Megyn Kelly had some great advice there.

The lack of vaccines and rapid and reliable diagnostic tests, and the absence of population immunity in newly affected countries were cited as further causes for concern. Many European countries already show early signs of a nasty European version of this virus. It also appears that the virus is mutating, although sexual transmission has not yet been detected.

After a review of the evidence, the Committee advised that the recent cluster of worrying caucus results in Iowa constitutes an “extraordinary event” and a public health threat to other parts of the world. One can only imagine what a president Ted Cruz or Donald Trump would unleash on the world.

But rest assured, WHO is determined not to let this happen. We will not be caught nodding this time!

Members of the Committee agreed that the situation meets the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. 

I have wholeheartedly accepted this advice. (In fact, I almost began to sing)

For the time being, the Committee found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to the US to prevent the spread of this dangerous populist/xenophobic virus. But Bruce Aylward is following the situation closely.

At present, the most important protective measures are turning off your telly whenever ‘The Donald’ or creepy Ted are on, and clearly, avoid their ‘full of themselves’ rallies as much as you can (unless you have a professional reason to attend them). Pregnant women should take special caution, as it seems possible that if they go to these political rallies, the foetus in their womb might also be affected. True, babies won’t be able to vote in the next election, but in twenty years from now, who knows what might happen, if they go to Trump offspring rallies…?

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(PS: don’t take this blog post too seriously…)

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