HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Paris, France or Virtually from your home or work.

6th Edition of World Congress on Infectious Diseases

June 24-26, 2024 | Paris, France

June 24 -26, 2024 | Paris, France
Infection 2024

Keekok Lee

Speaker at Infection Conference - Keekok Lee
University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Title : Assessing COVID-19 in the context of geopolitics


This contribution is an attempt to clarify some of the issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic when it hit the globe roughly between 2020 and 2022 from the perspective of geopolitics. It is, therefore, per se, not a discussion from the narrow medical point of view but the political and to argue that Epidemiology, in particular, cannot be adequately understood unless it is explored in a wider context which includes the history, culture, ethics, politics of each nation-state and the relationship between them. This exploration chooses to concentrate on two countries and their respective strategies to cope with the pandemic, namely, the USA on the one hand and the People’s Republic of China on the other – the former is paradigmatically a liberal democracy while the latter an autocracy/authoritarian regime. The PRC adopted two strategies (lockdown and mask-wearing) to control the spread of the disease. The USA did not, on the grounds that they were morally and politically abhorrent. American culture, in general, prioritises individual freedom above all other values, including safety and security about health. Chinese culture, in general, prioritises collective freedom above other values and hence endorse restrictions on  personal freedoms when these are deemed necessary to ensure health security, such as lockdown, mask-wearing, keeping an appropriate distance from others in public spaces, even avoiding public spaces altogether (even including not going out to shop). Politics apart, how effective are these respective strategies in saving lives? Mortality rates as officially reported by these two countries appear to show that the Chinese approach is more effective.


Keekok Lee is a graduate in philosophy at the University of Singapore (BA), of Oxford (B.Phil.) as well as of Manchester (PhD). She taught philosophy at the University of Singapore before joining the University of Manchester in 1966, taking early retirement in 1999. Since then, she has continued to research and to publish in numerous domains such as the philosophy of law, politics, genetics, medicine (both Biomedicine and Classical Chinese Medicine) and now geopolitics, using the techniques of analytical philosophy to clarify pressing issues raised in each of these domains. She practises what may be called practical philosophy.