“Kung flu, yeah. Kung flu” This was one of the many provocative, racially motivated phrases that former President Donald Trump used in his campaigns to describe the COVID-19 virus. Despite being condemned by Democrats and even Republican colleagues for being racist, Trump never stopped using those words, and neither did many of his supporters. This is just one of the many examples of how the pandemic has been politicized. A lot of the arguments happening nowadays are no longer about the pandemic or science itself. They have been diverted to the disputes between parties, interests, and even ideologies.

Here in the US, people are arguing incessantly about issues that should be very clear during a pandemic such as wearing masks and getting vaccinated when a safe vaccine is available. Science is being ignored, and people are dying from supposedly preventable causes. Even though misinformation is no longer being spread on a federal level since the start of President Biden’s presidency, the damage has already been done. 1 in 10 Americans were infected with COVID, and a great number of Americans, especially Republicans, stopped trusting scientists and even science itself.

As an international student from China who’s studying in the US, I’ve been feeling a lot of tension from both sides since the pandemic began. The world has become even more polarized and divided during a time when we all should unite together. When I look at the media on both sides, I feel a great disappointment in the antagonization and relentless disputes. It is extremely rare right now for the media that I see to put politics aside for a moment, and focus on how we could fix the crisis with an outlook of international engagement and cooperation. We’re driving ourselves away from each other, instead of closer.

Even after nearly two years of struggle, we should never forget what has happened during this pandemic. The world has become more divided, and politics have gotten in the way of solving a global crisis. It is something that we should constantly reflect on. What has put us in such a plight, and what should we do to prevent it in the future? It is certain that a pandemic will come back in the future. The only thing we can change is what we do next time.