‘Fear over Covid-19, the deadly strain of novel coronavirus, appears to be spreading even faster than the virus itself, as the subject continues to dominate the media. CNN, for example, has produced nearly 1,200 articles mentioning the outbreak, Fox News over 1,300. NBC News has added a coronavirus tab to its homepage, putting it on equal footing as business, world and sports And at the time of writing, two-thirds of the stories on Reuters’ newswire in the previous hour were on the subject, pushing other topics to the wayside. Certainly not helping the worry has been irresponsible clickbait reporting describing the virus as an “uncontrollable…pandemic” and the “end of the world.”
Yet the worldwide focus on the coronavirus has highlighted the deep inequalities in how some maladies are covered and others are simply ignored. Just over 3,000 people have died after contracting the virus since the first reported case on December 1. Over the same time period, a condition like diarrhea typically kills around 550,000, according to the World Health Organization – something that could easily be remedied in virtually every case. Meanwhile, around nine million people die of hunger or hunger-related conditions every year, according to Mercy Corps – an average of one person every three seconds. Yet these shocking realities that rival the worst predictions of what the coronavirus could bring are ignored as mundane, business-as-usual non-stories by comparison.
Over 800 million people – one in nine – go to bed hungry every night, with 98 percent of those people living in the global south. Hunger is responsible for nearly half of all deaths of children under five. Starvation should be a key feminist issue, as sixty percent of the world’s hungry are female. If mothers are hungry, it affects their children through potential complications in childbirth, less nutritious milk and less attentive care. Hunger, especially in childhood, often leads to stunted development, both physical and mental, and increases the risk of chronic illness, meaning that it effectively steals children’s futures away from them.’