The Beatles musician referred to the popular theory that COVID-19 originated in a live animal market in Wuhan – known as ‘wet markets’ due to their frequently hosed-down floors – and compared the movement to eradicate them with the abolition of the slave trade.
Speaking to US radio host Howard Stern, per The Guardian, McCartney said: “I really hope that this will mean the Chinese government says, ‘OK guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here.’ Let’s face it, it is a little bit medieval eating bats.”
The singer went on to suggest that the unsanitary nature of the markets was responsible for more than just the coronavirus. “It seems like Sars, avian flu, all sorts of other stuff that has afflicted us… and what’s it for?” he said. “For these quite medieval practices. They need to clean up their act. This may lead to [change]. If this doesn’t, I don’t know what will.”
McCartney, who has been a vegetarian and animal rights activist for many years, said that the markets “might as well be letting off atomic bombs” in terms of the impact they were having on world safety.
“I understand that part of it is going to be: people have done it for ever, this is the way we do things,” he added. “But they did slavery forever, too. You’ve got to change things at some point.”
In the interview, the singer made reference to the fact that his parents had both lived through the Second World War, sounding a note of positivity in their “inspiring” stoicism.
“That spirit is kind of what they needed, and is what we need now,” McCartney said. “That’s what we’re seeing now, a lot of people are pulling together… People are realising there is so much good in humanity. And thank god, it seems to be showing itself.”
McCartney also spoke about the cancellation of Glastonbury 2020 due to the pandemic, which he was set to headline, saying: “What’s disappointing for me is the people who bought tickets, who were looking forward to this and thinking here’s something groovy to do in the summer, and suddenly the plug is pulled, and we can’t come around and play for them.
“It’s sad for us, too – we were looking forward to that.”
Earlier this month (April 3), McCartney was one of several high-profile musicians, including Elton John and Stormzy, to contribute to a video thanking NHS workers for their work during the coronavirus crisis.