Since the end of the Second World War in 1945, there had never been a time when the entire humanity is riveted with unending anguish, anxiety, frustrations, and accelerated depression. But this period has so far proven in recent memory, to be the worst time to fall sick. Also, for the first time in modern history, humanity is forced to retreat into quarantine by an invisible and virulent pathogen that has swept across the world despite human advancement in science and technologies.
For decades, experts, researchers, and observers had warned severally to prepare for an impending global catastrophe occasioned by the devastating human activities on our planet earth. Unabated pollutions, unending conflicts and wars, unethical scientific explorations, and increasing consumption of unhealthy substances are part of human misdoings which they noted, could inflict severe consequences on humanity. But the world ignored the warning. Despite several telling signs that predated the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the deadly pathogen struck the world by surprise and unprepared.
While I have heard and read numerous calamities that befell many generations in the past centuries, never had I imagined that I will ever witness one in my lifetime. Mirroring the historical flu of 1918 that was reported to have killed and infected millions of peoples globally, the novel coronavirus is swift, disruptive, tricky, mysterious, and perilous.
The origin of the novel virus still remains a mystery. The pathogen was first reported in a wet market in China’s Wuhan, a city of over 10 million inhabitants. Though, there are several claims about the origin, nature, potency, and the spread of the virus, with some, even hinged on a conspiracy theory. But one fact that has remained undeniable across all spectrum is its destructive impact on the entire world without hope of returning to normal soon. Whether the virus emerged naturally or is a biological weapon designed to achieve the acclaimed ‘singularity conspiracy’, or accidentally jumped from laboratory to human, as suggested by some quarters, what is more, pertinent is its scale of impact on humanity, which it has forced to adjust to a new normal of socio-economic discomforts.
Market of confusion
When this flu-like illness first reported in China in December last year, the world knew very little about the disease. But the Chinese Communist government, who had battled similar virulent diseases in the past swiftly responded with feat and vigour. Though, while some quarters blamed China for not quickly alerted the world about the full nature of the virus, it’s obvious that Chinese authorities tried their best to contain it without even spilling over their shores. China’s early strict measures put forth to arrest the deadly virus was very evident – locking down many cities with millions of inhabitants for months, was described as outstanding by world leaders. But because of the interconnectedness of our world, thanks to high-speed trains, planes, and others, coupled with the strange behaviour of the virus in sneaking around made it more difficult to strangle at the inception. The poor understanding of the novel coronavirus generated a lot of controversies amongst the health practitioners and political leaders. Also, almost every human on earth has never witnessed how pandemic virus impacted, and how best to respond to it, hence the market of confusion.
Added to the flame of the global health catastrophe are the politicization and increasing proliferation of what many come to term as ‘infodemic’. Blame games by great powers and ominous fake news and dubious claims about the disease; and of late, the profiteering of the global responses against the disease by politicians and dubious individuals are some of the sobering challenges that hindering the fight against the common enemy.
Racing for survival
For once in the 21st century, humanity has ignored the centrifugal forces to unite against the common enemy – the sprawling and mysterious pathogen that has so far infected millions and killing over 500, 000 people globally, and the figures continue to increase astronomically every day. From Beijing to Rome, New York to Cape Town, common priority is for survival. Scientists around the world are racing for at least, a respite.
Though, the virus is spreading rapidly like wildfire despite all possible efforts to contain it. But all hope is not lost. Significant numbers of infected peoples are recovering, while the pathogen is weakening its potency and lethality, according to a recent study from Italy. Also worthy to note, is the latest data on global infections which estimates the fatality rate above 4 percent. This and many other discoveries give a glimmer of hope, that with the current common vigour and momentum, humanity would defeat the virus sooner than later. But when and how remains a puzzle to guess.
The global economy is teetering on a sleepy downward trend, with thin hope of recovery soon. A recent report by IMF paints a glooming picture of the world economies. The International Labour Organization estimates that 195 million jobs could be lost. The World Bank projects a US$110 billion decline in remittances this year, which could mean 800 million people will not be able to meet their basic needs. It is obvious that the effects of the current crisis will leave deep and longstanding scars on the entire world. But for now, humanity’s first priority is to survive the pandemic, anything else comes later.
As it stands, the entire humanity may not going to be infected with this novel virus, however, every human on earth will definitely need time to recover from its scourge. Still, while the world has seen the starting point of the current global health crisis, what comes next is what everyone, including experts in various fields, is yet to unravel. But, gleaning from the recorded history of similar scenarios, coupled with the fragile and tumultuous nature of the current global community, it is safe to reason that, the longer the current tragedy persists, the faster the world inches towards the next strike which may be more devastating.
Note: This piece was first published on this medium under the headline: “Covid-19 Pandemic and the next strike” by the same author.