After nearly two months in the bunker cutting off all social contacts, we are told 3,506,924 people (at the time of writing) got infected with coronavirus worldwide. This has claimed the lives of 247,473 including those of 65,000 in the USA alone. Nearly 1,125,255 patients (32%) recovered, but the pandemic has taken a huge toll on all aspects of people’s lives.
What have we learnt from this new deadly virus COVIDd-19 - at least, so far?
When a killer virus like this surfaces, we must note, it renders even the mightiest country on earth clueless: the USA had one coronavirus death every 44 seconds in the month of April and, during that period, she had to deny treatment to numerous non-coronavirus patients. She had to move from heaven to earth for help.
Yes, coronavirus had a particular place where it took birth. Whether it originated from the exotic wild animal meat market, called the ‘Wet market’ or leaked from a virology lab, the virus did come from China. It’s also clear now that the Chinese did hide the initial information about the virus from the world and allowed international travels from the city of Wuhan, the ground zero of the pandemic.
International anger was obviously expected. The Trump administration insists on calling this virus a Chinese or Wuhan virus. It’s reportedly planning to ask China to pay (as compensation) ten million dollars for each coronavirus-related death in the USA.
The Chinese are responding with their own arrogance. They know the world couldn’t inflict any considerable damage on them since many countries have deep stakes in the second biggest economy of the world.
Ironically, during the critical months of March and April, every affected country had to depend on China for the essential medical supplies. In fact, at one time all fifty US states had to outbid each other to buy the Chinese ventilator at unreasonably inflated prices.
This pandemic has, thus, taught a lesson to all the affluent countries who had turned China into their remote sweatshop and warehouse all in one. Little did they anticipate the dangerous consequences of handing over to China critical control over their life-line.
It’s a warning to all nations to be self-dependent, swadeshi and swawlambi, in the matters of essential services. Large countries like India and the USA must be self-reliant.
As for the virus, there are a number of lessons for the people across the globe to know about. People belonging to the younger generation must not think they were invincible, the virus could attack a person of any age, nationality, gender or race.
When this virus hits, it incapacitates such organs as are vital in helping do basic physical activities; it surely renders certain critical hormones ineffective that in turn lowers your immune system. All this happens in such a quick succession and in a short time that there's very little window for the medical paraphernalia to catch up.
After such a long and widespread lockdown in countries of continental sizes like the USA and India, there were differences of opinion on how to reopen the economy. In the USA, what may be applicable to Maine may be unsuited to Utah or Arkansas. Likewise, in India, Kerala will be different from, say, Meghalaya.
In a federal pluralistic and diverse country, it may be difficult and time consuming to arrive at a consensus. For example, in the state of Georgia and other states, the Governors were in favor of opening, but the businesses said no. Likewise, Chief Ministers in India and the Prime Minister had diverse views, but they worked on a consensus.
The people of color in the USA, like the poor in India, were particularly vulnerable to going back to work as the incidence of fatality in the wake of Covid-19 was higher in their group in proportion to their population. But they also had to depend on their everyday earnings to make both ends meet. The challenge is there for all nations to find a way to restore normalcy.
At least one European country, Sweden, claims to have found a better way to isolate and shield their senior citizens from the virus while keeping their working population in place and the country running normally. It will have to be seen if the incidence of Covid-19 increases in Sweden or other countries follow the Swedish model: the country is imperceptibly but deliberately training its population to develop adequate immunity against the virus.
In all lockdown countries, the reopening couldn't be all at once. The scariest segment of the population seemed to be the parents of the young kids: they had to go into a crowded environment where they could hardly take care of themselves. The parents also fear the kids couldn't be experimented upon with brand new medicines/vaccines or any other novel therapy. Students who are asked to take the only option of online courses have begun to realize that their resource constraints will not allow them to have complete education and training. Every business, every government bureau is forced to go back to the drawing board and map out everything anew.
It looks like when things reopen, social relationships, workplaces or the work culture will not be the same. There will be the advent of a new era where everyone will have an equal stake in living together healthy.
And against that global co-existence, the infection caused by viruses could be as lethal as the water-borne diseases or acute encephalitis syndrome which appear in Bihar every year.
Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). A former UGC teacher fellow (at JNU) in India and Fulbright scholar in the USA, he has taught politics and authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India, and Canada.
Dr. Prasad administers a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.