Never before in the history of mankind, had a pandemic inflicted with such horrendous cost. A pandemic is also an epidemic that spreads over several countries and continents while affecting a large group of people. On that note – all pandemics are epidemics but not all epidemics turn into pandemics. On the spreading of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the technical term requires a clear understanding.
However, the ‘Coronization’ of the globe now appears to be simply a matter of time. Schools have been shut, public gatherings have been prohibited, and the world’s sporting calendar has been wiped out. Flight cancellations from region to region are shooting up – on the whole – now it’s a virus that has been dictating our lives. With every single hour passing by the pandemic seems to be teaching bitter lessons and concurrently keeps hinting at ominous messages for the future.
Lesson – 1
Unlike the majority of the global population, at least this writer doesn’t feel like placing all blames on the shoulders of the Chinese authorities. But yes, they could have performed better to tackle the spread of the deadly disease. The deed is done and the Chinese will have to shoulder much of the blame for failing to contain the spread of COVID-19 worldwide. Theists and atheists in different capacities have become engaged to explain the Corona – curse. One of Bangladesh’s leading Alim (Religious scholar) has even posted a Youtube video on how the Corona-angel had visited him and explained why the virus has erupted to teach Chinese non – Muslims a lesson. He even added that the virus will not target pious Muslims, how wrong he was. On the flip-side, good news for a practicing Muslim is that his or her five times ablution may well keep the virus at bay. However, the first lesson here is that mankind is yet far behind to intercept, tackle and destroy threats of neo – lethal diseases – be it Corona or whatever fatal that may appear in the future. I am just too pleased that the virus hadn’t erupted here – who knows this writer could well have been an early victim to it.
It is time for all the countries to individually and collectively invest more on endemic and pandemic preventive projects. More than enough has been invested on advanced military gadgets and guided weaponry systems to eliminate political, economic, military and ideological rivals.
The blessing in disguise is that not only China – all developed nations across the world will now become hell-bent to invent vaccines to combat epidemics and pandemics. Research and development costs for regional powerhouses, including the superpower USA, are likely to shoot up. Additionally, the vaccine and antidote industry across the globe will likely give birth to a new Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs thriving on their relevant healthcare inventions. The Corona – curse will undeniably support a sinister healthcare business syndicate to make dollars worth in billions out of the health crisis. Capitalizing on the Corona crisis has already begun and the next lucrative industry may be the untapped ‘virus industry’.
Lesson – 2
So far it appears a pure Chinese propaganda and guesswork, but the rumor that certain US military officials are responsible for transplanting the disease in China cannot be wiped out. Perhaps the world is heading towards virus and pandemic wars instead of nuclear confrontation. Simple estimate, if you can defeat your arch rival by inflicting a health crisis economically, what’s the need for a military confrontation. Additionally, even arranging a military showdown or troops deployment these days costs up to millions – sometimes crossing over a billion dollar.
My reading is that a dirty geopolitical game is in the offing surrounding the COVID-19 spread – it is likely to determine the short course of global diplomacy and regional trade policies. And China is likely to have a hard time since the 5, 122 casualties worldwide in somehow will be linked to China – directly or indirectly.
The point here, the COVID-19 is no longer a health and safety crisis – it is likely to change the course of the world order this year. And the crises will also influence the US presidential election held to be later this year. And Donald Trump can capitalize and march forward for his second term. It will all depend how the US president makes the best out of the Corona- curse. Being a broker more than a businessman, he is expected to re-design his trade and economic policies, and he might also end up inventing the much needed vaccine for the rest of the world. US have so far registered 41 deaths out of 1, 800 cases – much better to many Asian and European statistics. President Trump now has the room to‘re-emerge’ as a ‘charitable leader’ other than a shrewd and street-smart businessman by offering lucrative trade deals and financial packages to buy off smaller countries heavily depended on Chinese exports and expertise.
Lesson – 3
In terms of economy, geopolitics, health and well being – COVID-19 is a shock to the existing world order, and I wonder whether the existing order will be amended or remain the same. That said – had the country of Corona-spread been Vietnam, Thailand and even India – the volume of losses in various sectors could have been, in some way calculated and adjusted. But the country of origin is the ‘unofficial superpower’ China. Just imagine the size of a $ 14 trillion plus economy coupled with the country’s size and its massive population. Including tourists and all types of visitors, nearly 159 million people travelled to China in 2018 and Chinese tourists’ numbers to a colossal 130 million plus (inexact figures) – the badly hit global tourism and aviation industry will have to rethink and redesign their respective business models to survive and grow.
I will not be surprised if the global tourism industry decides to carry out compulsory health & hygiene safety assessment tests of worldwide tourist destinations. Additionally, hotels, restaurants, market places to historical sites to night clubs all may come under stringent sanitizing schemes while giving a boost to sales and manufacturing of all types of disinfectant sprays. Not to mention, how a sinister local syndicate, manufacturing face masks and sanitizers had made the best out the global health crisis by hoarding and wickedly hiking the prices of their products.
Lesson – 4
As much as the COVID-19 is a global health curse, it is also the nature’s harsh and not sweet revenge. It is time to end farming and feasting on wildlife. And not only China, all countries must unite to impose an immediate ban on this objectionable gastronomic trend. Wildlife anywhere around the world, is not meant for turning into sumptuous or medicinal dishes.
There may be other painful lessons to learn from the outbreak of COVID-19, the sad truth, however, history repeats itself. The Chinese Doctor Wenliang, hero for raising the alarm had to pay his discovery with his life. Moreover, the world should have drawn lessons from the last couple of pandemics. The SARS virus scare of the early 2000s, claimed 774 people. More recently the MERS virus killed more than 850 people, although the outbreak was largely contained to the Middle East. This time the outbreak has been wider and number of lives lost greater.
The recorded history of mankind has registered innumerable wars and military confrontations. Kings to dictators have either won or lost while building or destroying an empire. But an all-out war to defeat the empire of lethal infectious diseases remains a far cry. The global media today is only abuzz agonizing the curse of a deadly virus. And it has spread into an invisible deadly empire on its own terms, claiming lives from continents to continents – it is the ‘Corona Empire’.
Shall we now learn the lessons?
Written by Shahriar Feroze The writer is the Assistant Editor, News & Editorial, The Daily Observer, Bangladesh