What A Contagion Can Instruct?

Coronavirus pandemic has proven itself a giant catastrophe. Emerging from a handful of cases in China, it has marred the whole globe irrespective of how mighty states are.

By Umar Bin Farooq

Coronavirus pandemic has proven itself a giant catastrophe. Emerging from a handful of cases in China, it has marred the whole globe irrespective of how mighty states are. Apex economies faced a halt and fiscal recession. Abysmal public health measures worsened it more. Around 70 percent of the world’s population confronted lockdown. Death toll brutally soared and destruction was indecisive.

Amid this pandemic, speculations regarding the ravages are still being anticipated. The wrath of this outbreak has disturbed the world order. Factories, universities, borders, and airports were closed and people were made confined to their homes for few months. Such unprecedented measures were carried timely in some states and ebb of reported cases had been recorded there. But still, it has ravaged some mighty states. Many employees or daily wagers lost their jobs and thus raising the spectre of widespread turmoil. Analysts have evaluated that the pandemic in itself is an equalizer as well as a weak up call. Dreaming of the world post-pandemic is key in ensuring that we should change for the better, not for the worst.

We need to set our priorities. Primary health care should be of apex prominence. We haven’t faced such a paramount public health emergency before. People should use it as a strong justification for health security. The former US President Donald Trump fuelled this stance by admitting the fact that the coronavirus attack was worse than Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Governments must ratchet up and deploy their hospitals to cope with such a health crisis. Sadly, the outbreak has undermined our health sector. In Pakistan, at the peak of 1st wave, there were just 3,800 ventilators out of which 2,000 were privately owned. Considering the surge of reported cases, these critically fewer numbers were not sufficient to support us. We must put our footings in wartime for the build-up of a stockpile of protective gear like personal protective equipment and ventilators. Another sorrowful moment was the inadequacy of quality face masks for our front-line workers. Markets were enriched with pirated and high-priced N 95 masks, thus putting health professionals in danger. The budgetary portion for the health sector, which is regrettably 1.7 percent of our GDP, should be boosted. Unveiling a fun fact that one leopard23 battle tank costs the same amount of money that can produce 440 ventilators. Yet, the ministry of science and technology and other stakeholders deserve admiration for their eleventh-hour contribution.

Coronavirus pandemic has raised the need for digitalization as a doctrine of necessity. The physical world is decimating and the digital world is thriving. In the post-pandemic world, digitalization will be ubiquitous as it is now. Previously, people behaved cynically or reluctantly to use technology. But now the scenario has changed. Universities have shifted their paradigm to online classes via zoom or google meet. Offices all over the globe permitted their employees to work from home. Silicon Valley will siege us and we have to increased dependence on technology which may have grave consequences. The majority of the people will lose jobs by the blessing of this automation in the industrial sector. It can also put our privacy at stake and more cybersecurity threats will prevail. The administration is going to indulge itself more in personal lives. More surveillance could be seen and thus technocratic authoritarian model will deepen its root.

The outbreak has attacked at a time when the international as well as national system is less immune and badly compromised. Layers of changes are obvious to occur. Less international cooperation can be an outcome and a wave of nationalism can prevail, thus forcing nations to remain stick to their objectives. On the flip side, “fair share” in this crisis can bring prosperity. The global health emergency can last for a few years and countries will strive hard to flatten the curve of new infections. But it’s a timebomb ticking in the world’s forgotten places. To overcome this situation, the global supply chain must be revived. Countries with leaky health systems must be assisted with ventilators and other necessary equipment. Such outbreaks in near future can be more calamitous. An inflexible attitude like, “what can’t be cured, must be endured” can no longer save us.

Another terrific challenge is to cope with vaccine deniers. It’s a flash of embarrassment that a major chunk of our society is involved in an organized campaign against COVID-19 vaccination derive. Despite massive media commercials, we are lagging behind and only six million have been vaccinated so far. Such low numbers are a clear manifestation of the community’s stubbornness. This mindset can bring us greater threats and, God forbids, any wave can hit us severely.
To put it all in a nutshell, the key to cope with such disasters isn’t purely dependent on our national efforts but there is room for international cooperation. We also need to change our social norms and ethics. Ignoring the guides by health officials can bring deadly consequences. Conferring to Yuval Harari, the antidote to a pandemic isn’t segregation but rather cooperation. Moreover, each country’s health system must be revisited. Primary health care must be a priority for our government too. Sooner or later, the storm will surpass, humanity will survive. Many of us will still live a zealous life but collective actions are much needed. Get ready for a reshaped world!

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