World is slowly getting over the global shock of the coronavirus pandemic. Rigorous measures and limitations on mobility and physical contacts are slowly dwindling away, even in the countries that were hit the hardest. Despite not having all the answers to a plethora of key questions related to the pandemic, and most probably not even knowing all the right questions in the first place, we are still adjusting to the new corona life. Adapting is part of our human nature: thanks to these skills we not only survived as species but are dominating the entire planet. At least we thought we did, prior to COVID-19.
We know so little about this strange virus. It is unclear whether it comes from animals or a conspiracy lab, how long it can survive outside of the human body, it is uncertain what the incubation period actually is, we don’t know all the ways it can spread, whether we gain immunity after surviving it, no knowledge of whether lower or higher temperature can kill it, if the vaccine is coming in a few months or years, when will the second wave be, whether it comes as a smaller wave in the summer or a hurricane in the winter… In short, we know so, so little.
The fact that many things are uncertain is also logical to an extent. This is because we have faced an entirely new challenge, on a global scale. Thanks to media surroundings at the time the pandemic happened, we suddenly all became so knowledgeable and smart on the topic, giving it a whole new dimension. The coronavirus has become practically the only topic we all talk, write and speak about. As the topic is veiled in the unknown, it is hard to discern what the truth actually is. Which in turn makes it an ideal topic for the current state of media in which we are constantly bombarded by improbable theories, assumptions and speculations. People are left to choose what to believe in, and any choice one makes cannot be labeled as right or wrong. No one can judge you, as there will always be a number of people who support your choice, share your views and share the conviction. In one word, if we haven’t contracted the media virus, the effects of the coronavirus may not have been so dangerous. What makes this combination particularly lethal is the fact that coronavirus only fuels and strengthens the media virus which is so highly contagious and prone to mutations that it effectively impairs our immunity to lies and manipulations.
Let’s have a closer look into how the majority of governments around the world have reacted to the coronavirus epidemic. At the very beginning there was a lot of fuss and outright rejections of warnings and danger, based on the “this ain’t happening here” approach. When all hell broke loose, the race for showing more “determination” in fighting the pandemic started. With no existing models and patterns to look up to, there were a lot of copy-paste restrictive measures implemented among the governments. It is particularly interesting to note that the restrictions introduced, and their intensity, varied only slightly among the different countries despite disturbingly varying degrees of pandemic onslaught.
The copy-paste continued with restrictions being lowered and cancelled, despite the fact that the numbers of individuals tested, infected and deceased has not drastically dropped or changed. It seems like it was only a matter of being on trend with what everyone else is doing.
It becomes clear that politicians in the first and the second phase had one primary goal – to fight for the support of the voters. The first phase saw the politicians explaining the cause for restrictive measures with deep concerns for the health of the nation, asking people to willingly accept and withstand the hard times in isolation. Loosening the measures was a sign of the politicians’ good will to ease the heavy burden of the people, and their understanding of hardship that everyone was going through. All of that leaves the impression that aside from doctors, epidemiologists and scientists, consultations on public health measures to be introduced and withdrawn were conducted with rating and PR agencies as well. In some countries the latter seemed to have had even a greater sway in the decision-making process.
The way in which governments of most countries and international organizations have approached the crisis caused by the spread of the coronavirus, shows that the world has faced a global leadership crisis as well, making that the most dangerous symptom of the entire pandemic. As for the COVID-19 virus itself, there is no room for panic. The therapies will be developed, treatment for the infections as well, vaccines will be designed, the spread will be halted. Until then, we must insist on application of preventive measure and caution, including the ones introduced by law. How the world will react and approach in handling the global consequences of the pandemic remains an unanswered question. The issue comes from the system itself – it is organizationally inadequate, functionally inefficient and incompetently staffed. All of these things are a cause for major concern.
Ineptitude and uselessness of the system will soon become even more evident when the world is facing an economic crisis and the looming recession. The Nobel winning economist Paul Krugman has vividly depicted the current state of affairs of the global economy by saying it looks like it is clinically dead. That patient, that is currently in the state of induced coma (to continue with the Krugman-esque imagery), is in need of complete diagnostic and wholesome therapy observed by a council of experts that will adjust the measures undertaken and make sure that certain procedures aimed at maintaining particular vital organs do not jeopardize the patient’s life. What we have at disposal is a remnant of a once competent team of doctors, with only a few experts still remaining on board, and a surplus of added volunteers, lousy students and pompous pseudo-physicians. With deteriorating health of our patient, and the quality of the medical crew around him, the game of shifting the blame on the other one will soon ensue.
Coming back to more straightforward language, it seems that we will be missing out on a common global approach to the crisis with carefully planned and balanced measures and activities to overcome the consequences of the pandemic. This will heighten the tensions, as the wedge will only become deeper, and new conflicts will soon arise.
I just hope we’ll never reach a point when the time of isolation in our homes, restrictions on mobility and physical contacts becomes the part of our memory we keep under “the good old days”…