By Niresh Eliatamby –
How did it come to this?
The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated quite conclusively that those at the helm of political systems prevalent in the world today are for the most part impotent in the face of an existential challenge such as this one.
The world’s political leaders have failed. Our species now awaits deliverance by science.
Around the world, self-serving politicians have been found lacking in scientific knowledge and sheer common sense, which are required to take logical decisions without concentrating on their own narrow-minded goals of maintaining personal power or trying to appease voters in order to be re-elected.
Those who for many months refused to take Covid-19 seriously should be hiding their faces in shame today, including U.S. President Donald Trump, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, those who run the government of Iran, and the leaders of Italy and Spain. Almost every one of them chose to forsake their nations for political expediency, resulting in critical delays in action that were fully capitalized upon by the relentless Covid-19 virus.
In the short space of three months, Covid-19 has reached 203 countries and territories around the world as at 31st March 2020. Every single nation in Europe, North America and South America are now afflicted, as are Australia and New Zealand.
If you’re looking for a place to escape to, there are still a small handful of tiny island nations in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that haven’t recorded any cases – Vanuatu, Tonga, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Yap Island, Solomon Islands, Guam, Palau, Northern Mariana islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Niue.
All that’s left in Asia are four states. You could try North Korea, which doesn’t report anything about anything; Yemen, which is being torn apart by war and has more serious problems than Covid-19; and the former Soviet states of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan that are not known for their openness in providing information.
There are also four nations in Africa that are blissfully reporting zero cases, due mainly to the fact that they don’t do much testing for Covid-19 and would thus be unaware if the disease were present there, namely South Sudan, Lesotho, Western Sahara, and Malawi. And of course, there’s still Antarctica.
Only a few highly-disciplined cultures have managed to claw back from the abyss and reduced the number of new infections dramatically, namely China, Japan and South Korea. A few other Asian nations, notably those of South Asia, have managed to keep the number of infections at minimal levels up to now.
Another fact that has been exposed has been the lack of influence of the World Health Organisation. Many countries simply don’t listen to the WHO, including the United States and many in Europe, and have yet to set in place the measures that have been recommended to prevent the spread of the disease. In fact, the WHO’s response has been less than satisfactory. It was not until 30th January, more than a month after the virus surfaced, that the disease was labelled a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’. It was not until 11th March that the WHO declared it a ‘Pandemic’, by which time 40 countries and territories in every inhabited continent had reported deaths.
The lackadaisical attitude of influential global leaders such as Trump and Johnson definitely helped the disease to spread, as many believed their assertions that Covid-19 was no more dangerous than influenza, despite the number of deaths clearly showing a mortality rate of 20-40 times that of the ‘flu. Trump’s continual denial of the facts led to horrendous decision-making and unpardonable foot-dragging that has spurred the number of cases in the United States to reach 165,000 by March 31st. The federal government has been much criticized by individual states for not responding adequately to their pleas for assistance and it was not until 29th March that a US Navy hospital ship arrived in New York to assist, by which time New York state had more than 50,000 positive cases and every single one of the 50 states was counting patients in dozens if not hundreds.
Interestingly, many Third World nations fared better with clearer decision-making. However, a glaring exception was Iran, where members of the government downplayed the seriousness of the epidemic until many of the Cabinet and parliament were themselves afflicted. The images of the Health Minister, visibly ill, announcing at a media conference that everything was hunky dory, and then admitting the following day that he was himself stricken, speaks volumes of the inaction.
And of course, China was the biggest culprit during the early days of the pandemic, when its officials ignored warnings by doctors who were treating the first patients.
On the other hand, draconian measures by some national leaders to contain the virus also resulted in critical issues for their populations, notably in India where there has been much criticism that hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the cities have been virtually abandoned to trek hundreds of miles back to their villages during a nationwide lockdown that took many by surprise.
Quite shamefully, some of the culprits who helped spread the pandemic have included leaders of various religions, including a sect in South Korea and some clerics in Iran and India, who placed religion above the welfare of their followers. And all those who professed to have miraculous healing powers have now mysteriously disappeared.
So who or what will bring deliverance for mankind from this plague? We look to science for the answers, first for treatment of those who become afflicted; and finally through the development of a vaccine to prevent the disease.
When will that happen? No one yet knows. But one thing is certain: You can’t trust the promises of politicians, some of whom have already made ludicrous pledges that a vaccine will be developed in a couple of months!