The Battle Against COVID-19, What Are We Missing?

The Battle Against COVID-19, What Are We Missing?

In the era of globalization, where hours were simulating seconds, there comes 31st Dec, 2020 when china reported its cluster of COVID 19 pneumonia cases in Wuhan which, within months, was coined a pandemic. The total number of confirmed cases in Pakistan are 102,000 as of June 9, 2020. The death toll has reached 2172 and this imparts a major restraint on our current healthcare resources. Though we all are facing financial worries as a whole due to COVID-19 but the impact of this is far more in developing countries.

According to calculations of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE),

Around 20 million to 70 million population of the country could fall below the poverty line in the current perspective.

PIDE

The need of hour to overcome these issues is quite simply, Global leadership. There is a general lack of solidarity among and within nations. Global and national solidarity is missing as far as the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) is concerned. Based on my experiences, the virus is a sworn enemy that has liquidated thousands of lives since December, 2019 and is still running on the same path to annihilate the existence of humanity worldwide.

Today humanity is suffering from an acute crisis not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also due to dearth of harmony and unity among individuals. To get the better of a pandemic, people need to place their trust in scientists, nations require faith in their leaders and the running header is global unification.

In the past few years, since the world was quite simply run politicians, they maxed out the countries budget and the healthcare system and patients are paying the price today. While this opinion is open to debate, Pakistan lacks trust in science and coordination not only at a national but also an international level.PPP

Lookin at Pakistan, the pandemic is expanding rapidly, however, there are debates among people from all walks of life in the country debating whether the virus is a hoax. Prime Minister Imran Khan said on 10th April, 2020,

“The COVID-19 war can only be won through national unity.”

Prime Minister, Pakistan

Some may propose that our politicians are dwelling on criticizing more so than working as a nation. On 12th May, 2020, PPP Senator Sherry Redman said,

I want to talk about missing persons today. That missing person is the Prime Minister. He is missing, his policy is missing. His words of unity are missing.

In response Shah Mahmoud Qurush responded and said,

Prime Minister is in Islamabad working against the virus.

Now when we come to the general public of Pakistan, the situation is pretty similar to the politicians. While the response may be worth praising for some of the members of the nation, the naysayers may spoil the efforts that earnest healthcare and essential workers are making to keep us all at bay during this time.

Clearly, any virus does not discriminate. However, there are some who are creating faith discriminations among people. Some referred to SARS-CoV-2 as a “Shia Virus” and some refused to give ration bags to Hindus and christinas. Chairman of the Hindu Youth Council reported that members of a renowned Salami Welfare Trust refused distribution to Hindus. He states,

When they saw our CNIC, they refused to give ration bags, saying it is not for Hindus

Chairman, Hindu Youth Council

The muslim nation may look at contributions of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). They may not be similar to the effects we have in motion today and there were no organizational policies. But the mindset of the volunteers working durint that time is where we need to adapt our current actions. As far as Muslim molanas are concerned, the track record dictates that they motivated people to pray in congregation. All conferences and sermons were held at mosques during the initial peak of coronavirus in Pakistan. Asif Ashraf Jalil writes,

We shall hold the All Pakistak Sunni conference in Lahore on 21 May. No one will get sick expect as Allah wills. If anyone will ger infected due to our conference, the Pakistani government can hang me.

Asif Ashraf Jalil

When we look at the United States, the country played its role as a global leader in the past few epidemics and pandemics. This includes Ebola in 2014, and the US also helped third world countries during their financial crisis, but today the shoe is on the other foot. The present US authorities has declared that they will be keeping their hands off from the World Health Organization (WHO) while stating that WHO did not contain the pandemic in time by concealing the news from the outset.

WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom very modestly proposed his rejoinder to the assertion of Donald Trump, US President, against World Health Organization (WHO) by saying,

Do not use this virus as an opportunity to fight against each other or score political points. It is dangerous. Because I know what poverty means, what war means, I know what killer diseases mean. This is a devil that everybody should fight, and for that we need global solidarity, cemented in national unity.

Director, WHO

Today almost every country in the world is closing its borders creating a misconception among the public that COVID-19 is spread to them from other nationalities and hence people of one nation are stigmatizing the public of the other. Epidemics and Pandemics occurred in the past too, even in the times when airplanes and ships were not known. This happened in the 14th century when Black Death escalated into a full-scale riot and killed the inhabitants of Eurasia, England and many more countries.

History speaks a thousand times that giving out copper-bottomed information relevant to the pandemic and global unification is the need of the hour in order to rein in the pandemic. This is to be noted that other countries should also lend a hand towards the victims instead of leaving them out in the cold.

Pandemics have created roots of xenophobia in the past. As in 1918, the Spanish flu was initially termed as “German Flu.” Today, the Chinese are being blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic. Electronic Media of several countries and the American President have called it the Wuhan or Chinese virus.

At Present, it is being illustrated by some blacksheeps that China is the evil-doer. It allegedly created the virus in the laboratory and let it spread worldwide as a bioweapon in order to get ahold of the world. Though the arguments seems silly, this idea has been imprinted in the minds of many individuals globally.

A bar in Rome banned people of Chinese descent

In western countries ,where mortalities from COVID 19 are at a peak and where a lot of people from China used to migrate to as foreigners every year, racial disparities are prominen. Le Republican published an image of a café in Rome with a sign saying “All People coming from China are banned.”

China is progressing continuously in every walk of life from domestic artworks to the latest technologies. As a truly advancing nation, qhy will it let the COVID-19 pandemic ruin its status? One of the inevitable impact of all this is xenophobia. Even Members of BJP party of India, which embraces Hindu nationalism, have openly blamed Muslims for the spread of the virus.

Thanks to WHO, which avoided stigmatizing this disease, this new plague is not the “Chinese Flu” or “Pangolin Flu.” It is rather a mundane COVID-19. As said by a WHO representative,

“We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people and which is also pronounceable and related to disease. Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks”

WHO Representative

Highlighting this fact, the world should realize that whenever there occurs an epidemic in any part of world, it poses threats to humankind. The reason being a simple scientific concept that like us, the genetic makeup of everyone can undergo mutation that can evolve and modify its features. This occurs in viruses too. It happens daily but the problem arises when the mutation modifies a virus such that its adaptability towards humans increases and this is what happened in the previous epidemics. The coronavirus used to live in bats normally but a mutant strain of it is developed which is more adaptable to humans hence difficult to contain and easy to spread. This is just not a philosophy but this has been reported by Richard Peterson in his book “Richard Peterson’s Crisis in the Red Zone” portraying how Ebola turned from a rare disease to an expanding disaster.

Somewhat similar mutations might had happened in the coronavirus or might be happening. We as humans have an instinct and a habit of life interest and that’s where we are all united i.e. “WE ALL LIVE TO LIVE.” This interest demands us to not give coronavirus an opportunity to thrive. In short we need to safeguard every human being regardless of their nationality. As we defeated smallpox in 1970 by vaccinating all nations rather than leaving a single group to help the virus reemerge.

The modern health care system is far more equipped than facilities available in previous epidemics and pandemics but the point to consider is that the distribution of these modern health facilities are not as uniform as they must be. Several third world countries do not have basic health facilities.

Indian Occupied Kashmir is also suffering from COVID 19 right now. PM Imran Khan tweeted on 21 April,2020,

Demonstrations in various parts of the world are now going on against lockdowns during a pandemic-despite provision of medical, financial, communication or food assistance. Perhaps now int community can understand the sufferings of Kashmiris in IOJK as they suffer brutal oppression.

PM Imran Khan

The world must turn its eyes towards neighbouring countries too. The most important thing is to have a sense of responsibility, commitment, and concern for each of our fellow human beings. Our aims and objectives of living are somehow interrelated and we must understand that “We need to unite in order to stand against current pandemic.

Dr. Michael McBride highlighted,

Viruses don’t recognize boundaries or borders.

Dr. Michael McBrid

The 14th Dalai Lama said,

As human beings, we are all the same. We experience the same fears, the same hopes, the same uncertainties, yet we are also united by a desire for happiness. Our human capacity to reason and to see things realistically and clearly give us the ability to transform hardship into opportunity.

When we cast a glance on past incidents, many countries united to fight against terrorism under the leadership of United Nation. Rightly stating, this biological weapon is far more dreadful to the economical, political and social interests of all countries as compared to terrorism hence the strategies should be planned at a global level with coordination among all the countries so that the upheaval of global economy and politics might be prevented.

Although Pakistan lacks a foolproof plan, there have been active efforts by the Government to promote unity at both a national and international level. Army Chief- Gen. Bajwa enforced the need of unity by saying,

We must rise-and rise together-irrespective of caste,colour,creed and religion fighthing as one nation.The task at hand is daunting…we have overcome difficult situations before. This time the challenge is entirely different.

Army Chief Gen. Bajwa

Pakistan has possibly set a practical example of global solidarity. In the beginning when China was mainly countering the virus, 19,7000 surgical masks were donated to China. Moreover Pakistani President Arif Alvi expressed unity with china and visited China in March 2020.

Recently Pakistan also sent an aid comprising surgical masks and protective suits to the US. The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeoo tweeted,

Appreciate to Pakistan’s goodwill donation of surgical masks and protective suits to @FEMA2.This delivery is a symbol of US-Pakistan solidarity in the fight against COVID-19.

Mike Pompeoo

We cannot live wituout predation in the current atmosphere. No doubt, efforts made by us after promoting unity is a pressing priority. As someone may have wisely said, when humans squabble – viruses double. Now we should let the virus squabble and humans double- double in power, in unity; in global solidarity.

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Post by: Sundas Irshad

Sundas is a fourth year student at Fatima Jinnah Medical University.
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