The current pandemic has struck terror into the hearts of a large proportion of the world’s population, and the rising death toll in Italy and other countries illustrates the extent of the virus’s grip on humanity. Worse than a World War, Covid-19 has brought pandemonium to the world’s population and the global economy to a virtual standstill. So, what does the future hold?
Firstly, is this a wakeup call. Have we plundered and suffocated our planet to such an extent that the only way for it to survive is to thin the herd and force us to change the way we live whether we want to or not! Already scientists have estimated that the world’s air quality has improved by 30% due to reduced industrial activity. Or, is Covid-19 a primitive, yet sophisticated form of biological warfare, working on similar principles as the plague? In Medieval times infected villagers were sent to different villages to spread the virus and very much the same has happened with the coronavirus, as global travel has enabled it to spread globally with catastrophic results. It’s almost as if Dan Brown’s ‘Origins’ has come to life. There is no need for bombs, expensive armed forces. Here we have a Third World War, where no country remains untouched and, in this case, no territory violated for its natural resources but its population. The question remains, would anyone knowing release such a terror on the world in the hope that their flagging economy would become the new ascending star.
Of course, this may all be conjecture. Some think that this virus was born in a lab rather than contamination from eating bats or indeed prawns, as other sources have suggested.
A recent article in the UK press suggests that a deactivated biological weapon’s factory lies within the Wuhan province. If this is so, why was it closed, what safety precautions were taken? And what was developed within its walls? Were all the pathogens destroyed, and what remains undetected within the fabric of the building? This would not be the first time something like this happened.
On the 30th of March 1979 a technician working at a Military Industrial Complex in Sverdlovsk now Yekaterinburg researching biological weapons among other armaments, removed a vital but clogged filter from one of the exhaust outlets (these filters were the only thing protecting the outside population from the pathogens). Later, when the machinery connected to the exhaust outlet was switched on no one realised that the filter was missing. The pathogen they were working on was ‘Anthrax 836’, one of the most virulent and potent pathogens in the Soviet biological weapons arsenal and intended for use in their SS-18 ICBM warheads targeting the Western World.
Although the Anthrax leak was confined to Russia, fewer people would have travelled in the USSR in 1979. The advent of global travel since then has enabled the incident in Wuhan to become a worldwide tragedy and one where a single country may emerge as the undisputed global economic leader especially if it is already providing most of the world’s urgent medical supplies. A global shortage of ventilators is at least driving the Israeli Secret Service into checking all sources legit or otherwise. Of course, why they should want 7,000 respirators when they are reporting such low Covid-19 figures is anybody’s guess.
Furthermore, this pandemic has given rise to national and international tensions and illustrated a consequence of a global economy. Already the Iranians have blamed the Americans. Israel and Hamas are bombing the hell out of each other under the cloak of universal fear. Paranoia sets in marking the men from the boys as President Trump tries to isolate and buy up a vaccine for the US population only. Protectionism is real, and so is the fear that we are or soon will be dependent on a competitive economy. Some governments have looked weak and prevaricating as they desperately try to please all rather than taking a firm approach while others have acted quickly and with determination. We may hate restrictions, but it is better to be restricted than dead!
We should not forget that coronavirus is present in animals, and the willingness of some populations to consume anything that moves will undoubtedly unleash some unidentified horror on the world which, like any Stephen King novel, suddenly mutates and develops a hunger for humans and most probably the myriad of synthetic drugs and fast food they consume. Virus’s by nature are smart, insidious and deadly, made up of genetic material whose sole purpose in life is to cause as much misery as possible while tenaciously clinging to a Darwinism need to ‘mutate or die.’
Unfortunately, our insatiable desire to travel coupled with a global economy has enabled the virus to travel great distances as well successfully mutate and, on this occasion, has made Europe its epicentre. With such high numbers of infections and deaths in Italy and Spain, researchers are now examining human DNA as it would appear that Covid-19 virus is oddly selective. It is not only the elderly with underlying health issues who have died, and this has prompted scientists to study patient genomes for DNA variations that may explain the virus’s apparent preference for some and not others. By finding similarities, it is hoped that scientists may be able to identify those at most considerable risk, other vulnerable groups and protection for all through the emergence of a possible vaccine which a slow mutating virus may fall foul of.
Hope may be at hand as a possible cure. Ivermectin used to kill parasites in animals is said to stop the virus dead within 48 hours. In Japan, a drug called Avigan, an effective influenza drug now looks like a possible lifesaver. Just as importantly, the Japanese are offering it for free to countries who request it. Testing may be minimal, but now is not the time to pussyfoot about, and action is a necessity.
According to newspapers, there are eight strains of coronavirus, and no one strain is deadlier than the other. Its Achilles heel maybe that it mutates so slowly that it could in effect die out. The introduction of strict quarantined measures has further assisted this phenomenon. Unfortunately, a side effect of these measures has been an increase in domestic violence including murder, suicide and anti-social behaviour as human are no longer used to living as a family unit or being restricted in how we live our everyday lives.
Although the rapidly rising death toll of this pandemic is calamitous, we do need to remind ourselves that this is not the first such calamity that has affected the human population. Other pandemics have also had deadly outcomes and include:
Black Death 1346 – 1353: Decimated the world’s population from 475 million to 350 -375 million
Spanish Flu 1918: 50 million
Smallpox: 300 million died in the 20th century alone
So, in all this darkness, there is hope, albeit small glimmers. Our planet, like the children of Chernobyl, may benefit from a period where its surface and atmosphere are subject to reduced levels of pollution. Who knows how long we may be extending its life? Air quality is already improving and may continue to do so. Society may also improve. Do we need to have a pandemic to show how callous and self-seeking we are or have become, or do we need one to show how much we can support, care and love one another and our planet? Our willingness and ability to embrace changes to our lifestyles and the way we treat our planet are central to our survival.
Amid tragedy, heartbreak, sorrow and loss we are being offered a second chance, an opportunity to create a ‘Brave New World.’ A world that is ‘planet’ and not just HUMAN friendly. So instead of self-pity and selfishness, we need to think of how improvements may be made. Not a band-aid of worthless words or platitudes, but a global action plan where we learn lessons from the past, make changes and above all, make a difference to our world so that in future pandemics may be minimised and when future pandemics occur, we are better equipped to deal with them.
Because if we don’t, a little microscopic virus could kill us all!