The Pandemic and its Impact Globally by Vick Krishnan Barrister Parliamentary Society Council Member
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
There is no denying that the coronavirus pandemic has engulfed the nations of the world in a way never experienced before. This no doubt has had a global impact and has in reality altered the pace, fabric and nature of our lives to say the least. This short article aims to reflect on the lasting global impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
As Albert Camus opined in ‘The Plague’,
“Pestilence is in fact very common, but we find it hard to believe in a pestilence when it descends upon us. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”
When we look back we can only wonder in amazement at how quickly it hit us. This perhaps is one of the most common sentiments about the Covid-19 pandemic. We were all completely caught off guard in one way or another; in an instant, an obscure outbreak of pneumonia in an exotic foreign locale - in the next, a viral outbreak jumping from China to the heart of Italy, then to all of Europe, on to America - finally a plague that stopped the world. As the pandemic hit all countries of the globe, it became indisputably clear that everyone was connected - united against a viral scourge.
Again, in some ways, nature has prepared us (unsuspectingly, of course!) for what was to come! Despite the shock, there were plenty of warning signs. Since the beginning of the 21st century, recurring outbreaks and epidemics presaged what was coming - there was the first SARS outbreak in 2003, H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009, MERS coronavirus in 2011, Ebola in 2014−16; mosquito-borne Zika in 2016.
The startling reality as we now realise is that International cooperation and a unified strategy of pandemic preparedness were not a priority when it all began. In the end, there was no united response - a global leadership void painfully revealed at a moment when it was most needed. What resulted was an international cacophony of last moment efforts, strategies and opinions to suppress the viral pandemic - after it was already upon the world.
Politically, all over the world, public and private funders across the globe seem to have (now) launched an unprecedented number of initiatives to support multidisciplinary projects addressing the detection, treatment and prevention of SARS-CoV2 infections. Most of the calls encourage collaboration between international scientists, industry, healthcare community, and government policy makers, to facilitate a well-integrated COVID-19 response. The dramatic effects of COVID-19 outbreak taught us that similar pandemics cannot be managed solely at the national level.
It has to be said in the same context, it has been remarkable how research groups and companies from all over the world have been “repurposing” equipment, facilities and product lines in a joint effort for a rapid response against the ongoing pandemic. Hence it was a joint effort from an economic and political perspective to ensure that efforts are put in place at a national, regional and global level to combat this dastardly virus.
As the pandemic spread throughout the world, countries took drastic measures to protect their citizens. These measures focused on achieving a fragile balance between limiting virus spread from person to person and maintaining economic activity. As we have seen, it seems to be an impossible balance, although the timing of the implementation of these measures proved to be crucial, both for public health and SARS-CoV2 spread, as well as the economic impact on each country. Early lockdown and strict enforcement were seen to be the most effective strategies available to most countries.
With respect to the United Kingdom, rather than impose a lockdown of its population, the UK initially followed a mitigation strategy to build population immunity but abandoned this plan after realizing it would result in ‘hundreds of thousands of deaths,’. Despite ongoing restrictions in the UK, the number of cases continues to rise, the death rate is the highest in Europe and the curve of infections has yet to plateau – a reflection of the lag time before the start of the lockdown.
The sad thing is that, “Many continued hoping that the epidemic would soon die out and they and their families be spared. Thus, they felt under no obligation to make any change in their habits, as yet. Plague was an unwelcome visitant, bound to take its leave one day as unexpectedly as it had come.”
However, reality had a different plan altogether. What we need is an up-liftment of spirits on a massive scale having endured the adverse effects of the pandemic for almost nine months now.
Both I the UK and the world over, we are faced with the daily news of death and economic devastation caused by this uncontrollable ‘bully’ and people all over are desperate for some positive news of the beginning of the end of this deadly virus… The hope of a vaccine is still far from our grip as it appears…
Economic and political recession are but two consequences of this tragic and deadly virus. Psychological impact, social divide, growing mental or social health issues are examples of others.
Despite widespread measures adopted by governments facing the pandemic crisis such as social distancing, country-wide lockdown, and restriction of traffic, numerous constitutionalists have argued that such measures violate human rights, as freedom of movement is a fundamental right directly linked to human nature. However, international human rights law does recognize that during serious public health threats and public emergencies that threaten the life of a nation, restrictions on some rights can be justified.
However, the other side of the coin (the positive impact!) is that the massive shutdown of industry, business, global travel, farming and personal movement produced an unanticipated beneficial effect on the environment. All over the world, the levels of air pollution dropped, there was a marked reduction in carbon emissions, cleaner air to breathe and an obvious decrease in emissions globally. It’s like nature decided to take matters into its own hands.
The stark reality is that the pandemic continues. Going forward, it is not clear whether the virus will continue to smoulder and ignite in different global regions, or perhaps retreat, only to return to new peaks in time to come. What we do know is that it does not seem to be going away anytime soon, and, experts predict that it will probably be with us for the next two years.
Continuous efforts at an individual, societal, regional and national level must subsist if we are to win against the pandemic. Let us begin each day with prayers and gratitude and a sincere wish to mother nature that she takes things back into control and bestows global peace and well-being to all in her custody.