What can be done to prevent global epidemics such as coronavirus? (IV-X places) v***o@gmail.com

v***o@gmail.com

Throughout history, humanity has faced all kinds of plagues and pandemics. From the Black Death which devastated Europe in the fourteenth century, to the Spanish flu in the twentieth century, which remains the deadliest disease yet. Now, when many thought that these horror stories of quarantines and pandemics were behind us, we are facing COVID 19. And, although it is likely that we will pull through this, just as we did when faced with past diseases, we will not do so without a massive toll on both human lives, and the world economy. A toll that must, and can, be prevented or at least substantially lessened. If we are to prevent these global epidemics and truly put medieval stories of plagues behind us, we must redefine or perception and treatment of ourselves, society, and our planet.

There lives within us a curious phenomenon, an innate belief that we and those we love, are somehow immune to world disasters. Perhaps this confidence stems from the constant exposure to bad news, which seems to be normalizing the idea that while others suffer, we are doing all right. Or perhaps it is simply a refusal to accept our own mortality. We have seen this idealism again and again when faced with the coronavirus. When we saw Chinese cities quarantined, we went on with our lives, believing that this virus was just another horror story that affects someone else. When we saw it spread to Italy, we continued to have this idealistic belief. And even when the COVID 19 was at our very doorstep, in our own country (whichever it might be), some continued to go on with their lives, still convinced that they would be okay. I have heard people use a variety of excuses to justify continuing to attend populous events instead of remaining quarantined. Perhaps the most disconcerting is the one I hear the most: the belief that statistically when looking at the percentage of people who actually die from coronavirus, we will be fine. And perhaps this is true, but the problem is that when everyone says this, the math stops adding up. And so the first change that must come is an increased realization of our humanity, an acknowledgment that we too are vulnerable to diseases and death. Let’s limit our exposure to bad news so we can stop normalizing the idea that death is something that happens only to others. And, when we start looking at each of those people who suffer with the dignity they deserve, we might realize that it is only by luck and chance that we are not in their shoes and that good luck can quickly fade. Of course, this doesn’t mean we ought to live our lives in abject fear, rather let us practice more responsibility when faced with potential threats. Next time a disease starts in another country, even if it’s on the other side of the world, we should limit our contact with others to stop it’s spreading and prevent it from ever being called a pandemic.

Another disconcerting phenomenon is a lack of care for others. Coronavirus is known to be significantly more dangerous to people who are older or have some other previous ailment. I have seen younger people go about their lives without a care in the world, excusing their behavior with once again, their perceived immunity. And we fail to realize that while our actions might not be as deadly to ourselves, they put others in danger. And not only are we observing this lack of care for others, but we are starting to see purposeful evil. For example, I have watched a video of a man putting saliva on a subway rail in order to potentially get someone sick. Not only that, but some in the internet have began to call the coronavirus “the boomer remover”, thus dehumanizing all those who died from the virus and showing their lack of care for the death of the elderly. And this disrespect to those with a higher risk of getting sick only fuels the spread of this epidemic. It is thus essential that we cultivate within ourselves and others the idea that every life is worth saving and that we must do our best to save everyone, even those we don’t even know.

Finally, there is one more change that society must make: we must begin to take care of our planet. When we begin to go deeper into forests, cut more trees and desolate previously unexplored areas we will come into contact with species that we previously had minimal contact with. And because many of our epidemics come from animals, this contact might bring about new, previously unimagined sicknesses. In addition, rising global temperatures only make the world more hospitable for diseases, such as dengue fever. A study led by Derek MacFadden, from the University of Toronto’s department of medicine, found that global warming may be instrumental in the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Another study by Felipe J. Colón-González, a senior research associate at the University of East Anglia, found that by adhering to the Paris agreement, we could reduce dengue cases substantially. Thus, if we are to prevent epidemics we must start using renewable energy, liming our meat consumption, recycling and reusing all products and ultimately pressuring big corporations to begin to adopt greener agendas.

We humans must observe a radical change in our perception and treatment of ourselves, of those who surround us, and of our very planet. Our self proclaimed immunity, our disrespect for others and our irresponsibility when dealing with the planet are factors that help spread diseases and are what permit them to actually be called ‘epidemics’. And so it is up to us to treat those who suffer with the dignity they deserve, to realize that we are mortal, to respect those who surround us, to take care of our planet, and to teach our children that they, society and our planet need to be cared for.

References:
– LePan, Nicholas. “Visualizing the History of Pandemics.” Visual Capitalist, 27 Mar. 2020, http://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-of-pandemics-deadliest/.
– Healio. “Left Unchecked, Global Warming May Shape Future Epidemics.” Healio, 4 June 2018, http://www.healio.com/infectious-disease/emerging-diseases/news/online/{9fb0b2fb-218a-41bf-85b2-58a74d5b95e6}/left-unchecked-global-warming-may-shape-future-epidemics.

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