Chris Odinaka Nwedo
The world today is intensely challenged, a challenge that is robustly challenging the inventiveness and invincibility of man. This vigorous challenge is a painstaking search for effective means of refraining ruinous rampages of a coronavirus. The virus has given an impression of something absolutely prepared to demystify the ingenuity of man. A virus that unilaterally declared mortal war against humanity, and on vicious stride to infect and murder people indiscriminately and beyond borders. This virus appeared to be on a distinct mission to denigrate humanity.
The scientists, the religious, the political, the economists, the boastful and skeptics are puzzled, dared and seemed endlessly helpless in the face of the complex challenges the virus has posed. As the novel Covid-19 continues to spread with vicious swiftness throughout the world, it leaves trails of terror, disruptions, death and desperation. Invasion of the world by viruses is never is new. There are boundless chronicles of these invasions in the past. Some confined themselves geographically while some obstinately ran continents at once spreading fatal ‘venoms’ among these were poliomyelitis, Ebola, the coronaviruses that cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) many of these viruses have become completely paused and annihilated due to inventiveness or creativity of man.
In fact humanity has seen viruses but Covid-19 is daring and exceptional. Part of the exceptionality is that an “infected people are unknowingly spreading the virus days before they begin to experience symptoms. Some may not experience symptoms at all. Neither SARS nor MERS spread as easily or widely. Covid-19 “is capable of causing very severe disease.1
Covid-19 “is a virus that has never been seen in humans, so absolutely no one is immune to it. This is in addition to the fact that it spreads easily from person to person as influenza, and infects the upper respiratory system, that what makes it so dangerous. And lack of vaccine compounded the complexity.2 Getting the advancement of the infections halted is a new and active challenge to man. This is a challenge potent in effect and very different from the regular challenges the world and her people are accustomed to and can predict victory date almost with precision. It is not difficult to determine the strength of the challenges of Covid-19 by evidences of death tolls directly linked to the infection. As at today we have close to 13 million infections and more than 500 thousand fatalities spreading over 216 countries.
On a macro levels, national and international borders are closed while expectations and plans are chattered, economies are devastated, religious, political and social activities have faced either stopped or heavily supervised to limit participation. Summarily, Covid-19 is kneeling on the neck of humanity to suffocate it. In the hotspots round the globe, people are groaning in pains of the malaise and deprivations associated with the futile endeavour at containment of the virus. The deprivations are in many ways extraordinary, ponder the desolations of lockdowns and restrictions. Discomforting lockdowns and restrictions were founded on the assumption that limiting human traffic reduces spread and infection as “the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air, and quickly fall on floors or surfaces. One can be infected by breathing in the virus if he or she is within close proximity of someone who is infected, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touch the eyes, nose or mouth3. More evidence is emerging that transmission from humans to animals is occurring, namely to felines (including tigers), dogs and minks.4
“Obesity and other chronic conditions — such as high blood pressure, diabetes and underlying heart, lung and kidney disease — increase the risk of severe infection. The prevalence of these diseases among older people, who may lack strength owing to aging and the inability of some people with dementia to relate the symptoms they are experiencing, add to the devastating impact the virus is having in nursing and care homes. Gender is another risk factor for COVID-19. Men are dying at higher rates than women. While doctors do not yet know why, research has shown similar patterns of cytokine overreactions based on age and gender with other coronaviruses.5 Even when experts say that covid-19 is not the most contagious, there seemed to be an inclination to consider it significantly treacherous. According to Prof. Michael J. Buchmeier “this virus, while deadly, is thought to be about as contagious as the seasonal flu, with one person infecting another two or three. Contrast that with measles, where one person can infect 18, or chicken pox, where one person can infect 12. But these two highly contagious diseases are controlled by vaccination.6
So far the global response to the ravages of the covid-19 has been largely sketchy as the virus is unrestrained in a sense. Researchers, drugs industries, governments and research institutions have not relented in diligent efforts to halt and eliminate the virus by developing effective vaccine. There were covert efforts by research institutes carrying out trials to share their data with a view to speeding up scientific discovery and implementation of solutions. With faith in God and smartness of man there is a brightening light at the dark tunnel with the ongoing trails for “potential therapeutics: hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir, remdesivir and dexamethasone. There are more trials to test antivirals, immunomodulatory drugs and anti-thrombotic agents, as well as combination therapies, at different stages of the disease.7 At the beginning of this month, July, teams of researchers and medical experts in partnerships with World Health Organisation “analyzed 15 vaccine trial designs from different developers, and set criteria for conducting robust trials to assess safety and efficacy of vaccine candidates. The use of a global, multi country, adaptive trial design, with a common DSMB, and clear criteria to advance candidates through the various stages of trials was also discussed.8
The objectives of this reflection is not on deep and detailed scientific and technical issues of Covid-19 but it is in redistribution of information understandable and useable by vast majority of people outside the clubs of experts and medical technicians. I am never going to dissipate the time contesting whether Covid-19 exists or not because such argument remains ceaselessly nonsensical. Moreover, the fact that this reflection rises and falls on the virus is an affirmation that it exists. Again the frantic efforts to contain the spread of it demonstrated that the virus is potent and out there for real damages. The main object of this endeavour is cursory reviews of what it is like living in terror, death and damages of Covid-19. I am also considering the knowledge gained in the excruciating experience.
Life in the regime of Covid-19 suggests living in prison in view of many restrictions against the spread and infection. For many months now countries, states and council areas imposed on themselves lockdowns of varied degrees subject to spread and rapidity of the virus infection. The lockdowns have profound negative impact on economies on macro and micro levels. The ban placed on movement demobilized businesses and the implications of this demobilization rippled, extinguishing industrial productivity and services as workers were ‘chained’ forbidden access to their factories and many working tools that are impossible to manage remotely. With the fatality rate above 500,000 thousand and more than 13 million persons actively sick, global work-forces confront intense catastrophes. In fact, “the rapid outbreak of the COVID-19 presented an alarming health crisis that the world is grappling with. In addition to the human impact, there is also significant economic, business and commercial disruption felt globally. As viruses know no borders, the impacts will continue to spread. In fact, 94 percent of the Fortune 1000 across the globe, and businesses have been impacted and are already seeing COVID-19 disruptions.9
Restrictions on movements invalidated some businesses and dried-up circulation of goods and services as many companies became insolvent and closed due to suffocations relative to the coronavirus. The laying off of millions of workers is necessarily connected to closure of industries, production lines and services. “People and goods are the lifeblood of all businesses and disruption of these flows, even for a short period, can have a rapid and severe impact on the immediate condition of a business.10 Agricultural businesses, products and industries were disproportionately hit and many former bustling agro allied groups are today in partial ruins. In many nations and indeed Nigeria, “the lockdown of the major cities and the current foreign exchange devaluation due to drop in crude oil prices, arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted all sectors in Nigeria. The impact on fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) has been mixed as players in Food and Beverage and Pharmaceuticals have been deemed as providers of essential products and services that are allowed to continue operations during the crisis.11
Again, ban on transnational movements displaced and locked away millions of people in unfamiliar terrain, drained of resources and stranded as the victims groan under torturing incapacity to return to base, families and work. In the beginning of July, European Union announced de-listing of about 54 countries from entering the Union as part of measures to limit spreading of Covid-19. It is frustrating that for about 5 months countries all over the globe abruptly closed all academic activities in schools while students were compulsorily ordered out. The development culminated in cancellations of important examinations and indefinite deferment of graduation dates. The agony of these to the parents are complicated further by the literal abandonment of these vulnerable populations idle and subject to all manners of influences. The expectation is that the Covid-19 threat will eventually fade, as the Ebola, Zika, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) viruses have in recent years. However, social-economic impact will still be felt long after the virus faded.12
‘Social distancing’ concepts came with an idea of ‘staying safe’. This essentially implied prohibition of all habitual coming together of groups and or associations. We see political activities such as meetings, campaigns, advocacies, mobilizations and elections indefinitely stopped. Social activities such associations, clubs, civil society activism etc have oxygen removed from them by ban placed to them to cease activity. Cultural activities such as marriages, burials and other culture based ceremonies have been injuriously restricted as responses to the terrorizing infections of Covid-19.
The fall out of these restrictions on the home front is the unhealthy stories of shouting matches and domestic violence arising from sudden pauperization of many bread winners. “The Covid-19 impacted the purchasing power of consumers in the short and midterm. There has been an increased demand arising from panic buying of essential items at the expense of nonessential. While it is expected that the economy will fully reopen within the year, based on experiences in other countries such as China, there is a risk that the recovery in discretionary spending is likely to be slow. The increased demand for essential goods has resulted in a price spike.13 Many bread winners are irredeemable victims of the astronomical price rise. The biggest straw that collapsed and demobilized the horse is the prohibition of gatherings on religious grounds.
The lessons of the Coronavirus
An objective assessment of the effects of Covid-19 need not end in the discussions of the denigration alone. Acknowledged, the virus regime is a wholesale universal damages yet it presented unexpected opportunities for continuous lesson on proper planning and the rejigging of systems governments in relation to economy, politics, education and health. Individual businesses and organization have been challenged to design or redesign alternative methods of production, distributions of products and services.
The disruptions in the economy, the endless chronicles of failed businesses, closed factories, production lines and laying off of millions of workers demonstrated that no economy is insulated from disaster in absence of proper planning. Nations ruled by deficient politicians are in deep mess for the indiscretion. The abjectly poor management of the crisis, the people and the economy exposed the rulers and offered the citizens prospects of questioning the legitimacy of the incompetents. Nigeria economy was forced to contract with reduced demand for oil abroad, thus the currency is weakened unable to withstand a preponderant negative impact on it due to inflow interruptions. This development forced the currency to capitulate jettisoning the values. This is similar story for all economies managed improperly. “The most significant change during and after the Covid-19 crisis will be the surge in e-commerce. Consequently, there will be a need for organisations to maximise e-commerce potential and logistics.14 This change should be considered positive.
On the health front, the Coronavirus demystified the claims of super health institutions and services by some countries. With more than 100, 000 fatalities in United States of America and more than 400,000 in Europe and elsewhere, the world is confronted with stubborn facts that much needed to be down to upgrade global health institutions. Technologically evolving nations have now significant chances of learning from the failures of the so called super powers. The needs to rebuild their hospitals and make them efficient are super imperative because there may be nowhere for their rulers to go for proper health services in times of emergency. Covid-19 taught treacherous rulers and unscrupulous politicians that life can be so short, and that fraudulent wealth is both oppressive and self-imposed torture. The Covid-19 regime is replete with profound moral lessons.
On the side of religion, the lesson is priceless. The boastful ‘men of God’ who claim solutions to everything are facing demystification. The men feeding their followers with empty spoon have an unsolicited opportunities learn more about God and His ways if obstinate pride can give them permission. The globe is choke-filled with cacophony of teachings that are drying up people’s faith in God. The way these smart folks equated themselves with God is problematic. I think God has shown that He is beyond the pranks of some religious con men. It became clear and understood again that we can pray and be heard by God even at home if we pray faithfully. The Church teaches this but the ‘new men of God’ say the opposite. The Church teaches that the family is a micro Christian community but the ‘men of God’ present contradictory version. Many families divided by denominational fault-lines are now wiser, united and praying together as family because the separating church doors are closed so are polarizing influences of the deceitful religious.
‘Social distancing’ discouraged unhealthy associations that distanced many imprudent men and women from home while unnecessary and wasteful ceremonies were forced to be curtailed due to severe law against mass gathering. The chastising punishment against the violation of social distancing legislation has accidental benefits of limiting unwholesome social gathering and behaviours. Under Covid-19 dictatorial regime, you can only be safe at home. Brethren, I say to you stay home to be safe.
- Why is COVID-19 so dangerous? inhttps://www.ucihealth.org/blog/2020/04/why-is-covid19-so-dangerous
- Why is COVID-19 so dangerous? Op.cit.