Covid-19: Did we learn from the past at all?

Corona is yet on raging and scientist are uncertain if they are going to stop it, we have time to revamp our existing inadequacy and adopt extreme steps.

On March 11, world health organization declared “Corona” a pandemic, urging countries of the world to take coherent and all-encompassing actions to restrain by now a swelled up havoc. WHO named it covid-19, an acronym of Corona Virus Disease of 2019, patently an attempt to avoid referring to a specific geographic location, an animal, or people. Covid-19 reported having emerged in china, sweeping around the globe, communicating disease to more than 303,000 people while killing 12,944, according to the latest news. Earlier China and now Europe is believed to be the epicentre of the deadly virus. Pakistan, in addition, is being feared to follow the fate of those unfortunate countries in Europe. Looking at covid-19 one thing is palpable that we didn’t learn from the history.

History plays a significant role in shaping and reforming society. In other words, it’s a window to the past making sense of our current world. Amidst Covid-19 one question that’s being ignored on purpose, did we learn from our history at all? Blunders that we committed in the past have seen any reformation in the present? If yes, then why in the presence of an invincible technology and power, humans are coming out helpless before a tiny virus? If not, where did we miss our opportunity to overhaul our fault lines? Let’s open the mirror to our past.

History a window to the past, plays a significant role in shaping and reforming societies while on other hands making sense of the current world.

Looking back we read about another but an identical virus to covid-19, SARS severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS virus was identified in 2003, which first infected was human in the Guangdong province of southern China in 2002, this epidemic of SARS affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8000 cases in 2003. Response towards SARS was not different than of the present. Similar strategies were recommended and implemented. Given fast-spreading nature of the SARS, scientists and professional doctors and clinicians rushed to scientific laboratories to develop a cure, a vaccine for the deadly virus. However before they could develop a vaccine, the virus disappeared miraculously and to not squander money on a vanished issue, world directed its concern to more important subjects. Today, the emergence of covid-19 dragged us back to where we left, without resolving what we should have unravelled that time. Comparing both cases it turns out oblivious that we have learned nothing from the past.

The covid-19 and the SARS of 2003 have two things in common: Both are from the coronavirus family, and both most likely started in china’s wet markets. At such markets, different pets and wild animals are kept in tied proximity. People and live and dead animals stay in close contact. Sometimes vendors would slaughter animals just in the mid of way spilling blood, pus, intestine and whatnot, all over the place. That makes it easy for zoonotic spillover, virus jumping from one animal to others and ending up in the human body. In the case of SARS and COVID-19, bats were the original hosts. The bats then infected another animal, pangolin according to some studies, which transmitted the disease to humans. Even if wet markets feed only a small portion of Chines people government never took serious measure to protect the majority from the menace of minority bringing in the shape of the virus.

Covid-19 and SARs have two things in common, both belong to the same family, and both most likely started from the wet market, probably a Zoonotic Spillover.

Despite the fact that SARS became aware of months before March 2003, China failed to report it to WHO, over the next several months, 8,000 people in 26 countries contacted the virus, leading to 774 deaths. China blamed it on the complicated nature of the virus giving an impression of a common pneumonia, But In April 2003, Time magazine claimed to have obtained a letter from Jiang Yanyong, a physician in Beijing, alleging China for covering the actual number of SARS cases. This turned out to be true, and Chinese officials released the actual numbers that month. Had china informed WHO soon after it encountered the first case, according to the researchers the harm to the world could have been condensed. China adamant not to learn from the past repeated the whole scenario. According to BBC, Doctor Li, a Chines doctor who tried to issue the first warning about the deadly virus was summoned by public security bureau where he was asked to sign a letter confessing about “Spreading false information” and “Causing panic” among people. If doctor Li was taken serious straight away, would we have witnessed another chaos?

Amidst SARS outbreak in 2003, although the fact that China was reluctant to admit its oversight to report WHO on time, a sensible response by WHO helped in containing the tremendous outbreak of virus to a great extent, Isolation and lockdowns were applied far and wide, nevertheless, scientists were asked to develop a vaccine against the fatal virus. Numerous companies came out to finance the development of vaccine; however, the decline in infected cases dispirited officials from following the progress and resultantly they headed their energy towards other mounting problems. Here, the ugly face of capitalism cannot be avoided perhaps; even the health sector looked for personal benefit.

An epidemic that turned into pandemic only because officials were not informed timely eventually has been put back into the bottle. Last Saturday Wuhan didn’t report any new case of the infection. Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom appreciated China’s tremendous efforts to protect her people from a massive catastrophe. Coronavirus spreads from human-to-human interaction. Its diffusion can’t be stopped but through care and precautions, it can be slowed down. China chased the same. She locked down main supposed cities, suspended national and international flights and maintained authoritarian quarantine. As a result, controlling a mass spread that could have spilt over to her entire country. Still, there were loopholes that let spread the virus on a global level.

Watching Humans and their interaction with environment, Zoonotic spillover is totally predictable. But how we response to those pandemic is what that matters the most.

And then there is a petite country that actually learned from the SARS’ experience. On 16 January, South Korea found out about the virus in China, directed her labs to work to curtail the spread of the virus; within days, detection kits were developed. Later, she called up existing governmental departments, for instance, health, welfare and foreign affairs, regional municipalities to assist the government in implementing its preparation; thus, effectively controlling the mortality rate of the nation while dropping panic on another hand.

Watching humans and their interaction with wildlife animals and environment, zoonotic spillover of corona or any other virus is totally predictable. Very few have been discovered while others remain to be unearthed. However, it’s our incognizant of the history that in spite of having developed economies and advanced technology we still find it almost impossible to deal with microorganisms. In a pandemic outbreak, not just societies suffer but even economies collapse which makes it indispensable for nations to take collective steps whatever comes at their disposal. Fearing loopholes or weaknesses in the system can exacerbate an enduring issue. Slow and steady response could not just infect the whole society but can advance to nosocomial infection, overwhelming medical sectors ultimately bringing whole nations to kneel. Corona is yet on raging and scientist are uncertain if they are going to stop it, nevertheless we have time to revamp our existing inadequacy and adopt extreme steps to put a halt to contemporary spread while blocking for others to surface. 

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