Unity Needed to Beat COVID-19: The Sequel
One COVID carrier infected our world
It was with exacting precision and efficiency that a single person contaminated the world with the coronavirus. Reportedly infected by a bat, “patient zero” began the trail of transmission that has shown no mercy on its global march to infamy, triggering gruesome contest-like international comparisons of countries’ infection rates, mortality numbers and the availability of ventilators.
Sobering weeks and horrific death statistics later, as pressure grows from within a populace frightened by the economic freeze and suffering symptoms of mass cabin fever, the race to reopen countries is fully under-way, but at what cost?
It is clear that the unwinding of COVID-19 will require patience, knowledge, discipline, honesty, and cooperation in quantities that rival respirators for necessity, irreplaceability, and yes, scarcity. No one should envy elected officials who are asked to choose between popular demands to restore the economy and to minimize the death toll. A recent MIT study, which warns of the pratfalls of easing restrictions prematurely, is not alone in its conclusions.
According to experts, this means chances of re-infestation are virtually certain before testing is universal and a vaccine available on a mass scale. The health versus economy dialectic will, indeed, play out over our dead bodies if the return to normalcy takes place before the nations are “ready” in the scientific, not political, reading.
Imagine nation A which statistics indicate has turned the proverbial corner opening its ports before the destination countries have achieved the same level of success. It will require nothing more than a carrier from nation B to return millions to quarantine. Travel without testing remains fraught with danger.
Yet, equally tragic is the insufficiency of the third indispensable predicate: civility. Avoiding the horrors of COVID-19: The Sequel requires cooperation and coordination adequate to fight a world war with a sense of self-discipline greater than man has ever witnessed.
To be sure, the field upon which the battle will be fought is neither level nor forgiving. In the US, some politicians have demonstrated their preference for pork above the public interest. Sadly, it seems the unprecedented pain and suffering the economic crisis is inflicting is unable to move lawmakers to understand that their constituents need help today: not when sparring electees get around to it.
In Israel, which has begun to climb down from the COVID tree, tens of thousands of trained first responders were left outside the system rather than be accepted during the crisis by a rival organization at a time when volunteers were sorely needed. Arguably, unity would have saved lives.
Also in the Middle East, Palestinian officials accused Israel of spreading the infection by allowing illegal workers to go back and forth between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel responded with its own recriminations that Ramallah ignored the problem, but that’s exactly the point: The pointing fingers don’t close the holes through which the infected enter. Cooperation does.
Equalizing the level of preparedness between nations is, therefore, a prerequisite to normalization. Universal markers must be promulgated in order to ensure certainty. Rivalries must become secondary to the national/international good. Airtime is better spent educating the public than entertaining it with contrived controversies. Decency, humility and caring demand that concern for the well-being of people must be the first priority, above power and politics.
History will judge our leaders’ actions and I pray that good intentions and unselfish cooperation will lead those correct decisions. After all, to save a life is to save a world.