We are living in a strange world, things are happening, which have no precedence in human history. Oil prices dropped below zero, similarly interest rates dropped below zero. Fear and panic prevail all around the world. Definitely, there are deaths and toll has reached 239,614, (April, 2020) which might keep on growing with the passage of time.
But no one is paying attention that the recovery rate is also very high. So millions of people were infected and later on recovered. Although COVID-19 is highly contagious and spreading very quickly, but it is not so fatal as compared to past Pandemics which cost humankind precious lives of millions of people.
The recovery of a patient depends on his condition of health and age. Generally, speaking, young people, strong built, strong immunity, and healthy habits, are easier to recover. While, aged people, with poor health or any disease, having less immunity, weak and unhealthy habits are rather difficult to recover.
Also, the nation’s having a strong health care system, with better hospitalization facilities and modern equipment and advanced medicines are suffering a low rate of deaths. Germany is a good example to quote, which has quite a high number of infected people, but the death toll is almost one-fourth of neighboring similar countries.
COVID-19 is not something new, Pandemics are part of our history, below are some major pandemics in history:
Plague of Athens (430 to 426 BCE): During the Peloponnesian War, typhoid fever killed a quarter of the Athenian troops and a quarter of the population.
Antonine Plague (165 to 180 AD): Possibly measles or smallpox brought to the Italian peninsula by soldiers returning from the Near East, it killed a quarter of those infected, up to five million in total.
Plague of Cyprian (251–266 AD): A second outbreak of what may have been the same disease as the Antonine Plague killed 5,000 people a day in Rome.
Plague of Justinian (541 to 750 AD): The first recorded outbreak of bubonic plague started in Egypt and reached Constantinople the following spring, killing) 10,000 a day at its height, and perhaps 40% of the city’s inhabitants. The plague went on to eliminate a quarter to half the human population of the known world.
Contemporary engraving of Marseille during the Great Plague of Marseille, 1720–1721, with the heavy death toll.
Third plague pandemic (1855): Starting in China, it spread into India, where 10 million people died.
The 1918 flu pandemic infected half a billion people—around the world, including on remote Pacific islands and in the Arctic—killing 20 to 100 million.
The most recent are SARS (2002–04), MERS (2012), and Ebola (2013-16). Do we have to learn how to live with Pandemics? Every time it is sudden and different in nature and unpredictable. We need to equip ourselves to fight against any Pandemics all the time. No single country can face such huge challenges. There is a dire need to develop protocols for fighting Pandemics collectively. WHO may be strengthened further. Always, there are few nations more developed and advance, while some are less developed. Pandemics are a challenge to humankind and must be dealt with collectively, irrespective of geographical boundaries, race, religion, ethnicity, etc.
Specific to COVID-19, although, in China, Europe and America, the peak has been crossed already and the numbers of reported new cases are on the decline, but in the other countries, it is growing rapidly like Turkey, Iran, Russia, Brazil, Canada, etc.
On the one hand, we need to develop a cure and vaccine, whereas on the other hand keeping social distance, enhancing immunity, healthy food & habits. We have to learn how to live with COVID-19, as it seems, it is not going to eliminate in the very near future. We need to revolutionize everything like Industry, educational system, trade, and commerce, etc. New technologies need to be developed suitable for use under COVID-19. There is a huge space for Research and Innovation ahead. We have survived many Pandemics in past and will defeat COVID-19 too. Only the resilient nations and well prepared for unexpected situations, may survive or lead the rest of world.
Author is a Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.