Insights into the Corona Pandemic with Futurity -Khaled Hossain Arman


With potential medication, the terrific havoc of Coronavirus pandemic has almost come to an end. But unlike Yuval Noah Harari, I will consider the global pandemic not as a political failure, but as the anathema of God. While relating the viral onslaught with our reality as a believer in divinity, I presume the cause of this pandemic as a coin: on one of the sides, the spread of the Coronavirus may be attributed to the failure of political figures and ministerial officials of different countries, when the reasons of the emergence of this pandemic can undoubtedly be traced in the religious scriptures on the other. Anyone believing in divine authority will regard the situation as a tribulation from God. However, the justification of this belief should be left to the extent of righteousness of the entity that different peoples believe as their God. But for now, we should give an insight to the pandemic to see how it may leave its footprints in future human civilization.
Recurrent Lockdown
The first thing that deserves an insight is the lockdown that is marked with a catastrophic socio-economic impact on the world, specially the third world countries. Countries around the world throughout the pandemic imposed lockdown recurrently due to which, according the UN Department of Economic and Social affairs report, 34 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty, 130 million more may join the rank by 2030 and the global economy may face a loss of approximately $8.5 trillion in output in the next two years, marking the sharpest contraction since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Throughout the pandemic, the report further adds, “nearly 90% of world economy has been under some form of lockdown, disrupting the supply chain, depressing consumer demand and putting millions out of work.”. According to a report by the daily Kaler Kantha, Bangladesh experienced a loss of around 850 billion taka because of economic stagnation during lockdown. Countries like Bangladesh have hardly anything to do to make up the loss, apart from managing loans from economic giants like the IMF or World Bank or other financial donor countries under conditions that may be inconvenient for the public, who, in turn, have to reimburse the loan and are already burdened with $662 loan per capita, according to the latest data published in 2019. Taking loans only and only empower the global elites, after all.
So, under this harsh reality, lockdown is a luxury for peoples like Bangladeshis, since a lot of them are already to be categorized in the list of extreme poverty and many more are waiting to join the category. Therefore, the governments of these countries can in no possible way be imprudent while imposing lockdown now and then. Again, if we look further to examine how far lockdown can be an efficacious way to control the spread of pandemic, we don’t find the result much satisfactory. Because even if the country is under severe lockdown, there still exists at least one person in each family who has to almost frequently go outside the home for something; be it family needs or his own personal exigency or jobs that are not that affected by lockdown and when he stays out of the home, no matter how much cautiousness he takes and physical distance he maintains, he is still vulnerable to the virus and in turn, makes his family members exposed to it in this process as well upon returning home. In brief, no one is safe from the virus as he may expect. How clumsy is the situation for someone who doesn’t even have his job in lockdown, but may still get affected? And, how effective is this sort of lockdown?
Instead, governments had to be practical while imposing mechanism that will seize the wheel of economy for a considerable amount of time. In the meantime of inventing a vaccine for the virus, they could have tested the antibody of people to examine who are immune to the virus and locked down only those who are not. This way, the governments might have managed to fight the virus productively; by saving lives and ensuring economic progress at the same time.
Irreversible Phenomena
This viral pandemic will go away from the lives of humankind and the death toll caused by it will soon be a history. We will conquer it with the most effective vaccine possible and with the countless flu around us, the Coronavirus may, perhaps, join them and people, in future, will simply recover from it with few antiviral medics. But whatever caused and helped the virus spread like bushfires will never come to an end, including the interests of the global elites that will remain uncompromised for ever.
In the medieval era, the Bubonic Plague, also recognized as the Black Death and caused by the gram-negative, rod-shaped and non-motile Yersinia Pestis, is claimed to have emerged from the Middle Asia around 1345-46 through the Mongolians who were the first of the peoples succumbing to the plague. Originating from the Russian steppes and making its way via the Black Sea, it took at least 7 years for the bacterium to reach Europe through rodents, along with humans. But the Coronavirus, apparently clumsier than the Yersinia Pestis, reached the four corners of the world in less than 7 months and all the credit solely goes to Globalization. But it’s among the few things that are not going to get disrupted to the extent they have impacted our lives. The idea of globalization will still have a future in the pre-Coronavirus world. There is even no obvious reason for its flow to be hampered. Moreover, it is imperative for it to stay in its place in the global economy to further promote ideas like Capitalism and Neo-liberalism.
Human Insecurity from Himself
In the 21st century, with all the technological expertise in his skull, mankind has pinnacled at such a level where he is considered by himself an animal that has become ‘god’ and named Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. In future, this Homo Deus will be immune from all types of sicknesses and no disease can potentially make him yield to death; thus turning into an ‘immortal being’. Evidently, the limited number of death by Coronavirus among the vast range of infected people is a miracle that man did through his expertise in medical science. This expertise of man is hoped to be multiplied in future which, unlike his predecessors, will help him live an extended life. But when human will afford to protect himself from chronic diseases, who will save him from himself? In a time, human may be the only self-acclaimed ‘god’ who will feel more comfort in killing himself than to be killed in the hands of nature. It is such a situation which is not even found in the ancient mythologies where we can see a number of gods available.
Physically, humans are being more and more immune to the Coronavirus, but he couldn’t stop losing his mental health which in future would cause him to die by his own hands. Where around 800,000 people die of suicide per year, the number will not decrease amidst the pandemic; rather it may rise to almost 1 million by the end of 2021. Already by the 8th of August, about 2910 people per day, a number of 640,000 people have died by suicide. It is worth concerning; because there are instances in some countries where people died more by suicide than Coronavirus. In Japan, the number of people dying of the pandemic in the whole of the year 2020 was lower than the number of people dying of suicide just in October of the year. Suicidal death in that month skyrocketed to 2153 while the death toll from January to October because of the virus was 2087. With almost a similar picture in Bangladesh, suicide claimed 70% more lives since March 2020 than the pandemic. From March of the last year to February of 2021, suicidal deaths amount to 14436, where the Coronavirus killed 8462 people and the number is 45% higher than the number in last year.
Again, among the first top ten countries yielding the highest suicidal death toll, there are at least five developed countries enlisted. While the reason for suicide in poor countries can be attributed to economic insecurity because of unemployment, what can be the cause of suicide in richer ones where people live in affluence? What triggers the people’s mind to kill themselves in such countries? With such a retrospect, one thing is, for sure, that: when we are making ourselves physically strong and viable, we are hardly paying attention to our mental health which caused us turning into a monster which is unable to accept its own existence. We are developing ourselves as such an entity that doesn’t feel comfortable with its own existence even amidst of opulence. In future, when human will potentially be subservient to machines and programs, and thus our mental health will even grow more vulnerable to what causes people to kill themselves today, the suicidal death rate may reach a new pinnacle in every year. Even though we will be immune to countless germs and pathogens, and deadly microbes wouldn’t possibly be able to kill us, we may choose suicidal death to get rid of the mental hazard we would experience.
Technologies Rendering Humans Useless
After the invasion of Coronavirus, the entire world went online. This was when we noticed a dramatic rise of E-commerce and E-education. There were even instances that judicial activities (where a cat filter popped in) and funerals took place in the virtual world. Of course, E-commerce was trending even before the pandemic, but the amount of online transaction skyrocketed to $26.7 trillion in 2021, according to a report by UNCTAD.
We can even experience the rise of drone delivery system; as according to a report by the UNICEF, 18 countries have deployed drones for delivery and transportation purposes during the Coronavirus pandemic. Some of them did it as a part of experimentation and tests, while others maintained their regular drone delivery operations. Drones have been widely used during the crisis for various purposes including collecting samples for CoVid-19 test and delivery of vaccines.
Use of such technology is undoubtedly an efficacious way of combating the virus. People can perform their actions without even appearing physically before each other and thus no face-to-face communication is made which causes the spread of pandemic the most. But the problem is, when a company will realize the true potentiality and productivity of using technologies, they will hardly be inclined to replace it with human workers later. In India, two E-food companies named Zomato and Swiggy have got the license to use drone delivery system during lockdown. Through the flying drones, these companies are able to reach their customers with hot foods far faster than their human delivery boys who lost their jobs to the drones. When the pandemic will take its leave from the world and drones are no more needed to ensure a hygienic delivery of food, the delivery boys have the bare chance to get their job back.
This is how technology will affect humankind. In the futuristic world, when machines will supersede the human capability to do anything efficiently, the latter will be replaced by the former in such jobs and works which may cause massive unemployment, which, in turn, will increase the rate of suicidal death. After all, in poor countries, unemployment tops the list of the reasons for suicide. The fact that human will be inferior to its own creatures and they will surmount him and render him useless is not auspicious for us at all. So, even if we wish to live in an era of technological upsurge, we should not adopt such technology that will leave us in the wasteland of a dystopian world. The best use of technologies could be in the instances where humans are not able to play a role.
Importance of Local Expertise in any Circumstance
In her talk in a Zoom cloud seminar CoVid-19 and World Politics premiered in April 17th, 2020 and organized by Ibn Haldun University, Dr. Heba Raouf briefly describes how the virus disarmed the states. Actually, it’s all because of the interdependency between and among countries. During the pandemic, we saw how helpless the US seemed as a consequence of massive death toll. Even their preponderant military was of no use to fight the virus. We noticed how desperate the global hegemon became to get supplies of medical equipment from Turkey and Hydroxychloroquine tablets from India. In other instance, Israel was also asking Turkey to sell them medical equipment so they can fight the virus; Turkey agreed and Israel sent it cargo plane to fetch the equipment, but it wanted to provide similar aid to the Palestinians. As Israel denied reciprocating Turkish claim, it is rumored that Turkey, in turn, denied Israeli request of medical assistance and later on Israel approval to let Turkey help Palestine, it aided Israel.
Again, we experienced a race for developing an effective vaccine run by at least 30 countries of the world who, in total, invented more than 100 vaccines. Historically, when the world is stricken by any crisis, countries like Cuba, Iran, Kazakhstan, and even Turkey would seek help from the global powers. But today, probably feeling the impact of aid politics, along with the global powers, these countries have come up with a vaccine for its people as well. As soon as China developed its vaccine, it announced that it will be helping Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia with the vaccine. Notably, these are among the countries that China is in war with on the issues of South China Sea. Deploying vaccine diplomacy, China clearly wants to procure its interest in the conflicting regions of the sea.
Another instance of vaccine diplomacy traced during the pandemic is vaccine in exchange of information. Pfizer, a prominent German pharmaceutical company and one of the pioneers of vaccine development, agreed to provide Israel with vaccines, but in exchange of information regarding the public. In future, as it is felt, monopoly of information may be proved the best of all mechanisms to control people which will increase the feeling of insecurity.
From this insight, we can take the lesson of developing local expertise in any circumstance which will help us reduce the influence of global powers’ in national and foreign policy.
Deaths that are denied
It is evident that the Coronavirus has triggered fear and anxious among us. We regret for the people who succumbed to the pandemic after a long fight. The death toll was highlighted in the mainstream media, but there are other deaths we deny. The lament for these deaths is left unsung and tears of the dead are hardly taken into account by the global elites who played a vehement important role in combating the ongoing pandemic and developing a viable vaccine.
Around 2 millions of people died of Coronavirus in 2020 which accounts to less than 5% of average deaths per year. These deaths were inevitable; even though the doctors and clinicians in the hospital tried their best, these couldn’t have been prevented. But there are others deaths we could have prevented and for which we hardly have any concern. Already more than 2.5 million of abortions took place around world by the 8th of August, HIV/AIDS caused almost 1 million of people to die, deaths by smoking amount to around 3 million, and alcohol has its share on the overall death toll this year which accounts to a minimum of 1.5 million. These are deaths that could have been prevented in one way or another.
The reason for these deaths becoming so normal is clear: morality turning subjective day by day. It is obvious that all these avoidable deaths are interlinked with our moral deviation. Governments around the world are somewhat responsible for these deaths which leave humanity unlamented and tearless. More worth concerning is the fact that in some instances, governments impose exactly zero barrier to what cause and may even help the rise of this kind of death. If we delve deeper, we may surprisingly find governments encouraging this death toll. We are trying to fight a virus to avoid death, but at the same time we are making ourselves exposed to these avoidable causes of death. How ridiculous is our cautions? What if humanity’s extinction is triggered by this conscious-unawareness?
The Arrival of Some New Pathogens?
As mentioned before, with a viable vaccination of the people, Coronavirus will lose its place in the world. It will no longer be a matter of panic for us. But the biggest lesson we have to take from the pandemic is to fathom how it jeopardize our lives and try to ascertain that no feasible viral attack will happen again.
In May 4, 2017, BBC published a report by Jasmin Fox-Skelly under the headline There are diseases hidden in the ice, and they are waking up. In that report, Ms. Fox-Skelly told us about at least seven new viruses that are waiting to be revived in the Siberian permafrost. Almost all of them may cause another pandemic in very recent times, since the ice is melting because of global warming, which will bend humanity again on its knee. Few of the pathogens are already taken to the laboratory with the purpose of experiment and one of them, the Anthrax virus, prior to revival from the tundra, massacred more than one million reindeer in the early 20th century alone. Buried close to the surfaced and scattered among 7000 burial grounds in northern Russia, it killed one boy and infected 20 more people after it was revived due to the melting of the permafrost. The reporter fears that this will not be an isolated case, rather the melting ice can open a Pandora’s box of diseases.
The global elites should take the potential arrival of these new pathogens into account. They must be aware of the danger they carry with them and immediately put them into the lab in order to invent vaccines for them even before they invade. Because no knows when and how nature will demonstrate its hostility against us. We must act beforehand not to disrupt the happiness of our existence in the globe. n