Pandemic: Occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population. Currently, COVID-19 is one of the Global Pandemics that is spreading mayhem around the world.
As of April, 7th 2020, WHO reports a total of 1,282,931 people have been infected and with 72,774 confirmed deaths. This has led the leaders to take extreme measures to contain the spread. However, it doesn’t appear that the situation is getting any better.
A mandatory lockdown has proven to be effective so far but we may be beyond containment. Virologists, immunologists, and epidemiologists over the world are struggling to find a breakthrough in understanding the virus. It is novel and we lack the knowledge to defeat it.
We are probably 2 years (best case scenario) away from developing a vaccine to put an end to this. After the world struggled to deal with SARS and MERS, reputed scientists published studies pointing towards a possible outbreak.
Those incidents should have better equipped us with enough equipment, medical facilities and more importantly a vaccine. In spite of the information available, we simply failed to act in time.
VOX published an article, after reaching out to various experts in the field in the quest to find out how we can put an end to this. What they concluded after getting uncomfortable answers is that this is probably going to be endemic.
Now that potentially means we are going to live with the infection for a long time. Our bodies develop the immunity to fight it or we come to accept these staggering numbers as an acceptable figure.
What other Global Pandemics are there?
A key factor of global pandemics is its ability to quickly spread and transmit. Does that mean that we won’t be too concerned with the numbers if there’s no spread or transmission?
This virus is an unprecedented enemy that we all have to fight it as hard as possible. The last thing we want is that this pathogen continues to haunt us forever. At the same time, other Global Pandemics currently plague our world. We may not realize it because in some cases they don’t transmit and we have developed emotional immunity to deal with them.
What I want to point out is that there are other reasons for deaths that are significantly higher by all standards. Considering that the entire world is taking extreme measures to deal with the outbreak because the numbers are extremely high, I wonder why haven’t we looked at other situations around the world similarly.
List of other global pandemics.
- Seasonal Influenza
- Air Pollution
- Contaminated Water
- Fake Medicine
To be honest, this is not the complete list because there are plenty of other illnesses that are killing people. However, these are some of those cases where people themselves are not responsible for the demise.
Let’s take a look at these cases one by one to better understand why these are global pandemics equivalent to covid19 if not worse.
Some say that solving world hunger is one of those impossible tasks that by no means this can be achieved. I think this belief is a complete failure on us as human beings because collectively we waste almost 1.3 billion tonnes of food globally each year.
In terms of monetary value, the waste amounts to 2.6 trillion USD and that is more than sufficient to feed everyone that goes hungry on the planet. The food waste and food loss I am talking about is the one that happens during production, harvest, transportation, and storage.
800 million hungry, 2 billion micro-nutrient deficiencies, this is the world situation. Some of these numbers are 4-5 years old but they haven’t changed significantly. About 5.6 million children died before the age of 5 in 2016. That number converts to 15000 deaths daily, how is it that we are willing to live this.
We lose another 3.1 million children due to under-nourishment. Considering the shortage of food among so many people, vital nutrients are the least of their worries. Filling the stomach to gather some level of energy is more important than spending money on nutrition.
Pregnant women are highly under-nourished and as a result, give birth to children that are unhealthy or are born with some preexisting illnesses. This, in turn, reduces the chance of survival of the children.
Although, several organizations are putting in effort towards resolving this issue and have achieved some success. This issue will only be resolved when the general population, global leaders and corporates all stand together.
Deaths due COVID19 are shockingly high. Considering how quickly it spreads, it seems like the world as we know is not going to be the same. Having said that, seasonal influenza is also an under-rated killer of many.
A study conducted by WHO estimates the total number of mortalities globally to be 250,000 to 500,000. However, a study conducted in 2017 indicated that influenza-related deaths can lie between 290,000 to 650,000. In addition, another study conducted in 2019 estimates that 99,00 to 200,000 deaths from infection in the lower respiratory tract caused by influenza.
People with lower immune systems and older than 65+ years were 67% of the total deaths. These numbers are extrapolated along with other projection techniques to average them out.
Not to be critical but hypothetically speaking these numbers could be half or twice as much. Even if those numbers are half of what’s been estimated puts this infection as one of Global Pandemics.
This is the situation when we have a vaccination available. As mentioned before, it seems as if we develop immunity not to fight the virus but to accept these deaths as unavoidable. Therefore, we come to terms with the fact that we will go by living knowing that these deaths can’t be prevented.
This one is something that you will agree with me. We all have seen it, the smog in the atmosphere, increase in global warming, forest fires and many cancerous diseases that it brings along.
Air pollution is one of the highest contributors to a global mortality rate. Why not, nearly 80% of the population is living in an environment that is highly toxic and polluted beyond WHO guidelines. There are deadly and harmful chemicals in our homes as well.
Air contamination kills approximately 7,000,000 people worldwide. We are all exposed to both outdoor and indoor pollution that leads to a premature death mostly due to a stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory affliction.
Even people who survive are prone to serious health issues, breathing problems and overall weak immunity. How are our bodies going to fight with viruses that attack us in ways that only a healthy body can defeat it?
There have been reports from all over the world that the pollution levels have gone down. This is mainly because of mandatory lockdown enforced in every country. By that, we learned that controlling pollution is possible maybe not with such extreme measures. Whereas something substantial and sustainable steps are necessary to let our earth breathe.
We need to be looking at primary factors that are affecting the air. Factories emitting heavy toxic gases need to be kept under strict monitoring. Promote alternate fuels that are less harmful, improve the public transportation system to reduce the number of vehicles on road.
Let us save the planet while we can, human beings along with other species are at huge risks. Where else can we go?
Clean water is a necessity for some and a luxury for a few. About 785 million people lack the basic drinking water service. Shockingly 2 billion people use a water source that is contaminated with feces.
Poor quality of water results in 485,000 deaths due to diarrhea. Others suffer from other diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and polio. The problem of clean drinking water is not only in developing countries but some regions in developed countries also suffer. Sometimes we take comfort in thinking that such a problem appears on the other side of the world.
The problem could very well be close to our homes as well. The depletion of natural resources of water is adding to the concern. Roughly, 575 liters of water are used daily by an average American household whereas, in developing countries, an average of 19 liters is used.
All the countries together will have to take charge of using water efficiently so that the regions suffering get access to clean water. People should reduce water waste as much as they can. Fix water leakage issues, report water-related problems to local authorities and do our bit in saving water.
Governments must work on ensuring that regions highly affected are provided basic clean water services. Industries relying on fossil water should be under a strict radar to avoid depletion.
By now we have come to realize that to avoid diseases and infections, impeccable hygiene is required. In addition, suitable clean water is a basic human necessity and no one should be deprived of it.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted from female Anopheles mosquito. Even though it is curable, it is also a life-threatening disease. As per a report from 2018, nearly 228 million cases of malaria have been reported worldwide. In the same year, we lost 405,000 lives to this rampant disease. Children under the age of 5 are at high risk, they accounted for 67% of the deaths globally.
Similar to malaria, there are other mosquito borne diseases that claim lives. For example, dengue, West Nile virus, Zika virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, etc. These diseases easily spread in countries that already have poor sanitation.
They are suffering from a shortage of sufficient and clean water, maintaining optimum cleanliness to avoid such diseases in almost impossible. You see how fixing water issues can help in reducing these deaths significantly.
Most of the widespread problems that we are discussing are inter-connected. Immune affecting diseases, pollution (industrial and biological) and water issues all contribute to bringing the world down to its knees when we are dealing with global pandemics such as coronavirus. For a healthy planet and its inhabitants; we have to deal with these issues more seriously than ever.
Any logical person or organization, when faced with a problem, will first find the solution and fix the root cause. This is a simple concept that we apply in our lives too. However, when dealing with these epidemics we fail to apply the same formula.
We think that finding a cure would solve the problem. A cure will definitely save lives but when we choose to ignore the origin of the problem, all the efforts go in vain.
I read an article published by statsnews.com, they shared a story of Richard Morrow from John Hopkins University who forgot to pack antimalarial medication when he was traveling to Africa. When he returned to the US, he had fever, chills, headaches and later goes into a coma. Doctors diagnosed him with cerebral malaria, one of the deadliest types. He survived the infection with the help of proper treatment.
An investigation of the medication revealed that what he bought in Africa was not chloroquine. It was acetaminophen and not what the label said. Many countries have a compromised healthcare system. Imagine someone going through that situation and do not get similar treatment.
There were various news reports about fake medicines killing nearly 300,000 children. One of the most common fake or substandard drugs is antimalarial medicine. This in all sense is nothing but a murder or a genocide.
Them problem is quite high in poor countries that don’t have stringent checks and measures against counterfeit medicine. Terrorist organizations and organized crime is often linked to the peddling of fake drugs. Selling these fake medicine in itself is an act of terrorism.
Netflix released a documentary that showed how a big pharmaceutical company was increasing the prices of commonly used medicine called Syprine. It cost $1300.00 a year in 2013. A few years later, after some takeovers and structural changes the price of the drug rose to $289,000.
The price jump was way out of anyone’s understanding. People suffering from Wilson’s disease depend on the life-saving drug; Syprine. If they can’t afford it, they can’t buy it and hence reducing their chances of survival. The rise in the prices of medication is also a primary reason for fake medicine.
Is anybody concerned yet?
When coronavirus started spreading viciously, it didn’t stop countries from taking extreme measures such as social distancing by enforcing lockdown. Freedom is a fundamental right in almost every country when it was restricted, people cooperated. This happened not only because they didn’t have a choice but also because we all wanted it to end.
Generally, we are caught up with the idea that it won’t happen to us unless a black swan event happens. It is critically important to think that for a happier world to exist we need to act together.
Many non-profits and other volunteer organizations have been doing their part to remove these existing conditions of the world. However, a smaller portion of the population can’t resolve everything on their own.
Everyone right now is willing to join hands and work together to defeat the spread of the virus. So why not work with each other in eradicating existing storm that is throwing the world off-balance.
Global pandemics or epidemics don’t always show up in the form of a virus. They hide in plain sight and continue to claim lives year after year. All of these problems are connected and a change of perception can help us see it. What we see is a domino effect because if we don’t ensure that the first brick stays strong then everything falls along.
The lesson we learn from the current outbreak is that we can live without cars, shopping, drinking and eating out. What’s important is that we have a safe place to live, food to eat and our families and friends are safe. That has always been the priority of life but we relied on so many things that don’t matter.
I hope that with the new knowledge, we attempt to live more in harmony with the nature and use these turn of events as an example that will serve us better in future.