COVID-19: Clarion Call for the Global Leaders to Collaborate

While the disruption of normal life, and chaos caused by the virus in sociological, psychological, physical health, and upheaval caused in economic terms is unprecedented, it has opened many windows of opportunity too.
COVID-19: Clarion Call for the Global Leaders to Collaborate

Coronavirus pandemic is likely to emerge asa watershed moment in the history of planet earth. Depending upon how it isperceived and what lesson human population draws from this outbreak, it couldeither mark the end of a new beginning that would eventually lead to thebeginning of an end, or it could mark the beginning of a new dawn ofenlightenment, renewed thinking and new global order. COVID-19, the short-formof Coronavirus Disease (2019) hit the globe with a bang emerging from Wuhan,the Central Chinese province of Hubei, in December 2019 and has sincespread in more than 190 countries. The outbreak was recognized as a pandemic bythe World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March, 2020 and has so farinfected more than 10 lakh people, resulting in more than 54,000 (6%) deathsbesides more than 2,12,000 (21%) recoveries. COVID-19 has so far had drastichealth-related, sociological, economic, cultural and humanistic fall-outs incountries where the pandemic has spread.

In absence of a definite treatment modalitylike a vaccine, all across the world governments have been using the strategiesof containment, mitigation and suppression against the disease recommendingself-quarantine of the entire populations living in affected areas. Manycountries including India have announced complete countrywide lockdowns neverever witnessed in the history before. Many stock markets have taken a nosediveand tumbled to an all time low levels hitting the world economies very hard. Itis hard to guess how long world will take to overcome the economic slump causedby the pandemic. While the anxiety, panic, disruption of normal life,turbulence and chaos caused by the virus in sociological, psychological,physical health and economic terms has been unprecedented, it has opened manywindows of opportunity too.

One such window of opportunity has beenthat it has united the whole world on one issue of healthcare. Humankind haswoken up to the hard realities of human survival and significance of universalhealthcare in the times to come. People and nations across the world could beseen collaborating, sharing resources, propagating solutions and promotingawareness related to the coronavirus disease. Whole world appears to have beenunited by this notorious virus. A time has come for the governments andpolitical leaders all across the world to learn some hard lessons and take cuesfrom the COVID-19 pandemic that has united humanity on just one issue ofhealth. It is time for all of them to shun all regional, religious, sectarian,caste-based, creed-based, colour-based, hate-based, racist politics and joinhands together to focus on some of the most intriguing global issues likeensuring universal health and education, tackling climate change, maintainingglobal peace, ensuring international security, poverty alleviation, overcomingfood grain scarcity, curbing depletion of water resources; conservation ofbiodiversity, forests, environment and ecology; disaster prevention, mitigationand relief; disarmament of all nuclear nations, contributing towardsstrengthening national economies, dissolving international borders, abolishingdictatorships, promoting democracies and collaborating for a sustainable mutualprogress, growth and development.

Let the COVID-19 be the game-changer andtransformer of all equations on the surface of planet earth. This time entireplanet earth seems to be sick and retreating at present. Let it recuperate andemerge as a much more powerful, mature, resurgent and resilient planet so thatit sustains human life for a very long time to come. Let the world afterCOVID-19 be a different world altogether. Let COVID-19 dissolve our big fategos and let us work for the betterment of humanity transcending ourterritorial boundaries and jurisdictions. This is the best gift and lesson thatwe can give to our progeny. Many existential threats are looming large on thehuman race and gaining momentum with each passing year in the twenty firstcentury, some of whom include catastrophic climate change and collapse ofecosystems, artificial super-intelligence and the rise of robots, alarmingthreat of a nuclear warfare, threat of super-volcanic eruptions and devastatingearthquakes, impacts of huge asteroids hitting upon the earth, biological andchemical warfare, pandemics and the emergence of incurable diseases. Only astrong, collective, pooled and united effort at the global level could help usfind solutions to these emerging threats to the existence of mankind on theface of earth.

There is dire need for a "MultinationalTask Force for the Survival of Mankind" at the global level where best mindsand talents all across the world belonging to diverse streams of science,engineering, technology, humanities, sociology, commerce, economics,healthcare, management, psychology, earth science, agriculture and law couldconverge and sit across to draw a roadmap and action plan for tackling thesepotential threats and thereby effectively paving way for the survival ofmankind. This task force may determine the level of existential threat posed byall these potential dangers, rate them on a scale of ten in terms of theirseverity and thereby prioritize their handling and management in an effectiveand fool-proof manner. Recommendations of the task force must be binding andmandatory to follow by all countries of the world. They should be made to signa Memorandum of Understanding to honour and implement the recommendations anddecisions of the task force in letter and spirit. Countries must also pledge toextend full support, cooperation besides necessary assistance in terms offinances, manpower, territory, machinery and other logistics required for theimplementation of the agenda and action plan presented by the task force as andwhen required.

There is no dearth of well-meaning,rational, well-reasoned, level-headed, visionary and far-sighted leaders acrossthe world who can join hands, pool their resources and think in this direction.Leaders like Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Justin Trudeau of Canada, AngelaMerkel of Germany, Emmanuel Macron of France, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, ShinzoAbe of Japan, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and manyothers provide a ray of hope for the fulfillment of this agenda that appears tobe quite demanding,  lofty and huge onthe face of it, nevertheless not impracticable.

Coming back to COVID-19, it needs to bementioned that COVID-19 has revitalized the scientific temper among the peopleat large who keenly studied each and every detail about the virus as well asthe disease and on the basis of knowledge gained took commensurate steps fortheir own protection from the disease. Mosques, churches, synagogues, templesall around the world including  MasjidAl-Haram at Mecca, KSA, Vatican City, Golden Temple at Amritsar, Vaishno Devitemple at Jammu and the renowned Hindu temple at Tirupati have been locked downfor the time being and the worshippers are seeking remedies in medical sciencerather than spirituality and religion for protection from the disease. This hassubstantially rekindled the subdued scientific temper among the masses andpromoted their inquisitiveness about the etiology, pathogenesis, signs andsymptoms, diagnosis and treatment of the corona virus disease. Thisinquisitiveness and scientific temper needs to be harnessed and promotedfurther.

COVID has in more than many respects left alot of room for the humankind to survive. Imagine if it had been water-borne,food-borne or air-borne, even locking ourselves up inside our homes would nothave been safe and sufficient to survive. We would not have been in a positioneven to fearlessly eat food, breathe air or drink water as we are doing atpresent. Only thing it calls for is to abolish or minimize human and socialcontact which is not that impossible than not being able to freely eat food,breathe air or drink water. Food articles merely need to be washed and cookedthoroughly before consuming them. So let us take advantage of this window ofopportunity and continue to stay home for our own survival. Alongside socialisolation and home-quarantining, vigorous testing aimed at tracking and tracinginfected people for clinical course detection of the disease has to go hand inhand for any tangible results to be achieved in terms of its control. All thesemeasures will definitely help in flattening the curve of COVID-19 pandemic.

Author teaches at the Dept. ofPharmaceutical Sciences, University of Kashmir

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