Whatever the media outlet, it seems all anyone seems to be talking about these days in the novel Coronavirus also known as, COVID-19. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and everyone’s advice is “don’t panic!” But how honest is that advice? Although there is cause for much concern, the virus alone is not deadly and extensive research is being carried out to foster a vaccine. Most importantly, there is an impressive number of recovered cases. All this proves is that this outbreak has become a test of our human nature at its core and not our human existence.

It all started in Wuhan, China in December 2019 when multiple patients were recorded with shared symptoms of a compromised respiratory system. These were later discovered as victims of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) which belongs to the same family of viruses like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) with symptoms similar to the common cold. The only difference between it and the others is that it’s more infectious than its siblings but less fatal. It is frighteningly infectious despite its relatively large mass compared to other viruses. It is because of this that the virus is transmitted in droplets when an infected person exhales, coughs or sneezes. When an infected person touches a surface – tables, chairs and even paper are all possible transmission sites– the virus survives on that surface for a varied number of days waiting to leech onto another host. Incidents like these cause something called communal transmission which affects a larger population. Therefore, shared spaces and items are areas of the highest susceptibility to its spread; especially in less developed countries where majority of items are shared – public transport, plates and cups, etc.. It is this exact quality that led the WHO to declare COVID-19 a global pandemic, hurling the world into a frenzy.

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Illustration: Tom Iurchenko/iStock via everydayhealth.com

But it’s not all doom and gloom – recovery is possible. As a matter of fact, as of the 23rd of March 2020, a whopping 100,000 individuals have recovered with more than 353,000 active cases still in the world [1]. More so, evidence suggests that the virus is most fatal to people over the age of 50 and those with pre-existing medical conditions [2]. That leaves a good fraction of the world population safe with a mild cough at worst. So why is the world painted with apocalyptic themes and doomsday flags? Human nature.

To our core, we share an unspoken fear of death or oblivion. We fear the uncertainty that the world is in and we allow that to blindside us from the facts of the matter at hand. That’s completely normal and human even. Regardless, all that modern media is feeding us are mixed signals and fear-mongering headlines. There’s a fine line between information and fear-priming – a very fine line. It is impressive how unnoticed these boundaries are crossed in these frantic times. After all, fear is a strong emotion that causes the infamous fight-or-flight hormone – Adrenaline – to run rampant in the bloodstream. So, it’s understandable why many people might not read an entire article and its details before having a mini-panic attack. I strongly advise you, take a deep breath and read the actual details without the red-flag titles.

Another human faux pas being highlighted is our greed and selfishness. Take a look at the panic-shopping happening in the US or Australia – and the mighty fixation on toilet paper. Although no industry has claimed it will seize production in these perilous times, the public adamantly believes they just might. Those panic-shoppers are not only seemingly trying to save themselves first but also save themselves only. Again, it’s understandable human nature – as flawed as that may be sometimes. We are wired to protect number one – ourselves – at all costs. However, mature citizens and those with medical conditions, should be given priority since they are the ones most at risk. And if you don’t care about the elders of your community, care about your favorite neighbor who might need that item you’re stocking up for no reason. This isn’t the Hunger Games – there isn’t going to be only one alpha survivor.

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Illustration via medpagetoday.com

Given the advances in science and technology, modern research and medicine are paving the way for everyone to survive the threat COVID-19 poses. Just last week, human clinical trials began in the US for a vaccine against the virus [3]. The UK is scheduled to begin similar trials next month as well [4]. It is just a start, but a very good one compared to previous viral outbreaks that devastated the earth. With robust infrastructure, adequate medical assistance and community involvement, the outbreak can be contained effectively. However, in African countries like Sudan that suffer from pre-existing fragile health care systems, COVID-19 could quickly become deadly for all population demographics. This leaves only community efforts like social distancing, hand washing and hygienic practices as viable methods of containment of the virus.

Even though the situation is still unfolding, these methods have proven incredibly effective is impeding the spread of the virus. Every single person’s effort contributes to the overall battle against this pandemic. But most importantly, everyone must acknowledge their responsibility to protect those around them. Although the virus is deadly to older individuals and people with medical conditions, keep in mind that some people might be undiagnosed or have a compromised immune system without their own knowledge regardless of age. All we have to do is be human in caring for others and prioritizing what’s best for our community over ourselves by following protocols instead of operating on terror-induced survival of the fittest attitude.

References:

1. Worldometer. (2020). Coronavirus Update (Live). Retrieved from https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ .

2. Al Jazeera Media Network. (2020). Coronavirus pandemic - COVID-19: In charts and maps. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2020/03/covid-19-charts-maps-200310163714493.html .

3. TIME. (2020). Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Test Begins as U.S. Volunteer Receives First Shot. Retrieved from https://time.com/5804092/experimental-covid-19-vaccine-test-begins-as-u-s-volunteer-receives-first-shot/ .

4. The Guardian – Politics. (2020). Boris Johnson says he expects mass Covid-19 testing to be possible soon – as it happened. Taken from https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2020/mar/19/uk-coronavirus-live-boris-johnson-london-lockdown-williamson-refuses-to-rule-out-government-putting-london-in-lockdown-by-weekend
 

This post is also available in: Arabic


Marrian Haileselassie

Marrian studied electronics engineering and specialized in control systems at UMST. Despite the technical nature of her studies, she’s always had a passion for writing and human rights issues. She can always be found reading a news article or watching a documentary. In her free time, Marrian likes to watch classic movies like The Godfather series or listen to undiscovered music.