Towards the end of 2019 – In Wuhan, China – a bat flapped its wings – and within three months the world had changed:
An entirely new and potentially deadly virus – eventually named Covid-19 – began disabling people, proving an especially dangerous trigger for pneumonia in the elderly and already ill;
- the death rate of those affected in this way was higher than for influenza – possibly about 4%;
- the delay between contracting the virus and showing symptoms proved to be about two weeks;
- this meant that before the virus was even certified as new, it had spread widely – as those earliest infected moved into different localities;
- there was no cure, as existing vaccines for e.g. ‘flu were ineffective – and people had no immunity to it;
- it was not contained within China, and quickly made its way via air travel throughout the world;
- everywhere it overwhelmed medical services and caused governments to turn their focus to it;
- ‘lockdowns’ were imposed on entire populations – the shutting of all non-essential economic activity and the confinement of non-essential workers to their homes;
- we watch on TV a totally different world emerge – to focus on one sole problem – a war that all we must fight, a war we had never expected;
- a war that cannot be won with guns, tanks, missiles or nuclear weapons – only by complete social solidarity and the dedicated and dangerous work of doctors, nurses, scientists, paramedics, care workers and the ancillary staff of hospitals and other key disease-fighting personnel,
- while around the globe passenger aircraft are parked, and air pollution levels fall.
And governments and politicians and media have no other priority and no good reason to be conducting business as usual, by passing the blame to one another for problems they had never solved as rivals.
Within four months, over 50,000 had died, and over a million globally were affected.
All had been unprepared for this event, even though for years those trained to evaluate such possibilities had been warning that something like the 1918 ‘flu pandemic could strike again anytime.
In response US President Trump said on March 6th, 2019 that the crisis was “an unforeseen problem” that “came out of nowhere,”. “We’re having to fix a problem that, four weeks ago, nobody ever thought would be a problem,” he said on March 11. “It’s something that nobody expected,” he said again on March 14
This was quickly contradicted by Susan Rice, an Obama era official who had overseen US response to the Ebola crisis and briefed incoming Trump personnel on the need for preparedness for an event exactly like the one that has unfolded.
But all of that is by-the-way – for a future that no one had foreseen – a different world – is now here – and everyone is trying to understand what next to do.
Covid-19 – a totally unexpected force – has called time on that old world of ‘blame somebody else‘ and brought an entirely new one into being – without firing a shot. And lowered air pollution levels across the world.