Coronavirus — The Bigger Picture Understanding and Historical Context

Health Care Jan 31, 2020

The Bigger Picture —

This recent and slowly unfolding Coronavirus outbreak has opened my eye to some of the historical events. And the importance of what everyone should aware, in the broader context, about this looming potential pandemic.

Since most of the millennial's and younger generations have not witnessed such an outbreak in their informative years, they tend to observe the current epidemic in China through what the news cycle dictates.

Lacking this historical context, we may not take this seriously until the spread of this disease finds its foothold on our shore.  May naively believe that a wealthy nation like the USA, with access to advanced medicine and health care infrastructure, somehow invincible to this or any outbreak and relegated mainly to distance areas in the third world countries. But, a century-old mass graves and the devastation it caused in the past should serve as a stark reminder of what this flu can wreak in our home.

From the last major outbreak to now, the world is not the same; settings are different in an uncountable number of ways. And all of those factors will negatively contribute to the spread of any future outbreak. So, to have such an overview understanding of past events help us put this current crisis in perspective.

Starting with viruses itself, so far we have known to endless variation of strains, and already developed defensive mechanism for most of them. Hence, they usually classified into seasonal and unknown pandemic viruses. And most of these new and virulent strains transfer happens when humans come in close contact with animals, this is one of the reasons epicenter of these recent ones happening in most populous countries on earth like China and India.

Historical outbreak —

1918 —

This outbreak during the industrial revolution in America and around the world claimed more than 50 million people's lives. And imagine that this spread of far and wide had come despite the absence of industrial-scale forming of live stocks.

Not to mention that the world population has risen from then 1.8 billion to 7.8 billion now.

2003 —

This one has the economic context, and should we have the repeat of such an outbreak now, then what it would mean for the global economy is unimaginable.

For instance, when it happened then, China was only contributing 4% to the global GDP. Now, that number has grown to 16%. Imagine the supply chain disruption in a globally connected economy while the world's second-largest economy and others going through this crisis.

Human-made catastrophic —

Let me put it out there first. By saying this, I am not taking or supporting either side in this raging vaccine debate.

While agreeing that the individual must have freedom of choice whether to administer the vaccine. However, in a fair and civilized society, when individual action is demonstrably bad for others, either they should ready to give up some personal liberty voluntarily for the needs of the whole or the government should impose it through enacting laws.

What to expect now —

Unlike in the previous events, overall responses coming in thick and fast from around the world. China has taken the measure to an extreme level by shutting down the entire province of sixty million people, where this current outbreak believed originated.

Additionally, China has extended appropriate support by providing the scientific community with a genome of this current strain of the virus. It will help the response in several ways immediately

  1. First, in developing pathology procedures for diagnosing infection.
  2. Subject this virus strain through existing anti-viral medication for the treatment
  3. Focusing effort straight away towards a potential breakthrough in vaccine development.

But the health care experts advising against any mass quarantine of people — because it only further exacerbates the situation and causing panic among citizens. Instead, advocating for time tested approaches like awareness creation and managing contact with animals to prevent the transfer of deadly viruses.

No matter what this current one in hold for us, when push comes to shove, we will figure it out collectively and bring about the benefit for all.

Sources — Netflix, Amanpour and Company, and CNN

Inner Voice

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