The real question is: with all our expertise in epidemiology and genetics why did scientists not foresee this one coming? Partly, it is because technological advances and the budgets to fund research into Artificial Intelligence and even viral research is skewed in favour of military applications. The remaining resources go to space exploration. Finding vaccines and cures for diseases that afflict poorer countries, like malaria and tuberculosis, are neglected.
Pandemic pangs, Nepali Times
Before this pandemic arose, governments of rich countries felt it was a Chinese problem that could not threaten their shores. There was a failure of the political leadership in rich countries engrossed with endless growth, geopolitical rivalry, and weapons research to take it seriously. Just as populist leaders denied climate change, they also ignored scientists warning about the potential of this deadly virus to spread.
The neglect is now most tragically seen in the acute shortage of medical equipment from the very basic N95 masks to personal protective equipment and ventilators. Countries that were once considered to have the best healthcare systems have been most vulnerable to treat and contain the scourge.
COVID-19 has also exposed that nation states operate in the self-interest, ignoring international cooperation, first try to protect their borders and compete for scarce medical supplies. The pandemic should teach us the lesson that that is not a one-off crisis — we ignore nature at our own peril. The virus has learnt to use human hosts networked with global air travel to spread across the planet, it does not respect national boundaries.
No doubt, the spread of the virus will proceed towards a gradual decline in the total global case load. There is a danger that we will forget the lessons from it as things return to normal, the global economy springs back, and air travel resumes.
Climate, COVID-19 and China, Rastraraj Bhandari
The world must converge towards rapid, efficient advancement of technology services through a sound healthcare system and distribution at the community level. Convergence in healthcare means bringing together advances in IT, AI, bio-medical sciences and genetic studies, and using digital platforms to link citizens remotely to medical institutions. Epidemiological tools like HealthMap, VivaLNK, and platforms like WeChat, Alipay, and QQ have been used in containing the coronavirus, but they need to be spread more extensively.
A potent chain of command and decentralisation of health authorities is integral in responding to such outbreaks, but the way the current pandemic is being dealt with at the local, national and global level have left many of our generation skeptical. We cannot pin our hopes on the present health system, and our futures are uncertain.
This inability to rely on governments during such a dangerous pandemic leads us to conclude that enhancing individual immunity of the body, and thinking globally about the response to future outbreaks is the only way.
For Nepal, this means strengthening self-resilience at the national level, having preparedness plans in place, enhancing the healing power of nature, and ensuring that medical care is more equitable.