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The COVID19 Global Toll on Humanity

By Matin Royeen

Introduction:  The Coronavirus known as COVID-19 was first discovered in Wuhan, China at the end of December of 2019 and it was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) by the end of January 2020. 

There is controversy regarding the outbreak of this virus. There is some speculation that COVID-19 was genetically engineered in a lab in Wuhan, China.  Some scientists believe it was naturally derived and reject this assumption that it was man made. Recently, a scientist from the World Health Organization stated that Covid-19 comes from bats and can infect cats and ferrets.  The speculation is that the virus transmitted to humans through contacts with animals used for food supplies. However, the United States intelligence is still investigating the source of this pandemic. The Washington Post recently reported the concerns of the US embassy officials in 2018 about the lack of adequate safety precautions in a research facility at the Wuhan Institute of Virology where bat virus was kept.  I believe the controversy regarding the origin of the Pandemic may continue without any conclusive evidence for a long time.

Despite the mystery surrounding the source of this Plague, the horrific impact of this killer virus on health and finances, have shaken the fate of every institution of the global community with profound psycho-social consequences at present and in the years to come.  Let us discuss the details of the damage this disease has caused around the world.

The Human Toll:  

  • Without any discrimination COVID-19, has attacked and killed human beings in every corner of the world.  As of May, 11th of 2020, over 4 million cases with more than 283000 deaths have been reported in 213 countries and territories since the initial reporting of the Coronavirus by the World Health Organization (WHO) in December of 2019.  
  • In the United States alone, more than 1.3 million cases with a death toll of close to 80000 were reported.  This staggering figure represents 31 percent of the total global positive cases and 35 percent of total deaths in the world.  
  • Some other countries with high Coronavirus death toll include the United Kingdom over 31000, Italy, over 30000 deaths, France and Spain over 26000 deaths each.  
  • Unfortunately, the numbers of both positive cases and the death figures will continue to increase.  Nobody knows how long this trend will continue and when the casualty figures will reach a plateau followed by a decline.  

Ethical Implication of COVID19:  Ethics describe a set of moral principles that should be applied and implemented in the action plans of leaders and governments during decision making.  These decisions should be the right ones based on justice, beneficence and the collective good of the global society.  The following points related to COVID19 will have some ethical implications.

  • There is no cure for COVID19 now.  Many countries are working hard to develop a vaccine in order to deal with this pandemic.  It may take months for a vaccine to be developed while this disease will continue to kill human beings.  We all live in a global village and our survival depends on universal cooperation.  It is important for the wealthy nations to allocate some funding for the developing countries to fight this crisis.  The entire global community needs to develop safer zones before transportation and other international economic activities can resume. 
  • After the discovery of a vaccine, how long will it take to meet all global needs and how it will be distributed to the poor people around the world?  Who is going to assume responsibility for financing the vaccine in developing countries?  
  • Unfortunately, The Trump administration has frozen funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), after President Trump accused the organization of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus”.  The United States has been responsible for 15 percent of the total two-year funding of 893 million for the World Health Organization.  The 134 million US contribution will hurt the international organization’s ability to combat the widespread virus.   Some criticize the timing of this action by the White House as being irresponsible and political. 
  • This pandemic serves as a warning sign against any future global problems that may threaten the health and well-being of people.  The lessons learned from this epidemic should help nations develop a set of coherent collective policies and procedures with allocation of adequate resources that can safeguard the physical, psychological and economic health of citizens of the world by proactive measures. 
  •  Allocation of resources such as Personal Protective Equipment and having access to health professionals and health facilities that can be responsive to the needs of the sick is another important ethical issue that must be discussed among stakeholders. 

The Worldwide Financial Crash Related to COVID19:

  • According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Covid19 will cost the world about 9.1 trillion during 2020-2021.  This number reflects one of the biggest financial shocks since the Great Depression of1930s. 
  •  Loss of jobs, bankruptcies and the shutting down of global communities in order to deal with this pandemic have had a profound impact on people’s lives.  The airline industry has incurred 314 billion loss, and 25 million out of its 65 million employees have lost their jobs.  
  • About 49 million people will be pushed into extreme global poverty; Sub-Saharan Africa 22.6 million, South Asia 15.6 million and East Asia and the Pacific 4.5 million.
  • According to the Christian Science Monitor, 1.6 billion, half of the world’s workforce are in danger of losing their livelihoods.
  • The informal business sectors that depend on daily income for survival in developing countries have no revenues and are at the mercy of the government and other humanitarian organizations for food and other basic needs.  Unfortunately, their governments are struggling to allocate the limited resources to fight this pandemic and are unable to meet the basic needs of those citizens who have lost their livelihood.
  • In the United States, over 33 million Americans have registered for jobless claims as a result of COVID19.  The 14.7 percent unemployment figure is the highest in this country since the Great Depression.

The Psychosocial Effect of COVID19 on Citizens of the World:  This virus has drastically affected mental health of individuals and their relationships with other members of society.

  •  Covid-19 has interrupted the daily routines which include work/study, leisure and rest. Many people have lost jobs while others have been forced to work out of their homes away from colleagues and friends.  Students are pursuing their education from their homes.  Such changes in human routines which disturb the customary human habits are very distressing to the human system.
  •  Physical distancing and social isolation have forced people to keep away from family, friends and loved ones.  In some cultures, these patterns of human interaction are very important.  Such social deprivation creates additional stress and contributes to loneliness.
  • Loss of job and income not only contribute to poverty, but also it causes more depression and anxiety.
  • Unfortunately, some countries are already facing different forms of violence that include arm conflicts, terrorism, poverty and unemployment.  Covid-19 has caused additional emotional harm to the delicate psyche of citizens of these nations. 
  • This virus has created a great deal of uncertainty and fear and it could exacerbate mental health and force people to substance abuse.
  • The coronavirus has driven people into a state of Limbo.  Its sudden outbreak shocked the world community and its brutal force has held the world community hostage, condemning human beings to a state of helplessness in a universe of hopelessness.  Nobody knows how long its wrath will continue to ruin lives.  Nobody has experienced this type of calamity in the last one hundred years.   

This Pandemic reminds me of a saying, “ there is a time in one’s period of life that regardless of the attitude of the mind, the soul is down on its knees to prayers”.     This is the time for humanity around the globe  to hold the hands of solidarity together, offering prayers for good health, peace and survival.  May God bless the noble people of Afghanistan.

Dr. Matin Royeen is an Afghan-American educator in Chicago, USA.  He can be reached at: [email protected]

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