International

The Virus that Shook the World

The year 2020 has successfully pushed the world into a crisis that it was ill-equipped to deal with. Alarmingly enough, Bill Gates is among the first to predict an outcome very similar to Covid-19 nearly five years ago, stating that the world was not ready to deal with a pandemic due to the inefficient and ineffective healthcare sector, and the governments’ interest in amassing capital rather than ensuring basic health facilities. No one would have thought that his words would become a reality, but here we are today. The events arising out of Covid-19 pandemic will definitely determine the state of the world once it is over. Covid-19 will mark the transition of the world into a new global order, with new power equations and new players calling the shots.

The USA, not wishing to lose the first place even in this race, has successfully overtaken Italy and other countries to count the highest number of deaths in the world. The country has become the new epicentre of the pandemic. While the soaring numbers may prove America’s success in rapid testing, American President Donald Trump’s sights are evidently set not on the recovery of the affected, but on the upcoming 2020 Presidential Elections. At the same time, Trump has invested his time in deflecting blame on the mismanagement of the pandemic from his government, citing the Democratic debates. Trump had also spoken about the shortcomings of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which might be true to some extent, but can’t used to deflect his own responsibilites. From assuming that the contagious virus will not disrupt the life of Americans, to emphasising the role of rival China in the pandemic by calling it the ‘China virus’, President Trump’s actions have become scandalous and have brought backlash from many parts of the world. No wonder Twitter had to issue a ‘fact-check’ warning for his many ‘tweets’. With Europe losing faith in Trump and his policies, the world seems to be moving further away from America’s hands.

China seems to steadily recover from the crisis situation, slowly opening its doors to the outside while the rest of the world remains in shambles. The Chinese government has come under fire for withholding information regarding the severity of the coronavirus and not making the country’s statistics public. However, life in the most populous country is coming back to normalcy and the manufacturing sector is slowly regaining its momentum. Beijing can avert an economic slowdown only if domestic consumption picks up. Although China is able to gain from trade with countries like Japan, only time will tell how much of an economic crisis will the country be able to avert. Many nations are expecting a lot from China regarding transparency and accountability on Covid-19, with some unwilling to trade with it unless it puts extra efforts on sharing the Covid-19 data with the rest of the world. After experiencing a tarnish of its reputation in the world, China has to now go a long way to rise to its old standards.

The Covid-19 crisis also showcased some of the cracks in the foundations of many global organisations. The current global scenario has led to the questioning of the relevance of some global organizations – the UN and WHO. The UN was first instituted during the aftermath of World War II for global economic and military cooperation. The machinery of the organisation is not enough to make a dent in the fight against the pandemic, primarily due to its outdated goals, its focus on issues that do not help in the crisis, and the influence of the few mighty powers. The WHO is also no stranger to the authority of the few supreme. American President Trump earlier threatened to halt US funds, ranging from $400 million to $500 million, to the WHO earlier this year, citing the mismanagement of the crisis by the organisation and the rather measly amount of $40 million that China has to pay. As of this writing, Trump had also threatened to cut off the funding to WHO permanently. Although Trump has been changing his side of the story ever since then, it just proves the frail position of the global organization against a superpower. Regional organisations are in no way better than their global counterparts. With every country speedily taking action to close its doors to the outside world, they are not offering remedies and are losing relevance.

The Covid-19 crisis will also lead to the birth of a new form of ‘discrimination’. Now, people have started exercising extreme caution in the purchase of goods. Everyone has turned indoors for the purchase of different goods and are trying to attain self-sufficiency. More stringent travel and trade restrictions are on the rise. This has, to an extent, curbed the problems of extreme capitalist globalisation. Another unique problem that must be tackled is the alarming rise in cases of xenophobia, racism and hate crime.

There are some countries that proved to be role models in containing Covid-19: Germany, Iceland, Taiwan, South Korea and New Zealand. They have successfully combatted the pandemic and have showcased that mass testing and early lockdowns can help a lot in flattening the curve. Taiwan especially provides testimony to the successful tackling of Covid-19. The country, just about a hundred miles away from mainland China, was feared to record the second-largest number of cases in the world. However, it recorded merely about 440 cases. Even the efforts of the Indian government to manage a lockdown with its 1.3 billion people have been appreciated. Although India’s lockdown brought hardships to the poorer section of the population, it did considerably slowed the spread of the virus.

This extraordinary crisis will result in a new form of lifestyle; one where personal health and hygiene are of utmost importance. The pandemic has successfully put a stop on unsanitary habits and has given importance to one’s immunity. As we still see an increase in number of Covid-19 cases, all we can do in the near future is to lower its spread drastically rather than completely eliminate.

-Nikita Maria Jino (One of the prize winners of Covid-19 Article Writing Competition in the 13-17 years age group)

Picture Credits: economist.com



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