The world over is fighting a common enemy. An enemy that is so widespread that it has forced many nations to close their borders as they try to contain the war within. The war against the novel coronavirus is going to be a very difficult one for many reasons. It appears the only thing we are certain about is the name we have given to this virus. We do not know the exact origin of this virus; we are yet to ascertain an actual treatment for the disease it causes. We do not comprehend its movement; is it travelling by air, or by sea or by road? In a few short weeks, the virus had travelled millions of miles around 130 countries, and has even penetrated Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street, two most impenetrable fortresses in the world. The virus went calling at the home of the Canadian Prime Minister, preferring to stay with the First Lady instead. The virus had visited the high and the mighty who were on pleasure cruises in Ocean Cruise Luxury Liners in the middle of high seas. Who is this agent of death and what is he or she made of?
There is so much we do not know about this virus and its disease, Covid-19. Health experts say that just like the common cold or the flu, there are no physical characteristics shown by an infected person during the incubation period. So how can we avoid what your eyes cannot see? By social distancing and staying at home, they say. But how can we stay at home and away from each other and survive as a species? That has not been the practice of modern man. It was for the cave men. The advances in information technology, the sciences, artificial intelligence, and quantum computation have not completely eliminated the physical presence of a human being in resolving most or any of our daily life’s challenges. And we have tried very hard to make man redundant with increasingly sophisticated and smart technology. But it appears that now the novel coronavirus wants to push us along this path of eliminating human beings from our daily lives.
Living with coronavirus may seem to be the new normal for the foreseeable future. What kind of life will that be? It could be a life devoid of human person-to-person interaction; no visits to the malls, no going to sporting events, no seeing the movies or plays in theatres, no religious congregation, no working in open offices, factories filled with robots and x-men, online shops manned with robots. The list of impractical possibilities is endless. How do we grow and sell foods, process foods, provide social services, access healthcare?
The novel coronavirus, if allowed, is seeking the end of man as we know it. The human race must understand the gravity of what is confronting it. Religious or not, we might be slow-walking, or racing into the end of man. The irony here is that humans are the superior beings on Earth. Whatever the origin of this virus, how can we allow so small an organism that needs our protein infrastructure to replicate and survive bring us down to our knees, decapitate us, destroy our economy, and alter our ways of life towards driving us to extinction? Should we go on our knees to beg Mister Virus or Madame Virus to let us be? Or should we fight back with all we have got?
A healthy mind is a healthy body. In today’s world the converse is equally true; a healthy body breeds a healthy mind. To have a healthy body, you must nurture it with good food and seek good healthcare. These require financial resources. The lock-ins and lockdowns of social distancing have put to a screeching halt our sources for daily livelihoods. All over the world, schools and businesses are closed. Workers are losing employments and wages are stagnated, reduced, or frozen. The economies of countries are stagnated and may go into recession even if the end to lockdowns happens at the end of April 2020. But from all indications, no country is anywhere near opening up its economy in the next 2 weeks. When asked, Dr. Antony Fauci, the lead scientist in the fight against this war in the USA, said on Tuesday the U.S. does not yet have the critical testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the nation’s economy. Among Fauci’s top concerns: that there will be new outbreaks in locations where social distancing has eased, but public health officials don’t yet have the capabilities to rapidly test for the virus, isolate any new cases and track down everyone that an infected person came into contact with.
According to reports from Associated Press received on April 14, 2020 much of the tests for Covid-19 involve blood tests that aim to tell who was exposed to the coronavirus — whether they knew they were sick or not — by spotting antibodies that their immune systems formed to fight back. Those tests will be crucial in determining when and how people can go back to work. Last week, South Korea reported that about 91 survivors of the disease had become re-infected. That is a worrisome development. Another problem is that most of the tests have not yet been proven to work well, Fauci cautioned. He noted that some countries bought millions of antibody tests only to learn they didn’t work. So before we can effectively predict anything, let alone open up the economies of the World, we must have reliable means of testing, tracing, and treating the disease.
Here in Nigeria, in an address extending the lockdown period for another 2 weeks, our President Buhari announced the formation of an Economic Council to advise on ways to reopen the economy post lockdown. USA and some other countries are taking similar steps. However, researchers from Harvard are warning that unless herd immunity is developed in the USA, social distancing will continue there until 2022. There are only 2 ways to contain the disease; eradication of the virus or the development of enough immunity in the population to stop or slow transmission to manageable levels. The first option is impossible. The second option is herd immunity achieved overtime and with vaccines. Present social distancing techniques only aim at flattening the curve of infection so there will always be pockets of the uninfected who will be susceptible to new wave of attacks when social distancing is eased. Nigeria is in the same population bracket as the USA, with us having a higher population density per given area.
The World Health Organization, WHO announced that there are about 70 different vaccines targeting Covid-19 that are developed and ready for testing and clinical trials. Sixty-seven other companies are also developing other vaccines for the same disease. All these companies are in a race to put a vaccine for public use within 12 -18 months. This will be a record, for it normally takes a decade for vaccines to be safely developed and deployed publicly. What this means is that it is probable that with this rushed deployment, we might notice adverse side effects and reactions 3 or 4 years down the line, leading to vaccine recalls and other perhaps severe medical issues. We do not know, but the risk of death from Covid-19 or hunger from perpetual quarantine makes the vaccine deployments inevitable when efficacious ones are found. Pharmaceutical companies all over the World are also working hard to develop potent drugs that will treat Covid-19 if the vaccine does not stop you from getting sick. Here in Nigeria, there have been reports of researches done on the efficacy of chloroquine against certain coronaviruses. So, all hands must be, and indeed all hands are on deck and in the ring for this fight.
The World must throw everything in the barn at this deadly devil. In my country, we obviously can see the much we have been able to accomplish through prayers. We must therefore do as advised and deploy all the prayer merchants against the virus. Never mind that they didn’t see it coming. To this, they will need their work stations so the first thing to do will be to open up all the churches and mosques for this purpose solely; although, it only makes sense that no collection of tithes and offerings at this time until the virus is defeated. Equally important is the deployment of the traditionalists who should proceed to cast spells and curses on this virus and drive him or her to the abyss.
I have said it previously, that this virus could be made by nature, not China made. A lot of us environmentalists believe that this pandemic could have resulted from nature’s on way of taking back what it has lost through human destructive interactions with our ecosystems or it is simply obeying the third law of thermodynamics. Whatever it is, this virus is terrorizing us, and we cannot yield to terror. The World refused to yield to Al Qaeda, to ISIS, to Boko Haram, to KKK, etc. We cannot yield to ‘Covid-19 Terror’ or ‘CoViTerror” for short. The whole world must unite to fight this terror; East and West, North and South, China and America, Russia and NATO, Obama and Trump, Biden and Sanders, Amazon and Walmart, and even MBS and Khashoggi. If we do not prevail, our end seems nigh.