Post Mortem

From pandemic to endemic: Life vs profit!

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/14/2021 12:53:21 PM IST

 An invisible virus from somewhere made its entry into the world of humans continues its spree devastating the world. Evert aspect of human life is affected escalating fear and insecurity including those leaders who have been thinking as invincible. The mutant virus variants have erupted in countries spreading at supersonic speed. To counter the onslaught of Covid-19, companies that produce vaccines invested millions of dollars engaging in research across the world rolled out a number of brands, but to the surprise of everyone corona started to surge in dangerous ways than before. Death and infection rates touched its peak as compared to 2020. 

Coronavirus has never distinguished borders, nation-states and apparently went beyond caste, class, gender, religion and nationality. But, once the roll-down of vaccines began, we come across emergence of vaccine inequality. Stronger economies have funded huge money who in turn, ordered vaccines doses in millions. The two-third world unable do so because of their poor economic status. This equation has widened inequality escalating poverty and hunger. Over and above, Covid-19 has helped the dictators and totalitarians to consolidate their power. In times of Covid-19 leaders used it to amass more power and did whatever they wanted.

Initially, countries like India under the leadership of PM Modi wanted to show to the world that he was not a vaccine nationalist, but as times passed by, the rich and powerful countries went ahead in vaccinating majority of its populace, while countries like India have hardly covered. Further, two-third world needs millions of vaccines to cover the entire populace, but have hardly covered the first jab and so the Governments like India has stopped exporting vaccines to other countries sticking on to “Me and My People”.  Vaccine nationalism is back.

We live in a world of inequality and populism. Rich people in one-third and two-third worlds enjoy all privileges including vaccine jabs, while the poor will have to wait for years. Apparently, COVID-19 has furthered misery and hardships to alarming heights as it affected severely employment possibilities of the informal sectors, who constitute the majority of workforce. Coronavirus has decimated all aspects of life that lasted for one full year. 

Development of vaccines resurged the hopes of leaders and people. Nonetheless, the mutant variant of coronavirus has muted the confidence of scientist, leaders and people. It has raised a question: Would vaccine jabs prevent the attack of the mutant variants? Answer to this question is not on definitive lines, but keep raising many more questions. Nevertheless, the entire world is engaged in fighting coronavirus without knowing from where it originated and how many waves and variations it would take and when it could possibly be eradicated.

A year passed by. On the 24th of March, 2020, PM Modi had announced nation-wide lockdown by giving just few hours to the 1.4 billion people. Millions travelled across the country for livelihood with families, not knowing what to do had started their journeys back to their homes. Images that we see in the print and visual media testify moving testimonies. Totalitarians have taken decisions on their own without consulting the opposition and the stake holders. Total lockdown clamped in India by PM Modi without any discussion in the Parliament.

These are strange times. The spike is on an upward trend. The curve shows alarming rise. Nowadays, the very word “COVID” annoys many. People are fed up to hear the words such as “lockdowns” and “shutdowns”. Majority of people do not want to take one more long shut down. However, those living in the so called “free society” in the West shall never accept anymore. They would not accept total lockdowns or partial lockdowns as they are couched with individual freedom of expression and movement. As the second wave surges and gaining its momentum no one knows what to do. We’re once again pushed into murky waters.

Once again, COVID has infused anxiety by kindling serious concern as to whether there would be another lockdown. India is in the second spike and other countries such as UK, Brazil, USA, Italy, Germany and others are in the third wave. COVID cases keep spiking.  The governments do not want to go for another lockdown, but puts the onus on the people to be cautious not to deviate from the mandatory requirements. However, mutant variants are on its spree and the numbers of people who are going to be dead and get infected would be much greater.

On the one hand, the Western governments known for liberal democracies keep invoking lockdowns by taking into account the mood of the people. During the initial period most of the Western countries went in their own ways challenging WHO safety norms. While on the other, PM Modi probably seemed to have taken the corona virus lightly and taking COVID impact at a minimal level in the initial period and thus acted as a dictator imposing total lockdown by offering just few hours to pack-off. It was a long and horrendous journey. 

The images that we have been seeing for the last one year enjoins flesh and blood. Fragile frames taking a long journey exhibits anxiety and insecurity. Mass exodus of people depicts the pain and hardships. Their future is at stake. And yet they live with hope with a belief that they have a future. These are the people who have made and created history. They are the subjects of history with resolve and resilience. The new corona variants could be lethal as experts say, but for those who without any security and safety in life have no other choice but being pushed to face all kinds of difficulties. The emergent virus is yet another life-threatening one. It is the poor and the laboring classes face all kinds of problems.

Coronavirus, once a pandemic, now is an endemic. A deadly virus is shaking the very foundation of human existence including all areas of human activities in life-threatening ways, particularly the working classes. They are the ones who contribute to the welfare of people immensely in varied ways by their hard labor, and so waves of coronavirus shall never deter their grit and confidence, despite their misery, insecurity, fear and hopelessness.

Figures of the dead and infected are spiraling to millions. Governments across the world face the same challenges, but responding in different ways, and the outcomes have been different. Funerals were conducted in haste where the numbers who attend were small. It has been a year and when we think about it the year passed by was filled with anguish and despair. WHO did warn the countries to be ready for any eventualities, but there was no preparedness. Leaders of many countries undermined the virus and had taken the first wave for granted.

India, too undermined the first wave.  Many lives could have been saved if leaders listened to science and experts. Nations’ look to the leaders for guidance. As George Will rightly opines, “Voters don’t decide issues, they decide who will decide issues.” It is for those who voted are now forced to think: whether their leaders who they voted for have taken right decisions on issues such as COVID-19 or decisions are premised on favoritism accumulation of money and furthering of power and populism. 

As Stephen Covey points out that “Accountability breeds response-ability” which we hardly see from leaders. As COVID-19 has taken hold of our activities, leaders in such dire straits sent messages that were contradictory and inconsistent. In the initial period and even now messaging from leaders are so confusing creating chaos. Decisions on issues ought to be taken with diligence and responsibility, but not to be based on furthering political ambitions. 

Billions of people across the world suffer because of immature decisions and inconsistent messages have been passed on to citizens by leaders who ignored science and expertise.  History shall never forgive them. It is hoped that at the appropriate time there shall be a public inquiry on how the governments handled the pandemic. We will have to learn from history, failing which history will repeat, by then it will be late.

Vaccines are out, but experts do not give guarantee of its efficacy. Many dubious theories are floating. Question that arise are: Are vaccines designed to end the pandemic or to turn into an endemic? Are vaccines developed by oligopolistic vaccine transnationals and monopolists primarily to maximize profits or to save human lives?  Coronavirus is gradually becoming from pandemic to an endemic which means that like any other influenzas demand of these vaccines would continue and so it is going to yield greater returns. Like boosters for influenzas, we would be forced to take vaccines in the foreseeable future, as it is an endemic.

Dr. John Mohan Razu

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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