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Why You Should Be Terrified of the Coronavirus

fear of coronavirus
Credit: Robert Wei

Are you afraid of the coronavirus? Should you be? Although mankind has invented a number of deadly weapons in the last few decades, there are few things that can compare with fear or devastation brought by coronavirus – type pandemics and bacteria.

It is ironic to contemplate that the tiniest and most primitive life forms – viruses and bacteria – continue to wreak havoc on humanity, despite the immense progress we have made in science. We have conquered almost everything and are still vulnerable to the most minuscule pathogens that have the power to terrify us every few years.

Coronavirus 101

Some things in life never change. It seems that our susceptibility to pathogens is one of these things, even though we possess far more intelligence and deadly weapons than these tiny bugs. The greatest tragedy is that most powerful nations can destroy the world several times over, but is yet to find a cure for the coronavirus outbreak.

Here is why you should be deeply concerned about the coronavirus.

Coronavirus Protective Mask in Public

1.     Globalization

Globalization is one of the buzzwords today. Thanks to the advances in telecommunications and transportation, the world has become increasingly interconnected. Our supply chains are crisscrossing the globe and it is not at all unusual for one product to have its components outsourced to far-flung places on the planet.

As appealing as it might seem, this has the potential of becoming our biggest downfall. This interconnectedness is now a medium through which the most dangerous germs and viruses can travel to different parts of the world. There has never been a higher risk for global pandemics to occur than today. The advancements in telecommunications is making the situation worse. The internet is becoming a breeding ground for mass disinformation, rumor-mongering, and paranoia that adds to the chaos. Governments and international bodies around the world are now finding themselves having to battle disinformation campaigns, in addition to the coronavirus epidemic itself.

2.     Pandemics Are the Biggest Killers of Humanity

We fear terrorism and the ominous threat of a global nuclear war. Yet, it is pathogens that are killing far more people than even the most destructive wars and acts of violence in today’s era.

The annual flu epidemic in America alone can kill anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 people each year in the US, according to the CDC. When it comes to the threat of terror attacks, we have not only committed trillions of dollars in this regard, but we continue to send our troops to the most dangerous war zones for mitigating this threat. But, how much attention are we really paying to epidemics that kill far more Americans each year and hundreds of thousands of citizens around the world?

Statistically speaking, the AIDS virus has killed about 32 million people worldwide, according to the UNAIDS statistics. The Spanish Flu has killed from 50 million to 100 million people around the world. The common flu continues to kill around 250,000 to 500,000 people each year. The Justinian Plague is estimated to have killed around 100 million people over the course of centuries. The epidemics that broke out in the Americas, as a result of colonial conquest, have decimated indigenous populations.

3.     Coronavirus Requires a New Vaccine

Every new outbreak means that a different vaccine must be developed to effectively combat the disease. These vaccines can take several months to develop, as President Trump discovered to his dismay.

President Trump recently met with pharmaceutical executives and encouraged them to accelerate their coronavirus vaccine development campaign. The executives reminded the president that even if they expedited the development efforts, it would still take up to a year and probably longer before the vaccine is ready.

Unfortunately, vaccine development can be a long, arduous and painstaking endeavor. New research is required since prior research is not applicable to the new strains of viruses and pathogens. This obviously means that a large number of people will die as a consequence of the long delay.

4.     Viruses Are Evolving and Becoming More Dangerous

Viruses and pathogens are getting stronger. The current coronavirus is a stronger mutated form of other weaker coronaviruses that we have long known about. The same applies to other viruses like Ebola – these viruses are more powerful versions of their original strains. What this means is that with time, these viruses are becoming better at surviving and better at killing us.

The present coronavirus has evolved from older coronavirus strains that were nowhere near as lethal or contagious.

Microbiologists and scientists have been warning us for years that viruses are evolving into powerful forms and have the potential to kill millions.

Along with the fear that the present coronavirus, if not contained, has the potential of killing as many as 50 million people worldwide. This frightening estimate was published on the New Scientist.

Gabriel Leung of Hong Kong University said that the coronavirus could possibly infect about 60% of the global population and given early estimates of its mortality rate, the outbreak can kill up to 50 million. This figure holds true for a death rate of one in a hundred. But, as some experts feared, later on, the coronavirus may have a death rate of 2% or two in one hundred. The fatalities will then be double if this is true.

The picture seems to get worse with each passing day. Compared with prior estimates of a two percent death rate, the latest estimates by the WHO put the coronavirus mortality rate at 3.4%. There is no other coronavirus that had such a high mortality rate or was so contagious.

5.         Another Disaster Around the Corner?

The Foreign Policy magazine has cited a report where it is feared that an apocalyptic epidemic with the potential of wiping out 80 million people is just about to break out.

The report was published by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, which is supported by WHO. The report quotes Nobel prize winner Joshua Lederberg and other leading scientists who said way back in 1989 that far from being vanquished, unknown microbes are now appearing in the wild that are more powerful and deadlier than ever before.

Unfortunately, the world took little notice of this doomsday alert. The coronavirus outbreak may just be the start. Who knows what else lies in wait for humanity?


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