The world appears to be on its knees with the widespread of the rampaging novel coronavirus disease: COVID-19. Schools closed; world economy has been brought to a halt; medical workers becoming the new celebrities; and people forced to stay home. Has the world ever been subjected to this way of living before?
You may want to Make a case for previous pandemics like the Spanish Flu, Black Death, the Third Plague, and their likes to be as deadly as COVID-19. But the argument remains, of how disruptive were they to the then world as COVID-19 is to the world in the twenty-first century.
Whether or not they were as disruptive as COVID-19, what history has taught us however, is that man will survive this; but more pandemics are to be expected.
I do not wish to be the doomsday prophet. On the contrary, I would have loved to come to you with a prophecy of a world without plaques and diseases. But when the root cause of a disease such as COVID-19 is unknown to a technology-savvied world, then we should be concerned.
The only consistent fact -- which also is subject to contestation -- about the root of COVID-19 is Wuhan. The root cause has however, only been opened to theories.
Should we believe that COVID-19 is as a result of the wet market in Wuhan? Or should we lean toward the school of thought that says it was a product of the Wuhan Institute of Virology? Either way, the world needs to prepare for more diseases.
Going by the first theory, Coronavirus is one of the many animal-to-man infectious diseases that has ravaged the world and yet to come.
The root causes of known deadly diseases like Ebola, Lassa, HIV/AIDS, SARS, MERS, and Zika have all been traced back to human-animal contacts.
According to statistics from WHO, bloodsucking-insect related diseases have surged to 17 percent across the world with more than 700,000 deaths annually.
The more contact we have with the wild -- in the name of development, advancement or sourcing for meat -- the more risk we will be exposed to.
The bushmeats we source after for food or for trado-medical drugs are mostly disease pathogens.
Dr Samuel Myers, an Environmentalist while speaking with The Independent Newspaper in the UK says,“Human incursions into wildlife habitat bring people into closer proximity with wildlife populations."
Dr Myers further added, “What we know is that other animals are an enormous reservoir of pathogens, many of which we haven’t yet been exposed to.”
This may seem strange as human and wildlife contacts have been in existence as old as the world itself. Bushmeat has been another source of protein in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe since the beginning of time, and there appears to be no problem. Why now?
Climate change and globalization would be the probable causes. Just like humans, these viruses mutate (adapt) to stay alive as climate changes. They get resilient and are spread easily as the world becomes one global village.
These viruses have always been present in these bushmeats. But they have become stronger as they fight to remain alive. They now survive in regions they normally would not have, and are easily transmitted as people from one end of the world transact with people from other ends.
This is more of a reason climate change has to be fought harder than what the world has hitherto done.
Wildlife should be protected. People should be discouraged from sourcing it for food, through proper education of the inherent dangers in doing so.
It is pleasing to know virologists are helping create a way out of viral infections as they are currently doing against COVID-19. If, however, COVID-19 is a direct product of virologists in a Wuhan lab as some have resorted to believe, then the world is in dire straits and there should be stringent actions against China.
But could it be true that China produced and released the COVID-19 virus?
Well, anything is possible in a world where any country or persons in power would do anything to attain a level of superiority over others.
If it was easy for the Syrian government to have used chemical weapons on its own citizens, then any country could develop and use biological weapons against its oppositions: this is frightening to say the least.
Whether from the lab or the wild, the world should learn from coronavirus, and have a measure put in place to fight or contain future pandemics.
If COVID-19 is successfully fought, we should not go relaxing. We should put up measures to prevent future diseases.
Countries should be made to truly report suspected sources of epidemic within its borders to WHO. This would help contain whatever diseases that could hold the world to ransom.
Stay safe; stay healthy.