As per WHO, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
WHO has already declared its epidemic and has given 12 billion dollars to fight this. I have been following COCID-19 since its first outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019, more so as it was taking rounds daily in scientific news all over the world with increasing page space per day. Now, as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, India is reached the third stage of COVID-19 spread with 2566 active reported cases and national lockdown since 22nd March on the appeal of PM Narendra Modi. In the midst of the fight of the world against Corona, I have learned a few very important Lessons:
- Science is one absolute religion for all. In the present situation all the religious institutions, companies, educational institutions, and others have closed their doors for social distancing, the only doors which are open are of research institutions and hospitals. It makes one think to donate their precious money for research in science instead of religious institutions. Personalized stories can always move people and it’s the first time that these stories can move people towards science.
- All humans are equal. As per Iraj Harirchi, Deputy Health Minister of Iran, the virus is Democratic. It does not distinguish between poor and rich, statesmen or ordinary people. When it comes to an epidemic, money, status, religion, color, education, beauty all become negligible. The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the disease, it’s a transmission and it’s spread. Everyone has to protect themselves and others from infection such as in case of COVID-19 by washing hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently, practicing respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow) and not touching your face. Prevention is 100% better than as there is no cure, yet.
- Family First. When you are at a hairline distance from death, the only ones who matter are your family. Your work, position, social status, money in bank accounts, the property you own all become meaningless. COVID-19 has told us to live while we still can. Spend quality time with loved ones. Indulge in your hobbies and travel the world or your own country for that matter when the situation is resolved. To actually talk to people and understand them.
- The feeling of belongingness always works. When we feel attached, we automatically take specific actions. AS witnessed by the whole world on 23rd March, 133.9 crore people put themselves on self-quarantine. They might be afraid as we have been studying and thinking about how the world will end for decades and it’s finally happening when such an epidemic has come upon us. As we say faith can move mountains. People’s faith that this self-quarantine can help their country fight Corona motivated them to go for it.
- Idiots are always going to be there and you can’t do anything about that. This thing we have seen in every country, in China, in South Korea, in India, when one idiot who didn’t know their place, roamed around in mass gatherings, partied while he still can and thrown their country in Stage 3 of COVID-19 from Stage 1.
- Inequality makes people vulnerable. As COVID-19 broadened its presence, we all saw how the richest took their private planes and landed in their safe heavens. The higher middle class at least had health insurance, but what about the drivers, daily wage workers, house helps, cleaners and other low paid workers. They are going to be the highest hit by COVID-19 even if the vaccine arrives. When you can’t give even two times food to your family, what COVID-19 can do to you, you are going to die none the less.
- Eating vegetarian and sustainably is the key to life. Non-vegetarian food takes more energy to create and earth has enough for everyone’s need but none for anyone’s greed.
- Stay alert, act fast and learn from experience. Taiwan is the only country that has escaped itself from the COVID-19 as it acted fast. It used its experience from SARS at light’s speed. Adaptive policies which can be implemented quickly are the need of the hour. Taiwan adopted a bottom-up approach to complement top-down efforts. It was proactive, had clarity on what to do and how. They relocated their manpower flexibly to different activities and were prepared for faster recovery than expected from other countries.
- Importance of cleanliness and proper procedures. Gandhian philosophy of cleanliness and self-control is the key to stop the spread of COVID-19. Proper procedures help to track the people infected and the people who have come in contact with them. An excellent example of this was shown by South Korea when they sent messages to their population about the location of COVID-19 infected people, carried out mass tests at those locations and were successfully able to manage through the virus.
- Coordination, be it a home, an office, educational institution or country. If you have not coordinated with your family members, you are going to get COVID-19 in your home. If various branches of government such as Ministries, the Civil administration, hospitals, and the general public do not coordinate, the country can’t fight against this epidemic. Work hard and constantly making progress from your efforts is fruitful only with coordination.
- One person can make a difference. At the Call of PM Narendra Modi, all Indians stood up with him. Bill Gates has predicted that COVID-19 will kill over 10 million people and for this reason, he has committed $100 million for this. Chen Qiushi and Dr. Li Wenliang from China were torchbearers of the truth even when their government stood against them. So as per Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
- Social media. All social media platforms are very useful when it comes to the display of information to a large number of people but it can also prove very dangerous if the information is id incorrect. So, to be aware of the fake news which has been spread on social media platforms is the need of the hour. In case of any information, check the site of the Ministry of Health and Family welfare.
- Look for the opportunity in adversity. Actively look up at new habits that are being formed. As in the present Indian situation, online classes business has shot up as exams are near. It is highly possible that more people will opt for the online mode of education in the future when they will see its advantages now. So adaptive recovery strategies can be made for different sectors. The only need is rapid innovation and understanding of the market.
- Mental peace is very important when we stay at home. Keep calm and go back to basics like board games, yoga or simply chit chat. Suggesting things people can do to prepare for the possible time to come does just get them better prepared logistically and emotionally. So, I suggest you get rid of the old to make way for the new. The grass always seems greener on the other side, so try to look from others’ perspectives maybe you hit a jackpot. Believe that this will also pass. Stay in present not in the past or the future, just in present and enjoy your new find free time in constructive activities. Take this as a challenge and plan your day.
Hope is not a strategy. It is the beauty of the science that all the important things are unpredictable, which makes me think that nature has designed to make the universe as interesting as possible. In this beautiful world, I would rather be accused of overreacting then of not doing my job. I hope everyone will have their lightbulb moment like I did when they realize what they really care about. My Manifesto is, to tell the truth about the reality of working in science and we won’t get there by wishing.
COVID-19 must have been there the entire time as it’s everywhere already. For a long time, I have thought that scientist is someone who knows everything about one specific thing. But when I closely followed the COVID-19, I realized I was wrong.
Even one scientist doesn’t know everything about one thing but has to rely on others. If even a scientist has relied on others who have produced dozens of papers in ‘Nature’, we mortals can certainly rely on each other to not let this spread any further. Let me remind you all that this is not a drill, this is not the time to give up, this is not the time for excuses, this is the time to pull out all the stops immediately.
It all started in China. Later was discovered as the strain of Corona and started making sense, how it has evolved. Now is the time for crisis planning and response. To make and implement a recovery strategy. But once recovered we should not sit but look for a post-recovery strategy for the economy and wellbeing of the nation. We should reflect and learn from COVID-19 as a person, as a family, as an institution, as a country, and as a human.