A pandemic can be described as a rapid spread of a highly infectious disease to a considerable number of people across a large area like multiple continents or across the globe at a rapid rate. Humans are not new to pandemics as they have experienced countless of them over their course of history. At any given point in the human timeline, there is always an ongoing pandemic, HIV AIDS, for instance, has affected millions across borders, and it is still ongoing. The world is currently staring down at the birth of a possible devastating pandemic in the form of the new Coronavirus that is ravaging through Wuhan. It has killed 1000 and has already been reported in 28 other countries. There are countless signs and reasons indicating that humans are facing a major pandemic, and they include the following.
An Increase In The Number Of Diseases
The modern world has seen more new diseases than other times before. Novel diseases that have never been documented keep popping up every year with high resistance to treatment. Many believe that humans engineer a majority of these diseases, but the fact remains that they are deadly, and they spread pretty fast, making them a global concern. The last ten years have seen the emergence of new viral diseases like SARS, Zika, and now the new Wuhan Coronavirus.
Suppression Of Information
Many governments find it very difficult to admit to the world that they are facing a dangerous disease outbreak, and the reasons are both political and economic. Unfortunately, suppressing information about an outbreak of this proportion only serves to spread the disease since no one will treat them with the level of seriousness that it deserves. For example, most recently here have been accusations of misinformation against the Chinese government. It has been accused of using all its resources to muzzle information about the new coronavirus outbreak. There are claims that the death toll could be higher than reported.
Reinvention Of Diseases
Diseases like Ebola, Rift Valley Fever, and others that have been around for a while keep appearing every ten years having mutated, making it hard for any available treatment that had previously worked. As the viruses keep shifting and changing, humans are forced to keep updating their counters, and at times, this is never fast enough.
Congested Urban Centers
Urban centers around the world house more people than they can support. Crowded commuter vehicles, streets, malls, residential complexes only make it easier for a disease pandemic to get a strong foothold. It is much easier for a disease to spread in a densely populated area than in a rural setting where daily contact is much less.
Climate change is the annoying neighbor that refuses to go away but instead meddles with everything. Natural disasters are on the rise as the global climate deviates away from the usual. One effect of these deviations is flooding, which is usually followed by disease outbreaks. Floods bring a horde of problems with them, from waterborne disease to mosquitoes within the tropics.
Increase In Global Travel
It is now easier and cheaper to travel around the world than it was 20 years ago. Factor in union blocs like the EU, which does not even demand visas from people of member countries, and you have yourself a global village. Spreading a disease from one corner of the earth to another now only needs a flight ticket and 24hrs, and it is done. Bugs that would otherwise be confined to one area now carry the risk of blowing into a pandemic within days. Global travel is how SARS was swiftly spread in 2003 when patient zero traveled from Huang Xinchu to Hong Kong.
Very few countries on earth have anything that resembles a pandemic countermeasure, and even those that have, are never adequate. The number of doctors and nurses around the world does not match the population they have to serve. Hospitals get stretched to their limits during pandemics, and when a nation is unprepared for it, these hospitals end up turning into spreading centers instead of treatment centers. China was forced to build new hospitals within a week as the Coronavirus started becoming a menace, and this is not enough so far.
Exotic Animal Diets
Eating an exotic dish is just another fancy word for eating an animal that should never be found on any plate. There’s a big market for exotic meat in the world, but there is danger in that many wild animals carry various diseases that can easily cross over to humans. It is no coincidence that China has been ground zero for most of the new disease outbreaks. The Chinese are known for their love of exotic meat, which has been linked to the crossing over of viral diseases from animals to humans.
Weaponizing Of Pathogens
It has happened before, and it will be naïve to believe that the weaponizing of microorganisms for use against enemies in wars is not currently underway. Many governments may have signed international treaties, but the risk of secret labs developing dangerous diseases that can turn into pandemics when released is forever present.
Melting Of The Glaciers
In 2016, a boy in the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia died of what looked like an anthrax infection. It happened after he was exposed to a carcass of a reindeer that may have been killed by the disease seven decades earlier, but had been preserved under the ice. It is believed that there are quite a number of long-forgotten viruses trapped in permafrost, as the ice continues to melt due to global warming, there is fear that these viruses will be unleashed again and humans will be unable to fight against them.
The Coronavirus has now killed more than 1,000 people, and the number is expected to rise. No one has yet been able to figure the disease out or how to effectively halt its spread. If history is of any indication, the Coronavirus will not be the last disease that humans have to deal with. It is merely a continuation of the trend where more dangerous viral infections keep appearing even before humans get the chance to deal with the previous one.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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