Corona virus and the politics of international pandemics
What is the long term future
Corona virus and the politics of international pandemics.
Due to the international nature of this (year 2020) Corona virus contagion, politics have to be involved. Politicians like to divert attention away from their own shortcomings by blaming others for just about anything. It is also a common practice to reveal “bad” domestic news while attention is focused on international worse news. Once this present problem gets under some semblance of control this political blame game will start in earnest. What is known now? Not a lot.
There are many reports claiming that the Coronavirus epidemic started in China when a worker at a research facility, funded by American money, became infected with the virus, apparently “catching” it from a bat virus that was being studied.
All of these claims have to be treated with caution, evidence is going to be very hard to find, real evidence that can stand up in a court of law will be even harder to obtain. Just reading these few lines reminds us of science fiction. Why would Americans be providing a Chinese research facility with millions of dollars in funding? ( Possible answer because regulation is less and easier to evade than in USA) Why would anyone be studying a virus only found in a particular sub species of a bat? (Possible answer; the Americans love bats and want to find a cure for this bat disease. Another possible answer is that it was and is, part of a germ warfare project. Just as anthrax was a good many years ago. There are many other possible reasons, all equally valid.)
What ever the reason for the research, the present theory is that the person infected then infected her boyfriend and the contagion started spreading through the local community, then into the whole world. Logic suggests that if this was a deliberate attempt at using germ warfare then the”outbreak” would not have started until the people behind this had an antidote, a vaccine, a cure, to prevent themselves being killed. Or at least ready to sell to the world at vast profit. So this suggests the actual pandemic, at this time, is an accident.
This still does not explain why such dangerous research is being done without absolutely impenetrable containment procedures. It does help understand why the Chinese government did not lock down the area until after the virus had spread. One factor is that the disease could have been quite widespread, within the local community, before anyone showed symptoms of illness. Because of this the facility may not have realised it was the original source of the infection. It may not have known the virus had escaped, until tests on those infected showed a link to the virus they were studying. It is a reasonable assumption that the research facility did not inform the government about the escape of the virus, until well after it first occurred. Given the record of the Chinese governing authorities, regarding the penalties for saying “ we messed up,” this is in some ways understandable. It is also possible that the facility would delay information until after consulting with the American financiers, and they may have been reluctant to do anything until after they had removed all traces of their own involvement.
Whatever the reasons for a delay in attempting to contain the spread of the virus, it was out and chaos took over. Not necessarily chaos in the sense of muddled administrative actions but in the scientific meaning of complete disorder without predictability. The patterns of pandemic spread have been studied before but our modern world has ever changing transmission methods, due to ever increasing physical mobility of people and so the speed of spread was faster then expected. The time delay between actual infection and the appearance of symptoms, is such that initial recognition of the scale of the problem did not occur until too late. This is no one persons failing. It is very hard to prevent something that you do not know is happening. Because of this gap between actual infection and the appearance of signs of that infection, the virus had been spread all round the world, at least all round those parts of the world connected to air and sea travel, before action to stop it could be taken. Since this is a virus that is spread by infected droplets expelled by an infected person coughing; isolation seems to be a preventative measure. It is still thought that the droplets landing on surfaces, such as door handles, can still transmit to the next person touching that handle. It is widely accepted that the virus can only survive outside a human body for around 70 hours.
Social isolation still seems to best way to prevent the spread but people used to city life are not psychologically equipped for social isolation. It is strange that those most as risk of getting the disease (not necessarily being killed by it) are those who live in closely connected communities and yet these are the same people most likely to rebel against isolation. The biggest danger from the virus is not necessarily the symptoms of the virus; it is that if added to other pre-existing health problems, particularly repository ones, it can cause death.
The greater fear is that the chaotic nature of virus based pandemics contains one factor which makes it potentially devastating. This is that mutation in the virus may make it more harmful to people without any pre-existing conditions. If this happens and also if social isolation breaks down, then the world death toll will rise exponentially. Politics will have to wait.
In European history, the incredible numbers of deaths in the middle ages due to Bubonic plague, caused social, religious and political changes. The percentage of the population who died, changed not only the economies of the nations but also the social structures. A feudal society was based on having cheap labour that was totality dependant on the local ruling elite. The death of so many people changed this because those who survived now had a “value.” Manual labour became relatively scarce and since everything depended on such labour, workers had to be given greater respect, better wages etc. It also started the quest for mechanical replacements to human and animal exertion as a means of production. This last aspect is still having repercussions in the 21st century. The politics of rule by a king (who was thought to be chosen by God to rule over everyone;) became gradually diluted and slowly evolved into the democracies of present European nations. So pandemics can cause huge political changes.