Winning the Coronavirus Battle

Photo by British Library on Unsplash

After writing the previous article about COVID-19 in February, I didn’t expect to write a second one this month. Because I wasn’t expecting the outbreak — now, a pandemic — to last this long.

The first wave of the pandemic was quieted down around the end of February in China. Thanks to the lockdown on individual cities, the number of confirmed cases had been stabilized. Just when people were getting optimistic and thinking it was going to be over, the second wave began in mid-March.

By the end of April, the second wave in Europe and North America had been stabilized. This time, people were not only getting optimistic again. Some of them also wanted to stop the quarantine completely. And to get back to their normal lives right away.

But is our battle with the virus finished yet? If not, what is going to happen to our daily lives meanwhile?

On the frontline

The Gates Foundation — established by Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates — is the biggest funder of vaccines in the world. And it has been working with governments for epidemics like Ebola, SARS, and Zika.

According to the excellent article published by Gates last month, the cure for COVID-19 is nowhere in sight. But the vaccine should be available in about 18 months.

When people — myself included — hear this number the first time, they will be asking why it is taking this long. However, when they understand it usually takes 5 years to create a vaccine, they start to realize 18 months is already a big bargain.

On the other hand, the second wave of the pandemic seems to be slowing down in recent weeks. Yet according to the World Health Organization, the number of daily new cases in major countries is still in the range of thousands. Here are the numbers of new cases in major countries as of yesterday (2020-May-20):

  • U.S.A. — 13,227
  • Russia — 8,764
  • U.K. — 2,412
  • Brazil — 13,140
  • India — 5,611

Looking at these numbers and knowing the vaccine won’t be available until 18 months later, our battle with the virus is obviously far from over.

New normal mode

Having said that, I don’t believe we can afford — both physically and mentally — to keep suspending our lives until the number of new cases goes to zero.

On one hand, it is silly for people to protest against the quarantine, simply because they want to play golf or to have a haircut. But there are some essential activities we need to resume as a normal society. For instance, students going back to school, or workers resuming work in food-related factories.

So what I believe is, we would live our lives coexisting with the virus in the next year or two. And the face masks will become part of our clothing for going out, whether we like it or not.

Some cities like Hong Kong are going to give reusable face masks to their residents. So people don’t have to line up for hours or pay a premium price for buying disposable masks.

Thus, there is no doubt we will be restarting our lives. Just in the semi or new normal mode.

Year of survival

After ensuring we don’t get sick going to work or to school, the next thing we want to ensure is the security of our jobs or the economy in general.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy is going to drop sharply by –3% this year. It is much worse than during the 2008–09 financial crisis. But assuming the pandemic fades in the second half of this year, the economy is expected to grow by 5.8% next year.

Different types of business would probably rebound at different speeds. Travel related companies like airlines or cruises would take longer since most countries are still under various levels of lockdown.

But local businesses like restaurants or gyms would be the first group to pick up, as people start to go out more within their cities.

Based on the forecast from the IMF, the important task for businesses is to get through this year. And next year should get better for most of them.

Supporting the frontline

So meanwhile, what can we do as individuals?

Well, after months of quarantine at home, not able to see our friends and families, it is understandable why some of us are frustrated.

Another reason people are frustrated is the face masks. Try wearing a face mask going outdoors with temperature over 30 degrees celsius. And you will know what I am talking about.

But for all the doctors and nurses treating COVID-19 patients in hospitals, our sacrifices seem to be trivial when comparing to theirs. Because they are risking their own health — even their lives, in some cases — to treat us when we get infected.

So as individuals, here are two things we can do to help: Minimizing our gatherings and wearing face masks when going out or meeting people.

These two simple tasks are essential to help our doctors and nurses to fight the virus. And it is not just because we should help them, it is because we should help them to help us.

Winning the war

Crises are always unprecedented.

Every time a new crisis comes in, people lose hope because it is something we’ve never seen before. But we should understand every crisis is new and different, that’s why we consider it a crisis.

Yet every crisis will end. No matter it is the MERS in 2018, the SARS in 2003, or the financial crisis in 2008. All of them have passed like every other one.

And the world goes on.

We need to understand the COVID-19 pandemic is a long war rather than a quick battle. We need to stay positive ourselves, so we can help others around us to stay that way.

We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. All we have to do is, maintaining our fight together to get there.

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