What Can COVID-19 Teach Us?

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

By now (April 1), the numbers have allotted to almost 900,000 confirmed cases and more than 40,000 deaths worldwide. The novel coronavirus (nCoV-19) has come, it seems, to stay for a while.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, all eyes have been focused on health issues only. Minds are preoccupied with the nostalgic past or the seemingly distant, blurry future, or simply in shock of what has dawned upon the humankind. Politics are irrelevant, religion is put aside; the borders are broken (albeit metaphorically) and nationality is a big hoax when it comes to a microorganism that is threatening every single one of us.

For official information about the coronavirus, as well as ways to combat it, please visit the World Health Organization COVID-19 web-page.

The coronavirus outbreak is an event unprecedented in at least the past 100 years. Germany's Angela Merkel says it is the most challenging event "since the second world war" after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a "global pandemic." A threat to humanity, the world has stood "united" to fight it.

Despite the concerning numbers around the world, and the saddening news from Europe in the past weeks, humans can learn a few things from this pandemic - things that should probably accompany us throughout the post-COVID-19 era.

Challenging Our Lifestyles

Since the outbreak in China, the WHO has been frivolously trying to spread awareness on how to fight the coronavirus - and all other types of microorganisms. It is pretty simple. On the individual level, it is important to maintain a hygienic lifestyle. This means washing hands frequently for 20+ seconds with soap and warm water, sanitizing (with at least 70% alcohol in the sanitizing gel), and disinfecting your surroundings. On the societal level, this means social distancing, self-isolating, and quarantine (or as known in the U.S., "corn teen").

It has become evident that people in general were not aware of such practices before the outbreak. It seems, sadly, that "washing hands" is not as common as one might think. That is perhaps the most basic hygiene one can maintain. In countries like the United States and Australia, people started panic-buying basic household essentials and food stocking. One particular phenomenon is the craze of buying toilet paper.

What is the coronavirus teaching us that we did not know before? In reality, nothing new. But here's a concerning statistic for you (at least if you're in the U.S.): according to a 2009 study by the CDC, 69% of men do not wash their hands after using the restroom. My guess is that after this pandemic is behind us, a lot of people will change how they live, starting from washing hands properly.

Healthcare Preparedness

Who would have thought that a country with one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world would collapse in just two weeks because of a virus? Well, no one. In Israel, the healthcare system has been neglected and overlooked so much so that now, there are talks about serious reparations in the system. There is no country in the world with a hospital capacity that can treat the coronavirus outbreak.

After this is all behind us, I think there will be serious preparations for the next pandemic, in addition to reworking some of the failed aspects of the healthcare systems. In Israel, for example, the Minister of Health is a rabbi who knows nothing about healthcare - something that makes no sense, because he does not fully understand the challenges that the healthcare has to face every day.

There will also be a much more systematic awareness of healthcare necessities: tools, machinery, and basic protection garments, as well as sanitation products. To prepare for the next pandemic (which, according to science, is inevitable), there needs to be a more stable and sustainable system. Globally, the countries were not ready to handle the truth of the pandemic knocking at their doors. This in itself is dangerous.

Donald Trump, for instance, believed it was "just the flu." Here's a misleading tweet that he posted in March 9! This week, Trump came out with an estimation that 240 thousand people will die from COVID19.

Healthcare preparedness is key when it comes to fighting off pandemics. Flattening the curve is done by not only isolation, but also efficient and prepared healthcare, where hospitals can swiftly hospitalize patients and release them after they have recovered at the same pace, or even quicker!

In his book, Laurie Garrett demonstrates the fact that healthcare is the most important factor in how and when healthcare systems can beat the viruses.

Outbreaks [are] aided and abetted by inept health systems, human behavior, and the complete lack of consistent political and financial support for disease-fighting preparedness everywhere in the world.

After the coronavirus pandemic, things will change fundamentally. Healthcare systems that have been neglected, overlooked, and marginalized, with little or no attention when it comes to budgets and finance, will surely become the center of attention after this is over. It has become evident that they were merely an afterthought of the world governments.

Surely, countries that did not see the virus coming will start developing teams and funding laboratories to provide 24/7 study and examining of virology, epidemiology, and disease control. This is in preparation for the next pandemic, which, according to science, it will come.

There will be more attention given to keeping a reserve stock of face masks, hand sanitation, gloves, and mechanical ventilators. The shortage of these equipment is very sad in 2020.

Switching to Technology Solutions

After several states shut down restaurants, bars, and fast food chains, as well as other types of businesses, everyone (including those who were not previously familiar) switched to home deliveries. If anything, it showed us how technological transformations can happen. There are lots of reasons why food deliveries and takeaways are much more convenient for the modern world, apart from the fact that "it is nice to get out once in a while".

Not only can deliveries provide an easier access to food - not having to wait in line or leave the comfort of your couch - but they can also make it easier for the workers themselves to prepare the food without having to be in contact with the customer.

Technological solutions have been trending for more than a decade now, and the coronavirus proved more than anything that (1) it is easy to operate through technology and (2) it is more convenient. After this pandemic, we'll see more businesses switch to technological methods of staying in the game.

Final Thoughts

If the coronavirus can teach us anything in life, it's that human beings are the most vulnerable creatures on Earth. A tiny microscopic virus can not only cause worldwide panic, but it can wipe us off the face of this planet. What does that tell us? Where does that leave us? World governments have left everything in hand to fight this virus, caring not about politics, race, religion, or nationality, but about saving lives.

There are reports that wildlife is "taking over" the empty streets of cities in the United States, Japan, and even Tel Aviv, Israel. In addition, levels of air pollution in Italy and China have diminished, from where you could only see blurry and foggy landscapes, to the point where the sky is crystal-clear.

The Earth is taking a break, and we should let her do just that.

For now, don’t get bored. Wash your hands, and don’t touch your face. And most importantly, #StayHome!

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#StayHome / #Coronavirus / #COVID19 / #Quarantine

Copyright © 2021 by Tarek Gara. All Rights Reserved.

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