As The World Stays At Home, Where Is The Pandemic Heading?

As The World Stays At Home, Where Is The Pandemic Heading?

From New York to Moscow, Johannesburg to Buenos Aires, the novel coronavirus continues its global journey. On March 30, almost three months after China announced the discovery of COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus, more than 780,000 people have been infected and at least 37,000 have died.

While the epidemic appears to be under control in China, the US is now the country most affected by the pandemic. In Europe, it would appear containment measures and lockdowns are beginning to bear fruit: in Italy, the figures indicate a slowdown in the number of infections.

All over the world countries are locking themselves off one after the other, closing their borders and confining their populations more and more drastically. The World Health Organization has welcomed these efforts. The world is slowing down and holding its breath. For how long?

As researchers around the world continue to decipher the consequences of this unprecedented situation and to seek solutions to the crisis, The Conversation’s international network continues to work with them to inform you as best as possible.

The fate of the epidemic

How long will we have to live with COVID-19? Could it possibly return? The history and modelling of epidemics can help find the answers.

  • Modelling past major epidemics can show how this one will unfold. This is what Adam Kleczkowski at the University of Strathclyde and Rowland Raymond Kao at the University of Edinburgh have done.

As The World Stays At Home, Where Is The Pandemic Heading? An example of a disease progress curve for a long-term scenario following the initial outbreak: quick eradication. The number of cases and duration of the epidemic for illustrative purpose only.

The fate of the pandemic will obviously depend on the weapons at our disposal to fight the coronavirus.

The coronavirus pandemic must not be allowed to overshadow other deadly diseases.

  • Tuberculosis and AIDS. Emily Wong at the University of KwaZulu-Natal draws attention to the fact that in South Africa, COVID-19 is adding to existing epidemics. Experts are concerned these patients are more at risk of developing severe forms of the disease.

A disease of biodiversity

Like many infectious diseases that affect humans, the COVID-19 pandemic is a zoonosis: the virus that comes from animals.

  • Bats? - Once again, this new virus probably originated from a bat. Eric Leroy at the Institut de recherche pour le développement explains why these mammals are a “usual suspect” for the transmission of viruses to humans (in French).

  • But it’s unfair to blame them, because they do us important services and must be protected, says Peter Alagona at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

As The World Stays At Home, Where Is The Pandemic Heading? There are over 1,200 different species of bats. mmariomm/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Rather than blaming these flying mammals, we’d be better off questioning our relationship to nature and biodiversity.

  • The symptom of a global environmental crisis? It could well be, write Philippe Grandcolas and Jean-Lou Justine at the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle (MNHN) (in French)

  • “This is not a tragedy for everyone. Some of our neighbours are doing better since we have retired to our apartments”, writes Jérôme Sueur at MNHN. Less human activity means less noise, which is actually a good thing for birds in our cities, in particular (in French).

Lockdown left behind

More and more of us are being confined in the hope of limiting the spread of the virus and relieving the unbearable strain on health systems. But not everyone is equal when it comes to lockdown and quarantine measures. Some groups are particular at risk.

  • Elderly or disabled people. In medical-social institutions, those who are already vulnerable are the big losers of containment measures, writes Emmanuelle Fillion at École des hautes études en santé publique (in French).

  • Prisoners. (in French) This is also the case of prisoners, whose fate worries the prison administration because of their proximity to the prison.

  • Those who can’t be confined. Alex Broadbent and Benjamin Smart at the University of Johannesburg point out that some cannot be locked down, or even implement adequate social distancing measures.

In addition to the risk of lockdown, heads of state face political risk: their every move is scrutinised and commented upon.

  • The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is no exception, explains Richard Calland at the University of Cape Town, but so far his government’s lockdown measures seem adequate, writes Philip Machanick at Rhodes University.

  • Conversely, as the epidemic is just entering a phase of exponential growth in Indonesia, Iqbal Elyazar at the Eijkman-Oxford Clinical Research Unit and his colleagues are urging the government to take tougher measures to avoid disaster.

  • In France, Catherine Le Bris at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne wonders how to reconcile emergency situations, the limitation of freedoms and the rule of law. The balance lies in the respect of human rights she argues (in French).

– Finally, Michael Baker at the University of Otago returns to the essential point of all these efforts: to control the pandemic. He is a professor of public health and is “overjoyed” that shutdowns are happening.

Revealing inequalities

The current pandemic is also exacerbating inequalities.

But the current crisis could also be an opportunity to explore ways to reduce inequalities and to test new approaches, particularly economic ones.

  • “Helicopter money”, a theory coined by the economist Milton Friedman in the 1970s, could be used to reduce inequality by distributing money directly to the population, explains Baptiste Massenot at TBS Business School (in French).

And finally, as a tribute to the “heroes in white coats”, The Conversation has published a series of testimonies from clinicians and researchers operating on the front lines of the pandemic – and providing advice on the conversations we should now be having with our loved ones.

About The Author

Lionel Cavicchioli, Chef de rubrique Santé, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Recommended books:

Capital in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas Piketty. (Translated by Arthur Goldhammer)

Capital in the Twenty-First Century Hardcover by Thomas Piketty.In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, says Thomas Piketty, and may do so again. A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature
by Mark R. Tercek and Jonathan S. Adams.

Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature by Mark R. Tercek and Jonathan S. Adams.What is nature worth? The answer to this question—which traditionally has been framed in environmental terms—is revolutionizing the way we do business. In Nature’s Fortune, Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy and former investment banker, and science writer Jonathan Adams argue that nature is not only the foundation of human well-being, but also the smartest commercial investment any business or government can make. The forests, floodplains, and oyster reefs often seen simply as raw materials or as obstacles to be cleared in the name of progress are, in fact as important to our future prosperity as technology or law or business innovation. Nature’s Fortune offers an essential guide to the world’s economic—and environmental—well-being.

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Beyond Outrage: What has gone wrong with our economy and our democracy, and how to fix it -- by Robert B. Reich

Beyond OutrageIn this timely book, Robert B. Reich argues that nothing good happens in Washington unless citizens are energized and organized to make sure Washington acts in the public good. The first step is to see the big picture. Beyond Outrage connects the dots, showing why the increasing share of income and wealth going to the top has hobbled jobs and growth for everyone else, undermining our democracy; caused Americans to become increasingly cynical about public life; and turned many Americans against one another. He also explains why the proposals of the “regressive right” are dead wrong and provides a clear roadmap of what must be done instead. Here’s a plan for action for everyone who cares about the future of America.

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This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement
by Sarah van Gelder and staff of YES! Magazine.

This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement by Sarah van Gelder and staff of YES! Magazine.This Changes Everything shows how the Occupy movement is shifting the way people view themselves and the world, the kind of society they believe is possible, and their own involvement in creating a society that works for the 99% rather than just the 1%. Attempts to pigeonhole this decentralized, fast-evolving movement have led to confusion and misperception. In this volume, the editors of YES! Magazine bring together voices from inside and outside the protests to convey the issues, possibilities, and personalities associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement. This book features contributions from Naomi Klein, David Korten, Rebecca Solnit, Ralph Nader, and others, as well as Occupy activists who were there from the beginning.

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