Now, the coronavirus is destroying the world, and its pandemic has cut off normal social relationships, suspended most international travel, and hit the economy and trade hard.
A few years later, what will the world look like when this sharp crisis subsides?
There is a widespread expectation that the arrival of a vaccine will help us fight against COVID-19.
Unfortunately, the future is still extremely uncertain. Can the vaccine be effectively resisted? Its effect on different diseases varies.
Some vaccines (such as smallpox and yellow fever vaccines) do survive decades, but influenza vaccines are still valid for less than a year, and malaria and AIDS do not currently exist, although we have made great efforts to develop vaccines.
The flu virus mutates frequently and varies proportionally from strain to another, so several new vaccines must be developed every year.
Polio and smallpox vaccines protect all people, while influenza and cholera vaccines only protect about half of the people who are vaccinated. Therefore, we can’t predict how effective the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine will be.
Scientists from China, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and other countries are competing to develop a coronavirus vaccine, and the results may be the worst, the best or the worst.
There are many preliminary signs of worst-case scenarios.
Even if some countries do develop vaccines and find effective through trials, it will not be possible to produce and distribute the 7.7 billion doses of vaccines needed by 7.7 billion people around the world overnight. At the beginning, supply will be scarce.
Who can get the first batch of vaccines? Under the usual program, the first vaccines should be provided to medical staff, because all others need the help of medical staff.
After that, the rich and powerful have hope to get vaccines before the poor and ordinary people.
These selfish considerations exist in addition to the countries that first developed an effective vaccine, but also exist internationally: countries that develop vaccines will inevitably put their citizens first, and this priority has occurred in the supply of masks – masks were scarce a few months ago, when masks from China were shipped to Europe.
There was looting and bidding among countries trying to ensure their own supplies. Worse than the mask situation, the first country to develop a vaccine may embargo political and economic competitors.
But after careful consideration, it can be found that selfish national policies may be counterproductive.
Because no country can achieve lasting security by eliminating the novel coronavirus at home, in today’s globalized world, the novel coronavirus epidemic can easily enter other countries from countries that have not yet eradicated the virus.
Ships are anchored on the banks of the Briganga River in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, on April 3, 2020. In order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Bangladesh announced a nationwide lockdown from March 26, 2020.
This is true of New Zealand and Vietnam. Strict measures did stop local transmission, but the resumption of travel led to the import of new cases. This proves a key conclusion: No country is safe in the face of COVID-19, unless all countries are safe.
This is a global problem and requires a global program.
I regard this fact as good news. We also face other global problems that require a global program: especially the consequences of climate change, the depletion of world resources and the inequality caused by globalization among the countries of the world.
Just as no country can escape the epidemic by eliminating viruses at home, no country can protect itself from climate change by reducing fossil fuel dependence and domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Like COVID-19, atmospheric CO2 will not adhere to the “political border”.
But climate change, resource depletion and inequality pose a far greater threat to our survival and quality of life than the current epidemic. Even in the worst-case scenario, everyone on the planet has been infected with the coronavirus and 2% of the people have died as a result, and only 154 million people have died.
Compared with the novel coronavirus, the danger posed to human beings by climate change, resource depletion and inequality is the big worry.
So why aren’t we as up and act to fight climate change and other global threats, as we’re dealing with COVID-19? The answer is obvious: COVID-19 has caught our attention because it can cause illness, death and obvious consequences in a few days or weeks.
On the contrary, climate change is slowly engulfing us, and the consequences are much more vague – which need to be seen through indirect consequences such as declining food production, hunger, extreme weather events, and the spread of tropical diseases to temperate zones. Therefore, we have been slow to recognize that climate change, a global threat, requires a global response.
Therefore, the coronavirus epidemic has given us hope. Although I am also extremely saddened by the death of the coronavirus among relatives and friends, for the first time in history, the world has been forced to admit that we face a common threat, and no country can overcome it on its own.
If the countries of the world can be forced to unite against the coronavirus, we may learn from it and take the initiative to unite against climate change, resource depletion and inequality. If so, the coronavirus pandemic will bring not only tragedy, but also redemption – it will finally put mankind on the road to sustainability.