By Lekpele M. Nyamalon
Monrovia- The World woke up to the news of patient zero in Wuhan China and in days, weeks and months, the entire Global Community shut its doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic that had taken the world over by storm. In retrospect, pandemics are not novel to the global community.
In their book ‘Why Nations Fail’, by academics Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, they averred that major pandemics in history shifted the world order:
‘In 1346 the Bubonic plague the Black Death reached the port city of Tana at the mouth of the River Don on the Black Sea. Transmitted by fleas living on rats, the plague was brought from China by traders traveling along the silk road, the great trans-Asian commercial artery. By 1347, the plague had reached Constantinople and by 1348, it had spread through France and North Africa and up to the boot of Italy. It is reported that the plague wiped out about half of the population of any area it hit.’
‘Another notable pandemic in the 19th century was the Spanish flu. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ‘The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918.’
It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40-year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic.’
However, the Novel Corona Virus, dubbed COVID-19, affected the world in unprecedented proportions — locking down the entire world to their homes and connecting them only via technology. From concert halls, to board room meetings to gyms and fitness centers, the entire world migrated to a ‘new normal’ held together by Technology. Thus, a new world evolved by the help of the American communications technology giant, ZOOM.
COVID-19 is taking its toll on a global scale with unimaginable magnitude. According to the New York Times, Argentina, Brazil, Britain, France, India, Russia and the United States have each reported at least 100,000 new cases of the coronavirus pushing the global tally to more than 40.7 million
The New York Times also reported that the United States has reported 421,114 new cases over the past week.
These statistics point to very troubling times in the Global World Order, affecting Trade, Commerce, Tourism, Education and basically keeping the rest of the world on its toes.
The rise of COVID-19, the world-wide lockdown and paralysis of global economic activity, along with the shutdown of airlines, left the entire world lying on its belly thus giving the world a rude awakening that the effects of a crisis are not limited to where they start. Like Acemoglu & Robison intoned in their book, Why Nations Fail, the rest of the world has reached a point of what Acemoglu & Robinson refer to as ‘Critical Junctures in History’. What global shift can the world have from the lessons of COVID-19 and what are the opportunities to guide us if our only outlet of connection is threatened? What happens if the world goes through a global cyber-attack, affecting banks, payment systems, e-commerce, social media, power grids, navigation systems, etc?
The Technology cold war between the US and China has to reach a responsible paradigm to avoid a global disaster of unimaginable proportions. The dictates of globalization have to ensure that collaboration replaces mutual suspicion between global powers, i.e. the US & China.
The experience of COVID-19 behooves the rest of the world to form a global consolidated leadership approach in handling global disasters that could crumble economies, disintegrate social fabric and put the rest of the world in a tailspin of chaos. The New World is laden with uncertainty that requires tactful preparedness, calculated responsiveness and proactive gamesmanship. The 21st century leaders can choose its path from this ‘critical juncture’ or wander itself away. And, the New World is not waiting to happen, it is on our hands.
Lekpele M. Nyamalon is a Poet, Writer & Speaker from Liberia. He is a Mandela Washington Fellow and an OSIWA Poetry Fellow and the author of ‘Scary Dreams’ An anthology of the Liberian Civil War. He can be reached at www.lekpele.com and [email protected].