The WHO defines a pandemic as ‘an outbreak of a new pathogen that spreads easily from person to person across the globe’. To be classified as a pandemic, a disease needs to be contagious.
Earlier this morning, the World Health Organisation declared coronavirus as a global pandemic. The virus has infected people in 114 countries, with Italy quarantining its entire region and the US imposing travel bans from Europe, Al Jazeera reported.
Speaking to reporters, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.
However, in real life pandemics only strike a few times each century. But as was noticed with the H1N1 and now with the Covid-19, it is impossible to know how exactly a pandemic plays out.
Now with that being said, we must now focus on how it affects us, and not just as individuals.
1. History suggests that pandemics, when they go unchecked, can cause serious loss of lives.
The last pandemic was H1N1, a strain similar to the Spanish Flu, which started in 2009 and has infected about 100 million Americans, killing about 75,000 and sending 936,000 to the hospital, the CDC estimated.
Now, according to the WHO, there are already more than 118,000 cases of Coronavirus in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives. Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals.
2. Travel bans start getting severe. Countries shut down their roads, railways, ports and airports to prevent its citizens from getting infected.
The US President has already issued a ban on flights to and from Europe for 30 days. Saudi Arabia has also suspended travel within its boundaries and halted flights to several states.
The ban also extends to the European Union, Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, and Somalia. Any and all people from these countries have also been banned to travel to Saudi Arabia.
3. Sporting events or events of any kind where there’s a mass gathering will get cancelled.
Italy, which is one of the worst affected countries right now is considering cancelling the Serie A, Italian football federation (FIGC) said, after Juventus defender Daniele Rugani was tested positive for the virus.
Currently, matches are being played in empty stadiums. The Olympics scheduled for 2020 in Tokyo have not yet been cancelled but these are still very early days of the outbreak.
Even the Premier League and Euro 2020 could be cancelled as the number of coronavirus victims continue to pile up.
The National Basketball Association also said on Wednesday that it was suspending the season until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus.
As this article was being written, La Liga was suspended for at least two weeks.
4. Vaccinations take time to create, test, mass produce and then make them accesible to the billions around the world.
According to the New Yorker, it would take at least a year and a half to do all the above and make the vaccinations available to the people around the world.
John Shiver, the global head of vaccine research and development at the multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi, which is developing a vaccine for Covid19 said that the trials needed to be done on healthy people as they did not want to create something which would worsen the health of an ill person, making the procedure extremely challenging.
5. The spread of fake news, as always will drive people further away from the truth, which in many cases mean violence against people of a particular race or region.
There have been multiple incidents of attacks on people from Asia or people having Asian origins due to the fear of Coronavirus. In times like these, it is important for governments of the world to regulate and stop misinformation regarding the disease.
6. World economy takes a massive swan dive in cases such as this outbreak of the coronavirus.
According to CNBC, the global economy is expected to grow by 2.4% in 2020, down from the 2.9% projected earlier. China’s GDP is expected to grow by 4.9% this year, slower than the earlier forecast of 5.7%.
The world’s economy could grow at its slowest rate since 2009 this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), BBC reported.
Mind you, these are only predictions based on reports around the world and observations made during the previous pandemic in 2009. These are still early days and we do not know how bad things could get.