How much do we know about COVID-19 – The Knowns and Unknowns

Yes, it is a mysterious virus on several scales with yet many unknowns and even what we know has many unknowns and several associated uncertainties. This is though all the accumulated knowledge that we have today. Since the breakdown of COVID-19 many knowns and unknowns have been unfolding and our knowledge on COVID-19 has been growing and expanding (https://youtu.be/PWzbArPgo-o). Many leaders around the world have been constantly upgrading their expectations and revising their strategies and action policies (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/30/world/coronavirus-newsletter-03-30-20-intl/index.html). One of the most interesting characteristics of COVID-19 is that 20% or more (some data show that it can be up to 40%) of infected people don’t show any symptoms ‘asymptomatic’ and can still infect others. So, not all infected people develop breathing difficulties unless they belong to risk groups, i.e. having underlying medical diseases and/or don’t get suitable and timely medication (https://youtu.be/gAk7aX5hksU). Some scary and mysterious characteristics of COVID-19 are that this virus can survive in air and on surfaces for long periods of up to few days. So, the risk to get infected is still high as they are many routes for infections other than direct and indirect transmission from infected persons. There has been much research on how COVID-19 has very rapidly became a global pandemic (https://fortune.com/longform/how-coronavirus-spread-map/amp/) due to our modern tight lifestyle in heavily populated cities with intensive physical mobility and worldwide trade systems supported by an ever growing complex and crowded transport and travel systems. Other global issues are that this pandemic may take still remain with us for more longer time before it can disappear from the surface of the Earth. This is as the two hemispheres have different seasonal weather and climate conditions even when the current wave of COVID-19 spreading will disappear for sometime (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/will-spring-slow-spread-of-coronavirus-in-northern-hemisphere; https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-australia-summer-warm-weather-2020-3?r=US&IR=T). The gravity of the COVID-crisis is now being felt by everyone on planet Earth and the degree of suffering is highly variable among the citizens of all countries. The poor and less privileged are the most vulnerable as individuals but they will certainly expose other fellow citizens of their countries, also globally, to enormous risk for getting infected as well (https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/03/23/coronavirus-spread-poverty-covid-19-stimulus-column/2899411001/; https://insightplus.mja.com.au/2020/11/covid-19-containment-poverty-and-population-health/; https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-poor-and-marginalized-will-be-the-hardest-hit-by-coronavirus/). So, poverty in itself will cause future new pandemics to be more severe. On the global scale there are new emerging and severe impacts on several levels, e.g. slowdown of globalization thus entering new period of de-globalization (https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/covid-19-deglobalization-pandemic-by-harold-james-2020-02; https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/12/coronavirus-killing-globalization-nationalism-protectionism-trump/). With these trends urbanization and citizens of newly urbanized regions may face considerable damage (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/26/life-after-coronavirus-pandemic-change-world). The COVID-19 will also have serious impacts of on our lifestyle and mindset and this will certainly cause mental stress and trauma for many of us, e.g. fear and insecurity of coping with life threatening situations at work, in businesses and also socially (https://www.france24.com/en/20200323-post-traumatic-stress-confusion-and-anger-how-quarantine-affects-your-mental-health; https://www.businessinsider.com/how-a-coronavirus-quarantine-affects-your-body-and-brain-2020-3; https://euobserver.com/coronavirus/147903; https://cpa.ca/psychology-works-fact-sheet-psychological-impacts-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19/). There are also major tectonic impacts on the global economies, collapse of financial systems (https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-03-20/coronavirus-a-long-term-look-at-economies-and-markets; https://www.cgdev.org/blog/economic-impact-covid-19-low-and-middle-income-countries). We will also experience major global changes and impacts on our education systems in all levels especially what regards shifts to online e-learning and distant education (sustain-earth.com). All in all there will be enormous needs to seek new and sustainable lifestyles to meet an emerging be world that will never be the same again. As we don’t have Planet-B yet (sustian-earth.com) we need to reconsider how we can reshape our lives to meet new threats and challenges.

Why Testing COVID-19 – Science versus Policies?

One of the most important things that help to understand and stop spread of COVID-19 is testing. Science explains why testing is important, what it involves and scientific needs for data-sets. So how many tests countries are doing based on available data from official sources are among important issues. Testing allows infected people to know if they are infected and needs care. This can, also, help take measures to reduce probability of infecting others. On region-wide scale testing allows to understand the spread of the disease, to take evidence-based measures to slow down the spread and eventually to control the pandemic. Because of several reasons, the capacity for COVID-19 testing is still very limited worldwide, so we still do not have detailed understanding of the spread. With testing someone ‘COVID-19 infected’ may produce false-negative results and may require more than one test (https://ourworldindata.org/covid-testing). While science is the bases and reference to make sound policies and decisions there are several practical and technical constraints what regards when, where and how to scale-up an effective, prompt and affordable infra-structure for nation-wide testing capacity (https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/why-widespread-coronavirus-testing-isnt-coming-anytime-soon). The US for example, reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on January 21st. Eight weeks later, there still aren’t enough tests for the virus available for everyone who needs them and this is also the case in many other countries around the world. “It is a failing,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as “The system is not really geared to what we need right now.” People who are sick or have been in contact with sick people are struggling to be tested and labs to get the supplies needed (https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/17/21184015/coronavirus-testing-pcr-diagnostic-point-of-care-cdc-techonology). But some African, Asian, European, and South American countries are responding quite differently. Below is a sampling of the ways different countries have been working to protect citizens from the Covid-19 virus (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/science-and-health/2020/3/22/21189889/coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-response-south-korea-phillipines-italy-nicaragua-senegal-hong-kong). South Korea has the world’s most comprehensive protective measures with the most novel, too “Public Phone Booths”. A hospital in Seoul has installed them to offer easy, quick testing to people worried about having the disease. The way it works is spectacular: One person at a time can enter one side of the glass-walled booth and grab a handset connected to a hospital worker standing on the other side of the glass. After a consultation, the staff member can stick their arms into rubber gloves embedded into the booth to swab the patient quickly, collecting a sample before the booth is quickly disinfected. The hospital says the seven-minute exam allows it to test almost 10 times as many samples as it could without the special booths. Similar techniques are used in hot radioactive labs to protect laboratory-staff against radiation. However, Taiwan has very high ranking of protection measures against COV-19 though close to China, has intensive traffic and relatively higher population than other counties with very high infection and death rates. There are other examples of countries struggling with many complications such as inadequate testing, lack of staff and lack of protective equipment for medical staff, e.g. the Philippines. The country’s main island of Luzon is under lockdown with half the country’s population of 107 million live on Luzon including 12 million in Manila. The Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers Inc. has begun to warn of potential gaps in the food supply chain. Some says if you can’t get tested? Maybe you’re in the wrong country (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/world/europe/coronavirus-testing-world-countries-cities-states.html). It is not about science, very early, scientists around the world were waiting at their computers in early January when China released the coronavirus genetic code, the blueprint for creating tests and vaccines. Within days, labs from Hong Kong to Berlin had designed tests and shared their research with others. However, decisions and blunders made months ago have caused testing disparities worldwide. The science, it turns out, was the easy part.

The Global Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemics (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2%80%9320_coronavirus_pandemic) though slowing down in the country of origin China with positive signs of recovery including China’s Hubei province to lift travel ban (https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-china-hubei-province-wuhan-travel-ban-467adb98-d5c0-4bdd-bf6b-eace981436a6.html; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/24/china-to-lift-travel-restrictions-in-hubei-after-months-of-coronavirus-lockdown) is still spreading enormously and continuing to grow around the world (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-maps.amp.html) with major calls for extreme measures worldwide (https://youtu.be/ZbXHIYBrFss) including for example total lockdown in India (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-asia-india-52024239). However, there are also interesting views that the COVID-19 pandemics will not last for more than few months (https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-03-22/coronavirus-outbreak-nobel-laureate) though this has been criticized by other researchers especially with fear that information on COVID-19 may suffer manipulations (https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/03/b09b868ec468-breaking-news-wuhan-doctor-blows-whistle-on-manipulation-of-virus-patient-numbers.html) or the leaders have prioritised restarting the economy over decisively containing the virus (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/23/life-after-lockdown-has-china-really-beaten-coronavirus) Amid the enormous reporting on COVID-19 there are ongoing socio-economic impacts of tectonic scales on all sectors worldwide (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/business-51706225), e.g. the stock markets, banks, oil and gold prices, travel industry, industrial production including cars, hotels, restaurants and other services. Such impacts will still cause an increasing negative economic spiral on downstream activities and businesses. These trends have triggered several actions by governments around the world to mitigate the ongoing negative socio-economic impacts, e.g. the two trillions stimulus package in the US to businesses and workers forced to shut their doors and relief to American families and hospitals reeling from the rapid spread of the disease and the resulting economic disruption (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/03/25/world/coronavirus-news-maps.amp.html).

Education, Universities and Schools – COVID-19

Work is something we do, not something we always need to travel to, this was coined in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. It is also true what concerns education “education is something we do and not necessarily something we always need to travel to”. This may not be true in all situations but at least it can be a suitable alternative or it can be a supplement as well. From what we currently see around the world it is evident and clear that knowledge is needed to reach all and everyone specially in times when most of us has to be in collective or self-quarantine (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarantine). However, free movement of ‘quality’ knowledge may be simple to say but how can this be implemented and achieved in reality is totally different not only what regards education (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education) but also for the sake of public awareness (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awareness; https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_awareness_of_science). In both cases it is a major challenge for many, if not a puzzle for some. For both it also a matter of “what, why and how”. Knowledge empowers everyone and provide safety, security and welfare on several scales. Knowledge (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge) in itself is not a goal but rather an instrument that is also renewable. Knowledge-transfer is going through major transformation process, distance learning and online education can’t and will not take place overnight. We still don’t have accessible, affordable, well-structured and coordinated solutions on the global level that can help providing effective and high-quality distant education (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distance_education) and e-learning (https://youtu.be/r9ebNrKiYbM) for schools and universities. What regards public awareness there are constraints and uncertainties in the quality of knowledge as fake news and disinformation (https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/A_short_guide_to_the_history_of_%27fake_news%27_and_disinformation) are penetrating everywhere. We have the tools for remedies and to mitigate the pitfalls. By being academic and yet a citizen in a society that is facing collective and deadly threat, COVID-19, that has already caused a state of emergency and considerable economic damage on regional and global scale, it is imperative to engage in finding practical and operational answers. It is a global urgency as, for different reasons, we will face similar situations and we will certainly need to have solutions for how science and technology in the ICT-era can be taught online. This also applies to all academic disciplines (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_academic_disciplines) and school education on all levels (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education). If the vaccines will take time to produce and medical treatments can’t be provided to everyone then we can ask ourselves, are there any alternative approaches to communicate knowledge not only for e-learning but also for the sake of effectively protecting our follow citizens from health and socio-economic losses? Universities have a third duty besides research and teaching, i.e. social engagement. Universities don’t need to wait to be asked from policy-makers to assist. They have possibilities to team up and initiate contacts with other public and private actors in order to innovate in new distant education and e-learning, also to take part in filling gaps in production and socio-economic services that are still needed in times of severe crises as those facing us now ‘COVID-19’. Much and very much more the academic staff and the higher education in general can do to create resilience in e.g. education and related services by effective implementation of ICT-solutions. Politics tell to implement social distancing, close campuses and recommend working at home on-line. Higher education, however, should have all the facilities, tools and expertise to deal promptly with wicked national crises such as COVID-19 that is currently paralyzing the whole society. Science and Technology in a state of emergency should be a solution to the problem and not part of the problem itself. Here ICT can be of considerable help, what regards how universities can have dynamic and effective roles in generating effective and powerful “university-society” synergies, by promoting what is required to achieve sustainable societies as stated and formulated in the UN-SDGs. Goal 17 of the UN-SDGs, i.e. ‘Partnership for Goals’ is for example a call for action by cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders. UN-SDGs are strategic goals for all sectors and actors in the society, including higher education and universities, to promote and achieve sustainable societies. In this context, the following components are of value to couple UN-SDGs with academic activities: curriculum; quality and benchmarks for sustainable developments; diversification in teaching, research and society interactions to achieve sustainability; policies, actions and guidelines; student engagement; and academic response in socio-economic crises. Many sectors in the society call for help to solve newly emerging and upcoming needs in times of crises (https://www.google.se/amp/s/news.sky.com/story/amp/coronavirus-tesco-becomes-latest-supermarket-to-create-jobs-to-meet-surge-in-demand-11961035). Student nurses are set to be mobilised to join the workforce early in order to support the front line response to coronavirus, as is the case of NHS in England (https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/workforce/nhs-to-summon-student-nurses-to-help-tackle-coronavirus-11-03-2020/). This is also the case for medical students which is indeed can also provide an opportunity to gain training (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/03/19/opinions/coronavirus-med-students-opinion-hollister-allen/index.html). Schools are sending kids home with devices, workbooks and other resources — but many others may not. Either way, parents are left with a dual challenge: managing new ways of working, while not allowing their kids to disappear into social media and video games for weeks or months. To minimize disruption to childrens’ education, keep a strict schedule and a list of goals to meet, we need to learn from Hong Kong what regards online learning during the coronavirus. What happened when Hong Kong’s Schools went virtual to combat the Spread of Coronavirus. A temporary solution during months long school shutdowns, the online classrooms may be an experiment the rest of the world can learn from (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/what-can-americans-learn-from-hong-kongs-unplanned-experiment-online-learning-during-coronavirus-180974331/). Yet not as schools close amid Coronavirus concerns, the digital divide leaves some students behind “We still had classes today, so I was asking my professors, ‘What if we come from an area where internet access isn’t readily available or reliable? About 15% of U.S. households with school-aged children don’t have high-speed internet access at home (https://www.google.se/amp/s/time.com/5803355/school-closures-coronavirus-internet-access/%3famp=true). This is even much worse in e.g. Africa because of different reasons, so coping with pandemics in the era of globalization may have severe feedbacks on global health and economies. What we learned from COVID-19 is that we are living in a globalized world and education is a global sector without boundaries and needs to be integrated and managed to meet new realities and needs.

Lessons Learned – COVID-19 and the UN-SDGs

The world machinery is now mobilizing all its efforts, but how? In this context, what do we need to learn and why? Never in the history of humanity there has been such a global determination on all levels to stop the a life threatening disease, a novel invisible enemy ‘COVID-19’. An aggressive nanoparticle virus that invaded the Planet Earth, infecting us humans, spreading with an extremely fast speed in all countries around the globe and paralyzing all sectors on national and global levels. First it was China, then Korea, Iran and Italy (https://www.wired.co.uk/article/coronavirus-italy). It is now accelerating in Europe, the UK and the US and following these it is expected to expand to the MENA region, South America, Africa and the rest of the planet. China did solid efforts to revert the advance of the COVID-19 and it seems now that it has passed the infection-peak of its population and on its way to recover. At the early stages of the appearance of the COVID-19 the rest of world took naive stand “wait and see”. However, with repeated warnings of WHO it was realized that any more delay and “wait and see” would bring disastrous impacts of tectonic scales to all countries around the world as it was seen in e.g. Korea, Iran and Italy to start with. Europe, took by surprise, was not prepared to take fast and common actions and the EU was very slow to agree on common and collaborative policies, i.e. what to do. However, this is not strange as the machinery in the EU (https://www.linkedin.com/posts/european-commission_coronavirus-covid19-activity-6645002380771368960-LmYC) is based on lengthy and complex chain of negotiations between the member states (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1149491) especially what regards its internal and external borders (https://mises.org/wire/eus-once-open-internal-borders-are-closing-down). The member states of the EU, or rather the different countries in Europe, took their own actions and various pathways to cope with the internal spreading of the COVID-19 (https://www.thedailybeast.com/shuttered-europe-cracks-under-the-coronavirus-strain) in their countries. With the delay of common actions, as the rest of the world, Europe imported the COVID-19 and became in relatively short time a new epicenter for COVID-19. The most common and global criteria is how to flatten the infection-peak by social distancing and to empower hospital and healthcare capacities, and whenever possible to perform effective testing and screening (https://youtu.be/vww1nIIoqmw) in order to halt the spreading of the infections and minimize its fatal socio-economic impacts. Interesting enough Sweden set up a limit of 500 persons for gathering of people, Australia 100 persons (indoors) while many other countries including the USA and countries in Europe are recommending no more than 10 persons. Naturally there are reasons behind these figures, including the decision made so far by Sweden not to close schools and other associated links with its limited capacity in the health sector. It seems that many countries, even in developed economies, because of different reasons are not enough prepared to deal with wicked threats of large-scale and long-term nature. However, Finland seems to be very well prepared as they have until early this week very good testing and containment system. Finland though their high level of preparedness has imposed sharp restrictions of social distancing including shutting down their schools (https://www.svtplay.se/video/26027712/nyheter-direkt/finland-stanger-skolorna-pga-coronaviruset). Now, what have these issues to do with the UN-SDGs. It is interesting to see how goal 3 of the UN-SDGs “Insure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages” is very much dependent, linked and have complex synergies with all the other 16 goals of the UN-SDGs (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/) including goal 17 “Revitalize the global (and also regional) partnership for sustainable development”. The actions taken in the USA for example demonstrate the needs for effective partnerships between the private and the public sectors on the one hand, and combined synergies of top-bottom policies and bottom-top collaborative actions from the citizens. The strategies and policies taken in the USA, also to some extent in Europe, illustrate how modern ICT technology can be a great instrument in promoting effective and fast solutions to speed up the national actions and in proving effective top-bottom and bottom-top synergies. However, the testing in the USA for several reasons in not representing the actual situation (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/607348/) and the numbers of infections can be much higher, which is also the case for many other countries. The USA also has underlined the imperative involvement of the youth to assist in limiting the spread of COVID-19. The youth by being among the least affected groups by the health threats of COVID-19 and at the same time a spreading source of infection to the the risk groups of population. On the large-scale and the long-term perspective, it is evident from all what is said before the great importance of the UN-SDGs, i.e. in coping with major global crises that are facing and will be facing the humanity on planet Earth. Goal 1 “No povery” and goal 2 “Zero hunger” are essential to cope with the threats of COVID-19 at least in developing and poor counties. Quality of education, goal 4, is without of hesitation a key issue to cope with wicked problems such as COVID-19. Gender equality, goal 5, is imperative also to engage all the population in the mitigation of severe crisis such as the COVID-19. Goal 6, clean water and sanitation, is imperative for having high quality health standards and the same applies to goal 7, which is the driver of all products from food and industry. It goes without saying, goal 8 “create job opportunities for youth” by being part of the drivers of goal 9 “industry and innovation and infrastructure”. Goal 10 “reduced inequalities” are also important for effective engagement of all citizens in common threats. Goal 11, “sustainable cities and communities” is also part of empowering the citizens to take collective actions and measures for bottom-top effective synergies. Goal 12 “responsible consumption and production” is a key issue for empowering the society as a whole to act promptly and fast in coping with large-scale and long-term threats such as the COVID-19 where goal 13 “climate action” has feedback impacts from at least goal 12. Goal 14 “live below water” and goal 15 “life on land” are essential for food production, biodiversity and eco-systems services. Goal 16 “peace justice and strong institutions” are essential for providing the necessary safety and security to all the citizens to engage in bottom-up synergies.

EU, Sweden and the UK- The COVID-19 Policies

The coronavirus is taking strong grip in the member states of the EU and the spreading of COVID-19 has achieved different stages in the member states with variable geographic rates, extent and hot zones distribution. The top of the spreading-peak is far from being achieved in all of the member states as is the case in China where the recovery seems to be taking place. The situation in Europe is worse than the corresponding one in China at its early stages of COVID-19 spreading (https://www.svd.se/who-kraver-mer-provtagning-och-isolering; https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/save-lives-with-social-distancing-how-to-protect-your-family-from-coronavirus-primed-to-hit-india-like-a-bomb/). The EU is now facing tectonic threats on several scales as coronavirus is new, aggressive and fatal on all levels and has complex, dynamic and fast interactions and impacts on all sectors. Though there has been division between the EU member states regarding how they can deal with COVID-19, the policies have shifted and converged very rapid into general strategies to limit spreading of the COVID-19 by restricting mobility and gathering of the citizens in public and working places. However, such restrictions don’t apply to strategic and critical service in key sectors such as health care. In higher education and upper school system there is major turn from campus teaching to distant and IT online teaching to limit gathering and travel and transport (mobility). It is a total turn away from previous theories and actions to use, apply and implement the so-called ‘herd immunity’ (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity; https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/coronavirus-herd-immunity-meaning-definition-what-vaccine-immune-covid-19-a9397871.html%3famp) as it was suggested, e.g. in the UK (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/16/pm-tells-britons-to-avoid-non-essential-contact-with-others). Sweden has (https://youtu.be/Snnflr_8HKM) in particular taken many solid decisions in this respects to protect and support its citizens on several levels. The UK (not member state) shifted away from considering potential advantage of the population to acquire some element of herd immunity as this scenario, according to new data from Italy would require the loss of very high number of people from the coronavirus. The herd immunity model fierced backlash on social media in the UK with people claiming it amounted to evidence that their government was happy for large numbers of people to get coronavirus (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/15/boris-johnson-to-hold-daily-coronavirus-press-briefings). All of the member states in Europe however aren’t in favor of such strategy and follow more or less the recommendations of the WHO to break the chain of the COVID-19 transmission, i.e. to limit the expansion of the disease. Early actions (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/save-lives-with-social-distancing-how-to-protect-your-family-from-coronavirus-primed-to-hit-india-like-a-bomb/) can save lives and the WHO has previously slammed the UK and Sweden for scaling back coronavirus testing and warned ‘don’t just let this fire burn’. However, though “Wait and See” strategies exhausted the early possibilities of coronavirus testing, the new policies now are going in the right track to save more lives and empower the citizens by correct public awareness tools as well as to give the private and public sectors the necessary economic support. In Sweden for example, the government has launched strong economic support packages (300 billion ‘swedish crowns (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.thelocal.se/20200316/sweden-launches-300-billion-kronor-coronavirus-crisis-package/amp) to protect businesses and jobs from the fallout of the new coronavirus. Among other measures in Sweden for example, narrowing the possibilities of gathering and mobility, strengthening distant and online teaching, intensifying health care efforts, public awareness on protective health issues and providing economic support to compensate impacts from shutting down work-places and effects from health injuries.

“Wait and See” – The Coronavirus COVID-19 and National Responsibilities

Since the breakdown of a new Coronavirus in China and an early alarm by a Chinese physician (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/world/asia/chinese-doctor-Li-Wenliang-coronavirus.amp.html) who tried to sound a warning that a troubling cluster of viral infections in a Chinese province could grow out of control with serious consequences, the rest of the world responded with a naive and irrational thinking “wait and see”. This is though it is a novel and rather unknown virus (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html) and the very first alarm by doctor, Li Wenliang, was an outcry to the world, and not only to China, to be prepared about what could happen in the future. The logic and rational thinking tells us another reality, as experienced everyday since the outbreak at Wuhan and after very long “wait and see”. The reality that a virus is a virus and can hit any person anywhere once is exposed to it directly or indirectly. It is a blind gambling to think something else as we live in very tight and densely urbanized communities, and not seldom overpopulated cities, on a very globalized planet with very fast, ultra active and even super crowded transport systems 60/24/7. How can we continue to sleep with a virus that doesn’t sleep, has constant and enormous possibilities for spreading globally and not only locally or regionally as previously thought. We thought that what happened in Wuhan wouldn’t happen somewhere else and people around the world continued watching what is going in China and how the virus is spreading with no idea that we belong to the same planet. The virus has no boundaries to stop it as there are no effective medicine to halt its spreading, no well-defined information on the dynamics of its transmission and how containment can be done on national and global scales. Though these known facts the world was left with only one irrational option “Wait and see” until it is right among us, in our working places and allover the globe in almost every country. The WHO was criticized by being slow to act on this epidemic as in previous health crisis (https://youtu.be/Fha0m7Wo3F0). Statements from WHO are based on the global statistical spread “wait and see” of the virus and not on the nature of the virus itself and careful forecasting and predictions of what could happen as based on spatio-temporal consequence analyses of the transmission and spreading dynamics. With an early (at a later stage) but yet fast global spreading of the coronavirus the WHO did warn the global community about quick actions and economic solidarity. Consequently, many countries around the world were still slow to act as they followed the early statements of WHO rather than taking own initiatives to protect their national population. New viruses such as COVID-19, by being novel is not among the priority list of WHO (https://www.who.int/activities/prioritizing-diseases-for-research-and-development-in-emergency-contexts) so it came as a surprise with insufficient strategies how to handle it more than “wait and see”, as a first reaction, and this in itself caused huge “wait and see” uncertainties among politicians, as economic issues based on growth economy have also to be taken in consideration. Though the science is crystal clear, it is new novel virus (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2Fabout%2Ftransmission.html; https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/as-coronavirus-spreads-many-questions-and-some-answers-2020022719004) with far unknown impacts and serious precautions have to be in place as being experienced and guided from reality (https://youtu.be/A1yXTlvTB08). Many information was given to individuals (e.g. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/cleaning-disinfection.html; https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7927017/How-travel-safe-coronavirus-outbreak-according-expert.html). How to deal with it on the personal level is of course very important but being an issue of Public health the main responsibility is still, and should be on the first place, on the national level as effective national and timely strategies supported by coordinated infra-structures are imperative in such situations. By intuition everyone of us felt it will come sooner or later to our homes but we reacted irrationally hoping that what happened in China will not happen to us though human beings, in spite of where on planet earth, are biologically the same organism (http://www.project2061.org/publications/sfaa/online/chap6.htm) driven by basic human biology principles (https://www.edx.org/course/essential-human-biology-cells-and-tissues). It is time now to rethink about more sustainable socio-economic system where health and economic issues are treated on equal footing (https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/coronavirus-recession-economy-would-pose-unique-threats-federal-reserve-response-2020-3-1028956481). Better late than never, the OECD declared a sharp recommendation that “Governments need to act immediately to contain the epidemic, support the health care system, protect people, shore up demand and provide a financial lifeline to households and businesses that are most affected (https://www.google.se/amp/s/abcnews.go.com/amp/Business/coronavirus-cut-global-economic-growth-outlook-half-oecd/story%3fid=69334244). There are no other means to face a new emerging reality that requires sustainable policies as formulated by the UN-SDGs. For Coronavirus live updates: Bookmark this map to track global cases in real-time (https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6). The global map of coronavirus as by 10/3-2020

Etiopiens premiärminister Abiy Ahmed får Nobels fredspris 2019 | SVT Nyheter

Nobels
— Läs på www.svt.se/nyheter/utrikes/de-vinner-arets-fredspris

An important and innovative decision for Africa and the rest of the world. The political stability of East Africa is a strategic corner stone for promoting peace in a very dynamic region with emerging socio-economic potential for developments. Congratulations for this very wise support for implementing stronger bases for future sustainable development in Africa and the rest of the world.

Announcement – New Ph.D. Course “Sustainability in Science and Technology”.

REGISTRATION is opened for participation in a new Ph.D. faculty (Science and Technology) COURSE at Uppsala University “Sustainability in Science & Technology”. As far as possible and if places are available Ph.D. researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences are also welcome to register.

Deadline of registration is the 10 of October 2019. Please register as early as possible. 
“Sustainability in Science and Technology” treats strategic worldwide questions for scaling up science and technology to achieve sustainable  societies. WHAT is sustainability? WHY it is needed? and HOW to achieve sustainability.
Water, energy and natural resources are imperative for our living on planet earth, yet they are not INFINITE. The ongoing transformation to sustainable societies is both urgent and necessary. Water and energy systems require natural resources in their lifecycles.
Increasing global pressures on yet declining water, energy and natural resources come with a heavy price of severe impacts on environment, biodiversity and life quality. Sustainability in science and technology is the only means to cure and heal this paradox, however this can not be achieved overnight. 
“Sustainability in Science and Technology” is planned in lectures, study-visits and group discussions with “lecture-based” assignments. Group discussion are designed to benefit from the IT-based “Laborative Lärosalen” of UU. Target groups are PhD students in all domains of Science and Technology. Participant will not only gain knowledge on how to structure their own future “Career Development Plans” but also to shape and reshape ongoing global transformation to sustainable societies. Also,  in shaping what is meant by Sustainability.
The Course will be given during November and is schedules in two parts: the first two weeks (4/11 – 15/11) we will have 12 Invited Talks of 24 hours followed by two weeks (21/11 – 3/12) of Seminar and Assignments of 27 hours. 
The Ph.D. researchers at Uppsala University who completed the course in 2018 have very positive, yet critical, feedbacks with an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5. Following their evaluation and recommendations, it gives us much pleasure to invite you to sign up, join and follow this interesting and innovative journey of sustainability. I am convinced that your contributions will allow us to penetrate deep in real life questions/issues for generations to come.
Scaling up science and technology to meet the UN-SDGs is not only a major challenge for politicians and professionals but more importantly for universities around the world. For young academics the question is how to create career-development-plans to cope with uncertain market and future? Would the Paris agreement achieve its goal? If not why? and if yes what are the supporting measures needed so as the Paris agreement can fulfill its mission? 

The European Paradox of Climate Change – Life Standard? or Life Quality?

The conflicting uncertainties regarding global warming and climate change is getting more and more real. It is not only a Chinese Hoax as described by the President of the United States (https://www.google.se/amp/s/time.com/5622374/donald-trump-climate-change-hoax-event/%3famp=true), it is also an European paradox causing social trauma (https://youtu.be/vGPU5SWV1DE) of two contrasting realities. A growing conflict and fear fueling collective social frustration about what we want in our life – Life Quality? or Life Standard? The Paris Agreement is now suffering from a new Hoax, a competition between two contrasting European (also global) interests, a comedian theatre 🎭 by the European Commission and the European Citizens. A blaming and shaming that is dividing Europe into two blocks. Whether you believe or not in global warming and climate change it is shame on you. Shame on you if you believe, though you want to protect and preserve the natural resources, as you are participating in the degradation of European standard of living. Shame on you if you do not, though you are concerned about promoting high economic living standard, you are not caring about the European life quality (also quality of life on planet Earth) by protecting and preserving our common natural resources and capital.

One example illustrating the European paradox and trauma what regards the Paris Agreement is the transport and air aviation sector. This also, applies globally. The transport and air aviation has huge emissions of greenhouse gases and contribute intensively in global warming and climate change. Still there are many other sectors that have more severe contributions (https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data). The standpoint of the European Commission what regards transport and air aviation is a comedian theatre 🎭 over global warming. On the one hand it supports the business-as-usual in transport and air aviation sectors (http://sorenandersson.com/aviation-a-climate-change-villain/; https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport_en; https://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/air_en; https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/aeronautics_en). The European Commission says “The Aviation Strategy is a milestone initiative to generate growth for European business, foster innovation and let passengers profit from safe, cleaner and cheaper flights, while offering more connections. This Strategy contributes directly to the Commission priorities of jobs and growth, digital single market, energy union and EU as a global actor. The Aviation Strategy of the Commisson will enable European aviation to flourish globally. So, despite the current economic crisis, global air transport over the long term is expected to grow by around 5% annually until 2030. While on the other hand the European Commisson supports the ongoing protests against business-as-usual in transport and air aviation (https://youtu.be/szdgJi2VKW8). The European Commission says, an air-flight from London to New York and back is producing carbon dioxide emission equivalent to the same emission that an average European citizen does by heating a home for an entire year.

Another important issue what regards carbon dioxide emission, is virtual emission. According to reports published by Our World Data Organization (https://ourworlddata.org) trusted by most reputed international Research and Media sources and institutions on “Carbon Dioxide and Greenhouse Gas Emissions” by Emissions” by Hannah Ritchie and Max Rose (https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions). The report clearly indicate that the global emissions in greenhouse gases are still increasing and “if we switched to a consumption-based reporting system (which corrects for this trade), in 2014 the annual CO emissions of many European economies would increase by more than 30% (the UK by 38%; Sweden by 66%; and Belgium’s emissions would nearly double); and the USA’s emissions would increase by 7%. On the other hand, China’s emissions would decrease by 13%; India’s by 9%; Russia’s by 14% and South Africa by 29%”. This indicates Europe, and in particular Sweden, are doing very little for the rest of the world to decrease the global carbon dioxide emissions and to actively participate in the global mitigation of the impacts of climate change. It is indeed an inconvenient truth about the European paradox and trauma what regards following the Paris Agreement and taking international agreements seriously instead of blaming and shaming their citizens and the rest of the world.

We are just listening to ourselves debating what are the reasons? Is it the older generation that destroyed the planet? Is it the fossil fuel that polluted the air and caused climate change? Is it the piling-up of waste, where plastics became daily food for other species on planet earth? Is is the irresponsible production of industry and agriculture that degraded the land-water systems? Is it the accelerating population growth that is causing pressure on water, energy and natural resources? Is the younger generation that is protesting against a world that they are still trying to understand? Is it about managing science and technology developed by the older generation to bring about sustainable societies for future generations? Is it the growing gaps of inequalities between the rich and the poor? or the disparities between the developed and developing countries? The debate is about whether to kill ourselves or not and why by the end decide not to (https://youtu.be/fnyljp3X4jU). A modern Hamlet ‘to be or not to be’ in real time, a comparison between the pain of life and the fear of the uncertainty of death. As for the Hamlet’s dilemma, although dissatisfied with life, was unsure what death may bring. Climate change is an undiscover’d landscape from which what is gone doesn’t return (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/06/david-attenborough-s-worried-about-this-ocean-threat-and-it-s-not-plastic). Only living species discover death for themselves but don’t return from it to describe it, it is a one-way ticket. So, if life with global warming is bad, the death from it might be worse.

Sailing on a luxurious boat as means of traveling is absolutely not a sustainable solution with astronomic costs and it is extremely unlikely to be a practical solution for public transport (https://www.google.se/amp/s/beta.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/08/15/swedish-climate-activist-greta-thunberg-is-sailing-america-amid-storm-criticism/%3foutputType=amp). However, it is an illustration of a disparate and a long-time human challenge to solve the complex issues of achieving sustainable living on planet Earth. To be united behind the science, as is given on Malizia, is to find affordable and sustainable solutions for the world population. If science is allowed to be defined by irresponsible consumption, the earth will be irreversibly and completely drained from its natural resources. We will gradually and definitely end up with an unhealthy planet over-populated and managed by an illiterate and poor majority. The history is repeating itself, challenges and adventures motivated to find better life on planet Earth, took place before, as in the time of Christopher Columbus during 1492-1504 (https://youtu.be/3fvXZzcrEcc). It has been always about finding better and prosperous alternatives of life. However, though the science and technology that we have today is far much advanced than at Columbus time the challenges facing humanity are much more severe for the majority of the world population.