To start with ‘racism and discrimination’ do exist in many forms and ways but with the growing global socio-economic-environment awareness the impacts and consequences of ‘racism and discrimination’ can’t be denied anymore. ‘Enough is enough’ and the whole world is now protesting after the legitimate cry of George Floyd “I Can’t Breath” that resulted in his cruel death. Finally racism and discrimination that has been taking place systematically and by institutional organisations even in democratic societies is being filmed (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.the-sun.com/news/924037/girl-who-recorded-george-floyd-killing-therapy-online-trolls/amp/). The echo of George Floyd is a symbolic reminder of how we humans still fail to give space for each other to exist. This is done through how we brought up to think and to act ‘Me, my and mine’ as by today in year 2020 the survival of some on the Earth with seven billion people, among other living species, is still ruling above all and everything. It has now culminated in a phrase ‘I Can’t Breath’ that millions and millions (if not billions) of people wish to say but they were always, and still, ordered to listen. This mindset is a long-standing historical heritage that was gradually and systematically allowed to grow and expand globally. From generation to generation, it has established itself as a global culture to dominate our life-style on planet Earth. It is not only about discrimination and racism but it is about a cancer (with no medicine) or a virus (with no vaccine) that has resulted in destroying all forms of life on planet Earth including humans themselves.
Modern democracies started to feel the pain of racism and discrimination as expressed by those suffering from it “I Can’t Breath”. This has been crystal clear through endless negotiations in the UN committees to bring peace and prosperity to our world. The cure, that the world agreed on, is being defined in a holistic document of 17 goals; the UN-SDGs of 2016 (https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030.html) which is a roadmap for achieving sustainable development for all. Indeed it is a collective global approach for counteracting all forms of historical racism and discrimination by building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”. Among these goals is erasing poverty and hunger that are very dominant in the black communities specially in Africa (https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/research-news/2017-10-25-pollution-and-poverty-a-deadly-mix.html) also through providing people with quality education, health, clean water, sanitation, energy, equal opportunities and decent jobs. Global partnerships are needed to achieve these goals by peaceful means. The wicked problems of racism and discrimination though neither be solved overnight nor be left for centuries without solutions. We can’t keep running away from them by todays business-as-usual policies, strategies and politics. ‘Enough is enough’ and the world can’t go on turning their backs and leaving behind future generations on a planet that is full of ‘viruses’ of different forms. It is an imperative and urgent need to tune our collective efforts to save the planet from a total annihilation. Better late than never.
The death of George Floyd doesn’t come with a surprise as what could happen can happen and is now happening. A citizen is crying for help “I can’t breath” but he get killed instead by a police while three other colleagues are watching. The death of George Floyd has triggered massive violent anger in the USA with the protest of citizens against the police in the USA (https://m.hindustantimes.com/world-news/i-can-t-breathe-protests-heat-up-as-curfews-imposed-in-several-us-cities/story-4dD7qjNMo3Jc0I6Q2YriaI.html). One question is why people went wild like this and was the exaltation to uncontrollable and emotional violence necessary?
The accident itself can’t trigger such huge anger (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2020/06/george-floyd-america-pain-weekend-rallies-grip-live-200601132229392.html) in the USA and the massive reactions around the whole world without systematic underlaying and rooted psychological and emotional fealing of injustice in its widest meaning. The society now has big eyes, learned from their parents and history about what is wrong and what is right. Still emotions can take over and emotional anger can escalate to something else like what trigger military wars and civil-wars. Most importantly the world that can think freely, can also act loudly to be heard, take the matter in their hands to enforce the law if institutions fail to do so by democratic means. We have high speed ITC and powerful social media instruments that can unify the world and feed it instantly with enormous flow of information and facts. The tipping points from peaceful demonstrations to destructive wild, blind and uncontrollable actions can be reached very fast. Their are no barriers for modern communication and any voices and emotions, even quietest and smallest ones, can be heard amplified.
The cry of George Floyd “I can’t breath” and its echo in the free space of planet earth was carried by the speed of light and was heard everywhere around the globe. What would we expect? Its timing came in a very critical time where many other circumstances and factors interacted together and piled-up to cause huge and strong resonance. It was the last drop that caused the cup to run over or the straw that broke the camel’s back. In these two symbols “last drop” resembles the worry about the degrading environment and the “camel’s back” resembles the worry about the degrading “biodiversity and eco-system services” both has to do with a collapsing economy for the majority of the world’s population. Most of the present and future pitfalls and impacts of our current economy, though has many positive effects for us, are being caused by an irresponsible production and consumption of the common global natural resources. Such pitfalls and impacts are now felt by everyone and everywhere. Additionally these pitfalls and impacts resulted in new emerging mega- pandemics that have paralyzed the world health and economy systems with great mental, insecurity and safety frustrations around the world specially the young people that cry for help “I can’t breath” please let me live”?
The world reacted very fast specially in Africa with its dark history of captivities and colonialism. Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said Black people across the world are “shocked and distraught” by the killing of George Floyd in police custody. But what are the deep roots behind what is going on right now in the USA.
Coronavirus has also a finger in this global trauma and has uncovered how inequalities around the world had piled-up with time and activated many latent socio-economic-environment disparities. This will gradually and continuously unfold in different forms of frictions and conflicts around the world. It is not only about racial disparities as being experienced in, e.g. the USA (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-us-canada-52245690) in USA or African and MENA (https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2018/03/22/at-least-a-million-sub-saharan-africans-moved-to-europe-since-2010/; https://www.iom.int/sites/default/files/country/mena/Migration-in-the-Middle-East-and-North-Africa_Data%20Sheet_August2016.pdf; https://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/Fargues-Paper.pdf) emigrants that seek new life in Europe, USA or elsewhere for better life.
Health is a key issue for the sustainable socio-economic-environment transformation of any society. That is clear and evident now to all, and everyone, of us specially in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. However, moving the whole African continent and putting it on a sustainable roads of secure and safe public health it neither trivial nor can be achieved overnight. Africa is very much different and has several obstacles that hinder direct transfer and import of technology from the developed world. But challenges and opportunities are enormous. Not all innovations are likely to survive in the longterm and large-scale because of several reasons that are either treated or will be treated in sustain-earth.com. Future innovations have be based on solid and deep rooted sustainability pillars. Examples on such innovations are given at (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/aug/26/africa-innovations-transform-continent) and will be commented on, elsewhere, at sustain-earth.com. We need to screen all the existing innovations to evaluate and assess them against the new criteria of sustainability.
The African demography (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Africa) has special features what regards population distribution, growth, health, diseases, health care systems, transportation, urban/rural mobility, economy, …. ect all of which have to be taken in consideration to bring about successful transformation to sustainable communities. In the current state of development, innovative ICT-medical tools provide appropriate solutions to offer public health services as ICT/IOT has capabilities to couple P-2-P and M-2-P communications by short-cuts without the need of unnecessary transport specially in critical situations and for people in isolated locations. One such ICT-based solutions is Cardiopad that enables Remote Heart Diagnosis through digital tablets (https://youtu.be/NFIOuy3J-IQ). This has been developed by Arthur Zang, a Cameroonian engineer. When such new innovations find its way in the market they open a chain of other applications and services that can together build integrated and coherent infra-structures to scale-up solutions for whole communities. Let us congratulate Arthur Zang, his team and Cameroon for their innovation.
Sustainable development in Africa will be brought about by spreading innovation across the continent. It stems from the extreme needs for immediate sustainable solutions for the critical problems facing and threatening its advance to the next phase of development. One of such obstacles to achieve sustainable communities is waste, that either existing, e.g. sanitation, or emerging, e.g. e-waste and waste from fossil remains (mining including oil). Innovation for better healthcare, increased access to quality of education, improved social life, poverty reduction and better life-quality by promoting renewable-based technologies are some examples.
Africa is urbanising and ‘motorising’ faster than any other region in the world. The degradation of the continent’s urban air quality will triple or quadruple within 15 years. Invention of small cars, e.g. electric mini-cabs, such as Mellowcabs (https://youtu.be/UKlkS8ZloRE) that operate on three-wheels with low cost, eco-friendly is a convenient taxi and transport services in that can empower cities across Africa. Other innovations are that these vehicles are being manufactured from recycled materials, and feature state of the art electric motors and batteries. Other multi-layered advances in these small and practical vehicles that are embedded in their technology are ICT-technologies, connectivity, data collection, and analytics are catalysing a technology revolution that could dramatically alter the face of the transport sector in Africa and beyond.
In several previous posts (sustain-earth.com) several issues were addressed to describe and highlight the diverse characteristics of our present era ‘The Anthropocene’ in particular what regards human waste and pollution (sustain-earth.com). In this context, positive and promising innovations to handle, treat and turn waste to beneficial and friendly products in the developing countries, e.g. Africa, are being introduced. Waste and pollution from irresponsible production and consumption are being continuously injected to our main spheres that govern all life forms on planet Earth, e.g. the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere in three forms, physical, chemical and biological remains. The threats has to do with how we use our natural capital resources, including the minerals in the lithosphere, of planet Earth that have caused enormous, continuous and commutative damage to all life forms on planet Earth. Unfortunately, we have accepted and even welcomed all types of waste and pollutions to the level that we are gradually pushing the waste and pollution peak to unknown distant future. A future that doesn’t belong to us. Waste and pollution is described by some people as a ‘hoax’ or ‘fake news’ not created neither by the market nor by us. So, let it be the fate of future generations and the fate of who don’t contribute in ongoing irresponsible production and consumption. It is the current narrative to keep expanding and supporting irresponsible production and consumption. That is the philosophy of denying and refusing to listen to the facts of science that brought us to the point of tip-over of our planet Earth to the very edge of no return. So, would the young generation of Africa manage to change such narratives?
Statistics from around the world regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including the most developed countries in Europe and the USA, show considerable gaps in our health care systems in particular for the risk groups of world population. According existing data most infections and deaths do take place in hospitals (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52196978). It is an unprecedented truth in the 2020 that our modern health care systems, even in most advanced countries, are unable to provide safe and secure medical treatments for the most needed when it is needed. It is a scary reality for all of us, even for professionals in the health care sectors. The working conditions in hospitals and in health care systems are suffer from several uncertainties with clear associated risks to die among doctors and nurses in COVID-19 is also unacceptably high (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/asia-pacific-health-workers-risk-all-to-fight-covid-19/1791014; https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/90-000-healthcare-workers-infected-with-covid-19-icn/1831765). The pitfalls and other shortcomings in global health care systems and the related health consequence are being analyzed, assessed and compiled by WHO (e.g. 20200411-sitrep-82-covid-19.pdf). The figure given here shows people died with confirmed COVID-19 in England and Wales by week ending 27 March 2020 according to data from Office for National Statistics (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52196978). In this figure about 93% of the people infected by COVID-19 died in hospitals, i.e. a total of 501 persons out of a total of 538).
This situation and chaos didn’t take place overnight, though according to the UN-SDGs of 2017, Goal 3 calls is about: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/). Naturally the global health care system is very much dependent of other major factors: education; life on land; life under water; clean water and sanitation; poverty; hunger; energy; economic growth; industry and innovation; inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible production and consumption; climate action; peace and strong institutions; partnership in goals and gender equality, all of which are goals in the UN-SDGs-package. According to New York Times, we knew the coronavirus is coming, yet we failed “the vulnerabilities that COVID-19 has revealed were a predictable outgrowth of our market-based health care system”. Also, in Europe, the crisis has been systematically developed and evolved during very long periods, e.g. for Sweden (https://mobil.unt.se/ledare/mangarigt-kaos-i-varden-av-de-allra-aldsta-5564852.aspx) as the death of coronavirus in olderly health care is above 45%. There are several reports of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes across Europe, e.g. strains on health and social care systems and healthcare workers have been reported with shortages in laboratory and testing capacity, personal protective equipment and healthcare capacity (including ICU ventilator and healthcare workforce capacity and staff being absent due to illness, quarantine or isolation (covid-19-rapid-risk-assessment-coronavirus-disease-2019-eighth-update-8-april-2020.pdf). These highlight vulnerability of the elderly in long-term care settings and the importance of infection control measures to protect the vulnerable population in nursing homes. However, this is the situation of the reality as we know it today and more unknown data and facts will be unfolded gradually as the COVID-19 pandemic will still remain with us for some time. There is no definite answer how long it will keep circulating and how the future will be. Let us hope that we will not have the same fate as the dinosaurs, it was probably a virus that caused them to disappear. When science and technology has no solution it is only the natural laws of the survival of the fittest as described by Darwin.
Indeed, the pandemic is far from bring over and several counties, e.g. in Europe are hesitating in opening their economies or rather have considerable difficulties and uncertainties to do so. At the same time the rates of infections and death are still rapidly growing in many countries around the world, e.g. Russia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Bangladesh, Colombia, South Africa, Egypt, Kuwait, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq and Bolivia (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/).
We are back to Darwins time of the 19th century which strongly motivated him to do research on biological evolution rather than studying medicine. Ironically, he didn’t realize the strong links between medicine and biological evolution which we are facing today because of our tight interaction with ecosphere to secure our food. In his research he answered many questions as how species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwinism).
In the shadow of the first COVID-19 pandemic and as we are slowly seeing some glims of recovery we started to get new warnings of feared threats of a second corona wave. It is difficult to forecast how such a wave would like as there are so many unknowns and variables in terms of how, when and where we will be reopening our economy, also where, when and how the second wave will take place? Here we see complex scenarios involving multi-layered ‘physical-chemical-biological’ dynamic interactions involving a wide-range of parameters and factors that we rarely experienced on the global scale in our modern urbanized lifestyle. The geological era of the anthropocene that is forming our todays reality has never been as complex and dynamic as we have it today. It is even an impossible wicked problem for our supercomputers to solve and it is only a matter of a vanishing amount luck that can save us. Yes it is a true, harsh and certain inconvenient reality. The COVID-19 will not go away by itself, why should it, and what we currently know about COVID-19 is not enough to save us as we are still blind, locked-down all together in a dark quarantine and searching about a dark object called COVID-19.
As far as we know from previous historical evolutions epidemics of infectious diseases behave in different ways. With this in mind loosen restrictions in many countries is raising concerns in the UK and Germany about the potential for a second wave and how Europe should respond. The 1918 influenza pandemic for example killed more than 50 million people in multiple waves, with the latter more severe than the first (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/20/will-there-be-second-wave-of-coronavirus-).
It does not come with a surprise that we are getting many new alarming warns from leading expertise about a possible second wave of COVID-19 (https://www.livescience.com/covid-19-second-wave-flu-season.html; https://www.thecut.com/2020/05/second-wave-coronavirus.html). Reopening our economy without having various precautions and enough preparedness about how to deal with a possible new outbreak of a second wave is just a blind gambling. It is, therefore, legitimate and understandable that our public-health officials and private citizens alike are beginning to worry about an unknown, unsafe and insecure future. A failure this time would mean a bad fall and a bad winter with disastrous global impacts. The resurgence of COVID-19 next winter could hit many countries’ health care systems even harder than the original outbreak and this is according to the warns from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A second wave that may very well coincide with the start of the usual flu season in many places, i.e. a more difficult one than we just went through of a flu epidemic and a coronavirus epidemic at the same time. So there are fears in the US that the second wave could be much more severe (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/21/coronavirus-secondwave-cdcdirector/%3foutputType=amp). In this context there are much concern and discussions what regards reopening the economy in the US (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/04/29/health/us-coronavirus-wednesday/index.html). Also, if this takes place in the spring we will also have double threat from a coincidence of regional spring allergies in different parts of the world from e.g. pollen, dust/sand or other fine M2.5 particles and aerosols with coronavirus epidemic. Imagine now these can even take place in heavily polluted areas with toxic chemical and physical particulate aerosols or gases. In our globalized, over-populated and urbanized world that we live in today we need to build public health infrastructure that ensure that we have the capacity to stay in the containment mode on all levels and scales. It goes without saying that the fast wave of worldwide urbanization after the second world war and the tight interactions between humans, animal and food production systems, also the global trade and business infrastructures have definitely brought much more health risks for increasing pandemics. Much more need to be done regarding the combined effects and integrated impacts of physical-chemical-biological pollution. It is unfortunate that we examine these impacts separately as our respiratory system is without hesitation dependent on air-quality and the collective/integrated doses from these pollution sources ’physical-chemical-biological’.
Another interesting issue that strongly influencing the rate of infections and death is the age structure (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_world) in different countries. Though the size of population in Europe and the US is 26.5% of the world population, the highest infection and death rates do exist in these parts of the world though they enjoy high living standards. One of the reasons for such high rates is that a relatively more proportion of the population in these countries is over 65 years as compared to Africa and Asia. While Africa and Asia has more younger population, e.g. under 15 years. According to 2018 world statistics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_world; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy; https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/median-age/) Europe has 16% under 15 years and 18% over 65 years; North America (mainly the USA) has 19% under 15 years and 15% over 65 years. The corresponding figures for Africa and Asia are as follows 41% younger than 15 years and only 3% older than 65 years for Africa; and 24% younger than 15 years and 8% older than 65 years for Asia. Africa enjoys the youngest population in the world and to a lesser extent the same for West Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of the Americas. Part of the explanation is also related to the culture and management of health care of the elderly which is very clear by comparing e.g. Sweden by New Zealand. It is now suggested that e.g. Sweden will be re-examining its elderly health care system as the COVID-19 pandemic (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/) has shown that the health care of the elderly in Sweden need to be revisited. Though there are much worse infection and death rates in Europe and the USA, Sweden usually leads the world in innovation and improvements once that realize what goes wrong. The issue in Sweden is about that Sweden took a different path of tackling the COVID-19 as Sweden has generous space and landscape as the rest of the Nordic countries, so the citizens can whenever they want enjoy natural social distancing by escaping the tight urbanized centers of cities. It is rather that very high percentage of infections and deaths are taking place in the health care institutions of the elderly people. Hopefully, the rest of Europe and the USA need to revisit their living style and their elderly health care systems as well.
Different strategies and approaches have been implemented in various spatio-temporal scenarios by different countries to cope with breakdown of COVID-19, its local, regional and global evolution in terms of spreading and containment. Never in the history of humanity there have been such involvement of politicians, policy-makers, stakeholders and citizens as we are experiencing in the COVID-19 pandemics. Thanks to the wide-scale of engagement worldwide and the open access to everyone to the World Wide Web ‘WWW’ (https://sv.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web) that made information, data and statistics as well as the critical analyses of news on COVID-19 openly accessible and affordable worldwide. With some exception in the variations of the quality of information and data, it has been possible to follow with reasonable convenience the COVID-19 pandemics also with possibilities for live-updates (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?utm_campaign=homeAdUOA?Si). So far great achievements with various degrees of success were obtained, yet much need to be done to declare being winners against COVID-19. Currently, it is not certain if we can securely and safely reopen our economies at least globally on local and regional levels. It is too early to say when and how we can do so. We are in a transition state requiring new measures and actions to get the situation under total control and not to be confronted continuously with a pressing state of “lifting or not lifting” the restrictions of the total lockdown of socio-economic activities and businesses around the globe. In this context, so many countries are confronted with yet complex challenges and difficult decisions. The way to go back to normal life is not simple, easy or straightforward or even clear as it would involve several careful and well-balanced decisions on multi-layered spatio-temporal scales involving how COVID-19 would look like after recovering from the first round of the pandemic in the northern hemi-sphere. Currently, we started to see signes of partial spatio-temporal recovery in many, but still limited, places around the world as we see, also, signes of partial spatio-temporal spreading in other regions far from the original epi-centers in China, Europe, Asia and the USA. So, there would be unknown delayed-effects here and there with further negative feedbacks. There are mainstream theories or hypotheses and even evident-based facts on why we have achieved various successes or failures in coping with COVID-19. Among high-lights is the secret behind New Zealand’s (https://youtu.be/mKorML1GPVY), Vietnam’s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_coronavirus_pandemic_in_Vietnam), Germany’s (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/610225/) COVID-19 success, also to some extent UAE (https://www.khaleejtimes.com/Dubai-lifts-24-hr-movement-restrictions-in-Naif-Al-Ras–), just to mention some. Is it the wise management of New Zealand’s, Vietnam’s, Germany’s and UAE’s or are there other yet unknown circumstances? Is it because of policy-makers and their leadership as based on scientific background and how science-based approaches are coordinated with effective engagement of public/private institutions, stakeholders and citizens? Or is it the strong appeal to the notion of social togetherness and the believe that we will pass this test if all citizens genuinely see this as their task? Is it also, about the very rational assurances and emotional appeal to the citizens, institutions and stakeholders at a time of rising panic? In any case, it is thanks to a variety of factors, e.g. Vietnam, New Zealand, Germany and UAE that appear that these countries have dealt with the outbreak better than many other countries. Germans for example largely continue to heed the chancellor’s detailed directives. Unlike in the US, Italy, Spain, France, the UK and others with high rates of cases and deaths, total deaths in Germany, Vietnam, New Zealand and UAE have been relatively low or even very low. However, any resulting successes are at least in some degree attributable to the leadership, a way of bringing “divergent interests together in compromise,” as explained by some. Their abilities to admit what they don’t know, and delegate decisions, have been particularly important for healthy political structures. In the case of Germany, it is about putting together experts from well-funded scientific-research organizations, including public-health agencies and the country’s network of public universities. The Berlin Institute of Health, a biomedical-research institution, has, like other organizations, recently pivoted its efforts in order to study the coronavirus, e.g, working closely together to “establish nationwide systems” of research. The federal government, with Merkel at the helm, plays a convening role, recently gathering all of the country’s university medical departments into a single coronavirus task force. The virus is still far from defeated but judging by Merkel’s approach in collating information, her honesty in stating what is not yet known, and her composure she may someday be remembered not as Germany’s greatest scientist, but as its scientist in chief: the political leader who executed, celebrated, and personified evidence-based thinking when it mattered most. This is an unfailing demonstration on how the “Scientific Approach” even in wicked socio-economic crises can lead us to successful outcomes. On the other-side of the mainstream celebrities and politicians with large social media followings are proving to be key distributors of disinformation, random thinking and irrational speculations relating to coronavirus. According to a study that suggests the factcheckers and mainstream news outlets are struggling to compete with the reach of influencers. The actor Woody Harrelson and the singer MIA, for example, have faced criticism after sharing baseless claims about the supposed connection of 5G to the pandemic, while comments by the likes of the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, playing down the scale of the crisis in the face of scientific evidence have attracted criticism in recent days (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/apr/08/influencers-being-key-distributors-of-coronavirus-fake-news). This also the case of president Trump that considerably played down the risks of COVID-19 and delayed putting in place mitigation actions, also as unlike other global leaders who pledged to accelerate cooperation on a coronavirus vaccine and to share research, treatment and medicines across the globe did not take part in the WHO initiative with a sign of Trump’s increasing isolation on the global stage. Both China and the US have accused each other of bullying and disinformation over the COVID-19 outbreak thus damaging efforts to secure cooperation at the G20, the natural international institution to handle global health outside the UN (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/24/us-stays-away-as-world-leaders-agree-action-on-covid-19-vaccine). Yet, as countries from Italy to New Zealand have announced the easing of coronavirus lockdowns, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, back at work on Monday after being hospitalised with the disease, announced that it was too early to relax restrictions there (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/04/27/some-countries-prise-open-covid-19-lockdowns-but-uk-says-not-yet/). For Europe as a whole it remains to see how the economy will be reopened (https://shmfakhruddin-net.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/shmfakhruddin.net/2020/04/20/europes-plan-to-ease-restrictions-for-covid19/amp/). This reflects how sound policies play an important role not only in saving lives but also in how fast economies can be reopened and recovered.
The aftermath what regards the war against COVID-19 is uncovering many inconvenient truths. Naturally we have to protect ourselves but essential questions such as how to cope with the devastating threats of new waves of emerging viruses, what are these viruses and why they emerge with increasing destructive impacts remain to be unknown. COVID-19 is certainly a repeated strong reminder for humanity that planet earth is undergoing a new and yet unknown biological evolution that can lead to similar outcomes that caused the very annihilation of the dinosaurs. Science and technology as we have today are unable to predict what new viruses we will have in the future and how such viruses can mutate, evolve and behave. Above all what global instruments, tools and solutions do we have and more important to agree on. Without such knowledge we can not and will not be able to survive and the war against COVID-19 turned out to be a war against us, i.e. on the longterm against our global economy ‘economic sphere’ and all ecosystems on the planet ‘ecological sphere’. Science and technology are supporting the existing linear economy and not per se the the health and wealth of our planet. Above all we don’t know when such viruses are likely to show up and if they show up what would they look like? Probably we can survive COVID-19 but what about the new comers? We can only know when they hit us just like earthquakes? They would appear whenever and wherever they like with a spectra of unpredictable strengths and magnitudes. The inconvenient truth is that science and technology has constrains; the limitations in the physics of exactly when and where earthquakes will take place are of the same nature of the limitations in biology when and where new viruses (https://youtu.be/NJLXdsO1GBI) will appear and how? These very secrets of nature will remain a mystery for humans. This has been the case of COVID-19, it is just exploded everywhere on planet earth, it doesn’t matter where it started as it could have started somewhere else other than Wuhan in China especially in a world that is undergoing shortage in food. COVID-19 had two major tectonic threats, an economic and an ecologic one. So, in the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic their appear to be two emerging global ‘pandemics’, an economic one and an ecologic one. Apart from health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic and ecologic ‘pandemics’ will stay with us for longtime and will certainly come back to us with the evolution of new viruses. The battle against viruses, by being persistent mobile genetic elements, has already started and will continue with a new spiral of economic and ecologic ‘pandemics’. The ecological pandemic will continue to cause considerable biological degradation and destruction of the ecosphere. This will accelerate as consequence of COVID-19 where the poor has no alternatives other than draining the ecosphere for their living and with this comes new spirals of accelerating poverty (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52294991; https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.france24.com/en/business/20200331-world-bank-warns-coronavirus-will-increase-poverty-risk) and the feedback of such poverty is deepening the ecological crises with more degradation in the ecosphere (https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2020/applying-the-hard-lessons-of-coronavirus-to-the-biodiversity-cri.html; https://www.google.se/amp/s/theconversation.com/amp/the-new-coronavirus-emerged-from-the-global-wildlife-trade-and-may-be-devastating-enough-to-end-it-133333). The economic ‘pandemic’ has already started since our complete and accelerating dependence of our linear economy on the earth’s fossil and mineral resources, e.g. in the lithosphere (https://www.slideshare.net/seamonr/lithosphere-1-notes-117373827), as such resources are finite though it may appear that linear economy has generated wealth for some of us but in the long run we are draining the planet from our natural inherited capital. This is also apparent from COVID-19 as much of the world population will suffer with the catastrophic economic consequences, i.e. the economical ‘pandemic’ that is facing and will face us in the future (https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-52344540/coronavirus-us-protests-against-and-for-lockdown-restrictions; https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2020/04/hundreds-protest-coronavirus-stay-home-orders-200418195601596.html; https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/business-52273988; https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.dw.com/en/as-the-coronavirus-triggers-a-global-economic-crisis-just-how-bad-could-it-get/a-53000638). So, we are getting a new emerging kind of biological pollution that is far much disastrous for humans and the ecosphere as compared to the existing physical and chemical pollution and waste on planet earth. So, the Anthropocene is getting hard gripe on our planet with all forms and cocktails of physical, chemical and biological pollution and waste. Science and technology as it is today are serving political policies and supporting market activities where both of which are essential components of existing growth economy that govern the rules and trends in our era of the Anthropocene.
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.
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 toknow 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.