When Covid-19 caught our attention in January, we must have thought that it was confined only to China and was going away soon. Then the virus spread to other countries with Italy and Spain becoming hotspots. Today, the pandemic has shaken the world.
As of Thursday, July 9, 2020, there were a total of 11,874,226 confirmed cases worldwide. The United States and Brazil are seeing the worst with confirmed cases of 2,973,695 and 1,668,589, respectively. The three other countries with the highest number of cases are India with 767,296, Russian Federation with 707,301 and Peru with 309,278. On June 29, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made a statement marking the six-month anniversary of the outbreak with deaths reaching more than 500,000. He said that “the pandemic has brought out the best and the worst of humanity.” WHO, with the help of partners, has pursued programs to stop transmission and save lives. Among these are SolidarityTrial, to find answers fast to which drugs are the most effective; Solidarity Flights, to ship millions of test kits and tons of personal protective equipment to many countries; and Solidarity Response Fund, which has raised more than US$223 million for the response.
Even with the US withdrawing support for WHO, the body remains steadfast in its mission that includes finding a vaccine as a long-term tool for controlling the virus. The director-general said the task is not that of WHO alone, but every country. He pointed out five priorities for leaders of each nation to focus on: empower communities, suppress transmission, save lives, accelerate research and political leadership In communities. Ghebreyesus said that “Every individual must understand that they are not helpless—there are things everyone should do to protect themselves and others. Your health is in your hands.” Each of us therefore must take responsibility, by listening to and observing the directives from government and health officials so as to suppress the spread of the virus. Most importantly, politics should provide leadership in this time of crisis.
Sadly, this has become a stumbling block. Take, for instance, US President Donald Trump, who defies logic in addressing the pandemic in his country in his desire to win a second term. To many of us, this pandemic has become personal, with people we know being infected, if not dying. We are in the midst of the war where victory seems uncertain.
The WHO director-general addresses each one of us: “We’re all in this together, and we’re all in this for the long haul. We will need even greater stores of resilience, patience, humility and generosity in the months ahead. We have already lost so much—but we cannot lose hope.”