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Withstanding Covid-19: A philosophical standpoint

corona-virus

Nowadays, everybody appears to be so stuck, worried, and engaged in talking, reading, writing, speaking, and listening about Covid-19 and that alone. The psychological irony of any prolonged adverse development of any sort is that the loss of confidence, trust, positivity, calmness, and rational thinking becomes much more severe and significant than the actual loss in terms of financial, physical, or human lives. This article attempts to shed some lights regarding withstanding Covid-19 from a philosophical standpoint

  1. Know the history

We have witnessed a lot of terrific development and losses a few times in the world history. If we take a moment to reel back to the world history, we will find that some events were more fatal than Covid-19 in different decades and centuries across the globe. For instance, humankind has already survived the two world wars, economic recessions, major political revolutions, to name a few. Even in terms of health pandemics, we have survived many. The table below encompasses a few of the major health pandemics that had occurred in the world history.

Sn Name Time period Type / Pre-human host Death toll (In affected Regions)
1 Antonine plague 165-180 Believed to be either smallpox or measles 5M
2 Japanese smallpox epidemic 735-737 Variola major virus 1M
3 Plague of Justinian 541-542 Yersinia pestis bacteria / Rats, fleas 30-50M
4 Black Death 1347-1351 Yersinia pestis bacteria / Rats, fleas 200M
5 New world smallpox outbreak 1520 – onwards Variola major virus 56M
6 Great Plague of London 1665 Yersinia pestis bacteria / Rats, fleas 100,000
7 Italian plague 1629-1631 Yersinia pestis bacteria / Rats, fleas 1M
8 Cholera pandemics 1-6 1817-1923 V. cholerae bacteria 1M+
9 Third Plague 1885 Yersinia pestis bacteria / Rats, fleas 12M (China and India)
10 Yellow fever Late 1800s Virus / Mosquitoes 100,000-150,000 (U.S.)
11 Russian flu 1889-1890 Believed to be H2N2 (avian origin) 1M
12 Spanish flu 1918-1919 H1N1 virus / Pigs 40-50M
13 Asian flu 1957-1958 H2N2 virus 1.1M
14 Hong Kong flu 1968-1970 H3N2 virus 1M
15 HIV/AIDS 1981-present Virus / Chimpanzees 25-35M
16 Swine flu 2009-2010 H1N1 virus / Pigs 200,000
17 SARS 2002-2003 Coronavirus / Bats, Civets 770
18 Ebola 2014-2016 Ebolavirus / Wild animals 11,000
19 MERS 2015-Present Coronavirus / Bats, camels 850
20 COVID-19 2019-Present Coronavirus – Unknown (possibly pangolins) 53,167 (Apr 02, 2020)

Source: www:history.com/news/pandemics, www:nhs.uk/condition/sars, www: cdc.gov/flu/pandemic,  www:livescience.com/worst-epandemics, www:visualcapitalist.com

So, let us pause for a moment and just imagine how those people felt during those tough times? Who could survive and made a speedy recovery and bounce back quickly and how? What sort of mindset was fruitful and what sort of mindset was not fruitful? Obviously, the ones who could manage somehow to remain calm, positive, and hopeful even amidst the crisis were the ones who could survive and bounce back quickly.

Even in Nepal, if we recall all major political as well as economic turning points and try to figure out what sort of mindset was beneficial and what sort of mindset was not beneficial, we will deduce the same conclusion.

It is obvious and proven time and again in the history that the survivors and the winners are highly spirited by calmness, positivity, and confidence.

Hence, let us all embrace the same virtues to protect ourselves from Covid-19. Needless to mention, the advice pertaining to precautions to be taken is obviously not to be forgotten.

  1. Know the facts

Let us closely analyse the facts:

The mortality rate for age group below 60 years is only 2.30% and that for age group above 60 years is 33.50%.

The mortality rate of Covid-19 is much lower as compared to other viruses. The countries that immediately focused on carrying out test, arranging personal protective equipment, and contact tracing and isolation (for example Australia, Canada, South Korea, Norway, Israel, Germany) could contain the spread and minimise death.

India announced nationwide lockdown for 21 days on March 24 after detecting the first confirmed case on January 30. India has so far been highly successful in containing the spread of the virus and minimising the death despite having a population of more than 1.30 billion and despite lacking sufficient medical infrastructures as compared to other developed countries.

China being the epicentre of the virus has been highly successful in getting through it. Ambitious, agile, aggressive and harsh steps were taken by the Chinese government like immediate lockdown of major cities, swift steps in construction of dedicated hospitals, pooling and concentrating the healthcare workers in hardest hit areas, aggressive social distancing measures and contact tracing and isolation and mass testing measures etc. Two widely used mobile phone apps, AliPay and WeChat, also helped enforce the restrictions, because they allow the government to keep track of people’s movements and even stop people with confirmed infections from traveling.

Colour codes on mobile phones—in which green, yellow, or red designate a person’s health status—let guards at train stations and other checkpoints know who to let through. In the end, infected people rarely spread the virus to anyone but members of their own household. Once all the people in an apartment or home were exposed, the virus had nowhere else to go and chains of transmission ended.

Screenshot from healthmap.org

The WHO says Covid-19 is still an unclear infectious disease, which means we can only obtain an accurate prediction after the outbreak ends. The outbreak spreads are largely influenced by each country’s policy and social responsibility. As data transparency is crucial inside the government, it is also our responsibility not to spread unverified news and to remain calm in this situation.

Further studies need to be done to help contain the outbreak as soon as possible.  This outbreak is assumed to reach its peak in late May 2020 and will start to drop around early July 2020.

Source: https://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/20-255695.pdf

Progress regarding vaccines and medicines

Vaccine Company Platform Stage Description Location
mRNA-1273 Moderna RNA Phase-I, First Patient Dosed First done in a human in the US. Vaccine consists of a synthetic strand of mRNA designed to elicit an immune response to produce antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 US
Ads-nCoV CanSino Bio Non- Replicating Virus Vector Phase I Benefits from previous success in the Ebola virus (time to market-3 Years). The vaccine being developed is based on viral vectors (adenovirus) to deliver antigens to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein China
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 University of Oxford Non- Replicating Virus Vector Phase I/II Enrolling 500+ individuals to test its vaccine candidate, which uses a non-replicating virus to deliver RNA into cells UK
LV-SMENP-DC Shenzhen Geno-Immune Medical Institute Lentiviral Phase I/II Begun early testing of its vaccine candidate. The vaccine uses a lentiviral vector to deliver Covid-19 minigenes to modify dendritic cells and activate T cells China
BCG Vaccine Research Group Live Attenuated Virus (LAV) Phase II/III Repurposing the BCG vaccine, originally for TB, to fight SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare workers at the high risk of infection. 1,000 individuals will be enrolled across eight hospitals to receive the vaccine or placebo. Netherlands
BCG Vaccine Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Live Attenuated Virus (LAV) Phase II/III The Brace trial will conduct a randomised, multi-center study of the TB vaccine in 4,000 healthcare workers across Australia. Australia

Source: FDA, WHO and Company Website

  1. Know Nepal’s capacity and preparedness

In Nepal, there are nine cases, including eight imported and one local. Around 2,000 persons have been tested. As of April 2, there are 97 hospitals, 26,587 quarantine beds and 3,113 isolation beds.

There are obviously many shortcomings and capacity gaps as Nepal’s capacity for combating the deadly virus is concerned if we compare it with that of developed countries. However, one interesting fact is that the spread of virus and the death toll have, not so far, been directly proportional to the economic, social, and medical infrastructures in place in the country.  There is no denying that despite being located between China and India, Nepal has been, so far, hugely successful in containing the spread of the virus. Despite having numerous rooms for improvements, the actions undertaken by Nepal for combating Covid-19 so far is nevertheless satisfactory.

Having said so, Nepal’s failure in significantly enhancing testing capabilities, contact tracing and quarantine capabilities, and availability of adequate personal protective equipment, (isolation centers, ventilators and medicines) should not be forgotten. The country, now, should also capitalise on the great global success stories of countries like China, South Korea, Canada, Germany, Norway, Vietnam, Israel, and Singapore etc, to name a few.

The call of the hour is indeed a unified nationwide drive by rising above all interests, backgrounds, and ideologies to combat the crisis.

  1. Know the functioning of the ecosystem

In the ecosystem of the earth, every creature/species, and every other thing has been incredibly and perfectly balanced. When a balance starts to shake, Mother Nature has her own ways of mending and restoring the balance. Maybe, the ongoing crisis is also a part of that ecosystem.

There are many other burning issues too in the planet we all live in, for instance: the issue of climate change, depleting ozone layers, rising sea levels, melting Himalayas over the extraction of natural resources, social and political inequalities, people living below the poverty line and not having access to even basic rights and amenities, etc. These issues are collectively posing a significant threat to global peace, harmony and stability. These issues have led to various natural calamities across the globe in the form of health hazards, floods, tsunamis, landslides, and extinction of many species in different periods of time.

So the devastation caused by Covid-19 can be understood in a couple of positive dimensions too in the sense that it has pushed the whole world and all of us to rethink everything from politics, to policy, to harmony, to equitable distribution of developmental dividends etc. Any situation of crisis is also, in disguise, an opportunity to review, revisit, and revalidate everything which would then ultimately lead to more inclusion, justice, unity, peace, stability, and ecological balance and harmony, all of which collectively will yield rich social as well as economic dividends in the long run.

Hence, let’s all also try to see the positive aspects of the ongoing pandemic and feel some relief.

  1. Know that this is not the end

The terrific part of any catastrophe is that it sabotages our ability to think above and beyond the ongoing devastation. However, everything comes to an end sooner or later. If we remain too engaged in the devastation and could not see the world after that, obviously, we will feel trapped by the darkness and darkness alone even though there will always be prospects, a life, and future after the end of each catastrophe.

So while facing the Covid-19 pandemic, we should always be mindful that this, like any other catastrophe in the history, will also come to an end sooner or later and we should try to foresee the light, life, and future after the end of the ongoing pandemic. This could boost a sense of hope, positivity, and confidence and enable us to remain patient and calm so that we can bounce back swiftly for even greater good.

Hence, let’s all know that in the journey of our lives, this is only an event and not the whole life itself. Once we get through this pandemic, there are a huge bunch of beautiful prospects, opportunities, and discoveries and we should always keep up the hope, positivity, and confidence.

  1. Know the difference between preparing and panicking and Know how to be rational

‘Preparing’ means assembling all the tools, and resources required to face an event so that when one faces it one is fully prepared to eliminate or minimise the troubles and losses arising from that event. On the other hand, ‘panicking’ means acting in despair, losing hope, and acting unnecessarily desperately. Preparing is always good whereas panicking never helps.

So, in order to smartly face the current pandemic, we should be well prepared. However, we should never panic. When we know the difference between preparing and panicking, we get a fair idea as to what should be done and what should not.

Hence, let’s make sure that we are preparing but not panicking and remain calm, positive, and confident.

Being rational means ensuring that an obvious common sense prevails so that we can make logical decisions. When one tries to be rational, one can correlate the cause and impact well and make proper and warranted decisions.

So, in the context of ongoing pandemic, we should utilise our common sense well and should not run after the rumours, fake news, and speculative notions and opinions.

Hence, let us all remain rational and make sure that we judge all the information and situation rationally by utilising our common sense, logical reasoning, and critical thinking. This will also prevent us from being impulsive and protect us from a lot of negativities.

  1. Know what is good and what is bad; plan for the best and prepare for the worst

Whenever one tries to rise above the ongoing crisis and carefully analyse and evaluate the outcomes of various actions that one can opt to do today, one gets a fair idea as to what is good to do now and what is bad.

In order to keep us cool, calm, focused, disciplined and determined even amidst the ongoing pandemic, we should try to have a constructive and pragmatic mindset instead of allowing ourselves to be ruined by negative thoughts, emotions, and news.

Hence, let us all figure out what is good and what is bad for us. This will help us make sure that the senses continue to prevail in everything we do, and we do not lose calmness, patience, and hope.

Many times, one may fall victim to the fear of the unknown. One may not be able to exactly figure out what can go wrong in the best case, most likely case and worst-case scenarios. In the absence of that, one cannot fully prepare for the worst thing that can possibly happen and plan, prepare and act accordingly.

All of us operate in a very uncertain world. Nobody has a sure idea as to what will happen in the future in our family, society, country, and the whole world as we surge ahead in our lives. There are so many uncertainties in our lives even without any pandemic. Hence, we should always try to analyse and evaluate the best case, most likely case, and worst-case scenarios. This will help us make more wise, farsighted, considered, calculated, and scientific actions and decisions. Even amidst the ongoing crisis, we are knowingly or unknowingly making some of the decisions, which we may regret after a few years.

Hence, let us hold ourselves for a moment and try to analyse and evaluate the best case, most likely case, and worst-case scenarios that can happen and plan and prepare ourselves accordingly. This could help us ensure that we continue to remain prudent, wise, and farsighted even at the face of the ongoing pandemic. This could relieve our stress and anxieties. In most of the occasions, in the end, nothing is as dreadful as we could have thought in the middle of a crisis. We may have fallen victim to the fear of the unknown which could have sabotaged our mind and emotions and led to desperate reactions.

  1. Know how to promote a positive environment

Humans are social creatures. The context explains the background of anything, and the environment determines the context. If anything good or bad is a relative measure and benchmarks are developed taking reference of the environment. What we consider good in Nepal may not be considered good in other parts of the world. Our perception of truth is always influenced by our social structures, practices, religion, value system, and the belief system which can be collectively termed as socio-cultural environment.

We all have the tremendous influence of socio-cultural environment upon us. If the environment that we operate in is positive, we generally tend to have positive feelings and vice versa. Even at the face of Covid-19 pandemic, some countries and individuals are positive, some others are neutral, and some others are negative too. This has tremendously impacted the effectiveness of their actions and decisions to face and overcome the pandemic. Every situation including the pandemic is certainly a management situation. Some have managed it excellently, others have managed it reasonably well, and others have managed it poorly. Accordingly, the results are varied.

Hence, we should promote a positive environment all around us as it impacts tremendously on how we feel, decide, and act in a situation. This will tremendously help us effectively face and manage the pandemic as once the environment is positive, our decisions are more likely to be considered, calculated, and scientific.

Positive environment is important. However, should one move with the environment the way it is now, or should one emerge as an anchor of positivity? ‘Go with the flow’ may not help in tough times. One needs to emerge as an anchor of positivity, hope, and confidence. This is extremely important as most of the people turn negative, less hopeful, less positive, and less confident while facing a major crisis. This in turns drives the entire environment to be the same and in turn even a neutral person starts to enter the zone of negativity. Then, a vicious cycle of negativity comes into play, further worsening the environment and people’s mindset with sharp depletion in collective wisdom, positivity, and hope.

We should understand that when the environment is not that positive, we should emerge as an anchor of positivity, hope, and confidence and spread the same all around us which will gradually be replicated in many other people’s mind ultimately turning the whole environment to be positive and a positive cycle comes into play.

Hence, the best way to face the current pandemic is being an anchor of positivity and helping the entire environment to be positive in turn. With positivity comes hope, confidence, and rational decision making, ultimately leading to better management of the crisis.

  1. Know that everything starts from one

We just talked about a positive environment and need to emerge as a positivity anchor. However, we could also think that how can one change the notion and mindset of so many people and the whole environment. This is exactly where one needs to remember and reinforce that everything starts from one. Even this deadly pandemic started with one and went on to be so viral all over the world. All the great inventions, and transformations were made possible by a sheer coordinated endeavour of so many people. However, one should never also forget that all of them also started from one individual who believed and persisted and gradually formed a team.

One of the most powerful tools to fight this pandemic is certainly a positive mindset, with which comes a can-do attitude, hope, and confidence. All of these are basic prerequisites for anything good to happen.

Hence, amidst this crisis, we should understand the power of “one”. We should then proceed to multiply one many-fold and accumulate collective energy, which then becomes so powerful that it can defeat any crisis. The Covid-19 will obviously not be an exception to it.

  1. Know what the civic duty is now

In the current situation, the calling of civic duty is empathy on the part of all of us.

Empathise your family (focus on being constructive and productive)

We should empathise with our family and focus on being constructive and productive even at the face of such a terrific pandemic. We should utilise this lockdown in several constructive and productive ways that are important to ourselves, our family, and for the collective learning, and development of each member of the family, which will yield rich dividends later in our lives.

Empathise fellow citizens

We should also empathise fellow citizens by living in sensible, safe, and meaningful ways and at the same time helping other citizens to live safely and meaningfully. If all of us could empathise all other fellow citizens, issues of overstocking, black marketing, and many forms of injustice would gradually disappear in the long run.

Empathise government

Finally, we should also empathise our government. We should never forget that even the most developed countries and their governments are struggling to respond to the pandemic effectively. It is not that our government is acting adequately, effectively, and efficiently or vice versa. But, we need to have a partnering spirit with our government. We need to fully support the government and all its initiatives aimed at combating the crisis. Whatever way our government might be, this is obviously not the right time to waste our most precious time in arguments, criticisms, and sensitisations. Instead, the calling of the time now is an unprecedented unity, collaboration, and solidarity from all of us, all the Nepali citizens from all over the country, irrespective of differences in political ideology, caste, gender, class, age, or the like.

All of us should embody the spirit of ‘all for one’ and ‘one for all’ in all the plans, actions, and activities aimed at defeating the crisis. Divided we lose and united we win.

The author is the Chief Executive Officer of NIC Asia Bank Limited.


Published on April 8th, Wednesday, 2020 4:54 PM


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2 Comments
  • Min Raj Gyawali says: | April 09 2020 7:41pm

    A very positive and analytical outlook on the current issue

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  • Arjun Shrestha says: | April 09 2020 10:11am

    Soothing and inspiring to combat the situatuion at this moment.thank u very much.hope similar column in future

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