Despite the lockdowns that have crippled economies across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is still a long way to go to defeat the virus as most countries are still in the early stages of dealing with the pandemic. With businesses going belly-up and millions of workers laid off or working shortened hours, the UN is also warning that the world is facing “a humanitarian catastrophe”. It doesn’t help that farm output is also down, and with supply chains and points of sale all affected by the virus, food prices are rising while profits are falling. Widespread hunger and starvation has become a very likely scenario.
And with a world hoping for some good news, hearing WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus say “make no mistake: we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time” is hardly reassuring. Unfortunately, it is true, which means we must reexamine how and when we will ever have a chance to recover from the crippling impact of the virus. Even the world’s richest country is struggling. Barely able to handle its domestic virus situation, the US economy is tanking, and Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield believes, “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.”
Globalisation was supposed to raise the Third World up to acceptable living standards, not pull the First World down to Third World standards. But with no vaccine in sight till at least next March, according to US and EU medical experts, there is a legitimate fear for how much more the world can afford to lose before it is too late. We knew we would never get the dead back. This is why most countries were willing to accept the lockdowns at first. But as it becomes increasingly likely that we may never get our economies back, new solutions are needed.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2020.
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