Remember when we were children and our mothers would say, “eat up your soggy cabbage,” well maybe she wouldn’t use the word soggy “think of all those starving children in Africa who would be only too pleased to have this food.” We would sigh and reply sarcastically, “well parcel it up then and post it to them,” sniggering that even the African children would have refused mum’s vegetables. Well sometimes I feel a bit like this with COVID. I know there are millions of people so much worse off than me and I need to be eternally grateful for my situation but sometimes it is just hard. And today is another one of those days.
I should feel optimistic that for the first time in history, nearly every scientist in the world is focused on the same problem. Shame that couldn’t happen with other diseases. I remember writing a story for The New Scientist on a possible new Malaria vaccine when I was based in Paris in 1982. I was perturbed back then that scientists seemed to be in a race to see who could be the first rather than pooling resources to find a vaccine. Naively I hadn’t quite realised the role of economics. But if economics can be side-tracked in working to find a vaccine for a COVID maybe this will pave the way for a better future. Or am I being naive again.
My immunologist friend tells me that this time next year there should be a vaccine. My American friends say it will be early 2021. I await it with impatience. In the meantime, I have to watch my friends going on holiday and enjoying a life outside which I, at the moment, am not able to join. And yes, I am a bit envious.
What makes me so angry it that it could have been different if we had been better prepared. Admittedly we were not going to stop the pandemic but if we had listened to the very many warnings and taken heed to what the experts were advising we would certainly have been better prepared for what has hit us. But, as always, it is about politics. Governments think in 4 year periods. The minute they get into power they are thinking about how to win the next election and pandemic preparation, when there hasn’t been a global one, is not very sexy and will not bring in voters. Of course, COVID19 might change this.
Extract from Harvard Business Review from May 2006 – makes chilling reading.
If the virus does mutate into a form that transmits easily from person to person—and this is the pivotal unknown—in the best case, the World Health Organization (WHO) says, 2 million people could die. In the worst case, according to some experts’ projections, up to 30% of the world’s population could be stricken over the course of roughly a year, resulting in as many as 150 million deaths and perhaps more than a billion people requiring medical care. It takes little imagination to envision the impact this could have on global business as employees fall ill, supply chains fragment, and services fail.
Should a pandemic emerge, it would become the single greatest threat to business continuity and could remain so for up to 18 months. Companies need to develop rigorous contingency plans to slow the progress of a pandemic and limit its impact on employees, shareholders, partners, consumers, and communities. This will require more than simply double-checking the soundness of existing business continuity plans.
Meanwhile I am doing my own in-house pandemic preparations. With Linda going back to work as a waitress she and Toby need to move downstairs into what was the lodger’s room and share the bathroom with the eldest son who has temporarily moved back home! Leaving upstairs COVID free for mum. Well that’s the plan anyway.
It does mean, however that I am going to be the chief cook and bottle washer as the kitchen will be out of bounds. Somehow, I get the feeling that I just might come out worst here. So much for the kids leaving home and me regaining my freedom. The kids are back and I have less freedom than ever before.
Not to self: Just eat up your greens Felstein, stop moaning and count your blessings.
“Let’s be careful out there”