In nearly every hundred years, the world suffers from one fatal pandemic, with one among three generations expected to suffer from the impacts of a pandemic. And in our generation, in the late day of December 2019; the first cases of pneumonia of unknown origin was identified and reported in Wuhan town, in Hubei province, China.
A respirator disease that is highly contagious and has non-fatal and fatal complications swept through the world in 2020 and still does to this day. In fact, almost all pandemics are transmitted by respiratory droplets/airway/. The causative agent for the newly emerging cases is caused by a single-strand, positive-sense ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus.
Within almost a week, the pathogen was identified as a novel enveloped RNA betacoronavirus2, renamed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which has a phylogenetic similarity to SARS-CoV.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a public health emergency of international concern. Disease of interest and disease of concern differs in this case. The clinical manifestations included asymptomatic to symptomatic cases with symptoms including high grade fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, malaise, fatigue and other constitutional symptoms.
Globally, as of 9:47 AM, March 4, 2022, there have been 442,084,034 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5,981,137 deaths, as per Johns Hopkins tracker data. A total of 10,551,509,923 vaccine doses have also been administered.
The future of the world, to some extent, has changed forever in many ways and Human life before and after the pandemic will not be the same.
People relentlessly acted on identifying and managing the emerging pandemic, with, case notification and surveillance, researching means of transmissions, symptoms and complications as well as clinical strides were shared within the scientific community, across the globe. The mainstream media’s coverage of the emerging threat was 24 hours. The WHO, CDC, regional CDC’s and Health Ministers strived to minimize the spread of the disease.
Globalization had fostered the transmission and broadcast of news from all angles. Within two weeks of the pandemic, scientists discovered the gene sequence of the virus and the WHO identified the case, nomenclated the disease and developed a roadmap, urging scientists and health officials to engage strongly to halt the pandemic from spreading further.
Conspiracy theories had reemerged and were thrusted into the limelight for the public to debate. The west-east rivalry took on another shape and rivals had begun to compete for the future of the world, and assert dominance. Business allies, entrepreneurs and companies went into this pandemic shoulder to shoulder, competing to produce and provide personal protective equipment’s and avail drugs to COVID -19 ill patients. Now, it has extended to cover the vaccine economy, technology, marketing, vaccine equity and distribution and its misperception.
Until recent days, four types of variants of the virus and four waves of the pandemic had passed. We have lost our families, colleagues and professionals, including the ophthalmologist who first identified the disease in Wuhan Hospital: Dr Lee.
We have learned a lot since then. The first being how we communicate and how we react. We have learnt how to confront, challenge and solve problems. Global collaboration, communication and data sharing became the cornerstones to fighting the pandemic.
There are clearly unanswered questions. Is the disease biologically derived? Is it a result of global competition? Is it ‘biological weapon? Are the conspiracy theories true?
One thing is true though; the virus exists and has killed millions. Millions have been infected. More than eight in ten were asymptomatic and less than one in ten had manifested moderate to severe forms of the diseases. We owe China and Italy a lot of gratitude for sharing with us their data about COVID-19.
Countries declared sweeping restriction of movement, quarantines and lockdowns. Wearing PPEs become mandatory. Ethiopia is not an exception. The first index case of COVID-19 [first case notified to the public] was reported in Ethiopia in March 13, 2020.
I personally felt caught between hope and despair, and trust and mistrust. We had had get-togethers with friends, conversed with families and colleagues, and everyone was frustrated. We even discussed possible scenarios, and searched for the dos and don’ts regarding the virus, but established facts were rare, it being novel and all. We speculated on possible outcomes. I personally had shared a lot.
(Bedilu Abebe can be reached at [email protected])
Contributed by Bedilu Abebe