It was Fox News, America's conservative cable television news channel that was the first to bluntly claim that COVID-19 was a hoax, only to quickly save face by claiming they had never said so!
The vast majority of Americans distrust their elected President Donald Trump for information on the pandemic because the latter's views and claims concerning COVID-19 have been at odds with medical professionals since the day all hell broke loose.
The risk remains ceaseless
Even though people, from month old infants to elderly folks are perishing every day, millions are at high risk, leaders are taking their own lives failing to address circumstances, offenders are leaving no stone unturned to capitalize on the situation to operate a range of financial scams, most crucial of which is selling medical supplies and everyday essentials such as pulses and rice at exorbitant prices.
Even as China's global image has been dented thanks to its late response to the global epidemic, it brings me to a few decisive questions that have been echoing in my head.
If China today had free speech, could the spread of the epidemic have been prevented? No matter how much you contempt science and assault global institutions and administration, can one man bend the harshest realities of the world? As streets across the world lay empty today, as millions of lives still in peril and the deadly coronavirus inflicting mayhem, why was such unconcern for the looming crisis taken lightly? Can you imagine, some even called it "the common cold"?
Is it an hour for personal gains?
Is a lethal, worldwide pandemic less important than a single person's whims and fantasies merely to win a second term? We definitely cannot forgive the callousness with which this infection was handled, the belatedness because of which things have taken a turn for the worse across the globe. For the impulses of a few people, economies are being battered, sufferings are escalating, and man is in deep misery.
The direct outcome of this lockdown, the social distancing, has been on the most vulnerable, the most deprived like always. Millions of labor forces worldwide have been evicted from their houses without access to daily wages, employment that has been slammed for months now.
In India, news channels have been continually disseminating news of labor forces who are treading miles on foot devoid of transportation facilities. In their own words, the virus may not kill them, but hunger, stress and unemployment may just do. When an economy collapses, in theory, it produces more suffering, possibly more than the virus itself.
When the world fights against a virus
Right now, as you and I sit comfortably at our home, with our bellies full with food, washing our hands yet again with disinfectants and trying to answer inquisitive questions raised by our children; scientists, academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals are rapidly racing to develop antiviral treatments, while their families stay anxious at home, living each second on the edge, waiting for their loved ones to return home safe and sound.
Thus, no matter how much the premier of a nation, or the commander-in-chief of a developed country sing their own praises of military prowess and nuclear-powered dynamisms, right now our only weapon to keep man alive is a small vaccine, the only hope for mankind to endure.
Yes, China's global economic influence, explicitly in the pharmaceutical sector has been phenomenal and the world has been blindly importing from them, no questions asked. Here, comes a virus from the heartland of China and suddenly people are speaking of how the countries enlarging shadow over global supply chains be disregarded? Wasn't it visible all these years?
The 'hidden virus'
China's appetite to keep secrets is known. This time around the move was reinforced by President Xi Jinping's enthusiasm to be professed as a hegemony strongman, backed by a fortified Communist Party of China (CPC). But for how long could have a deadly virus been hidden?
By the time containment measures were executed, thousands of Chinese had already been infected. In a few months, a global recession in on the cards but none of this would have happened in the first place had China learnt its lessons from SARS epidemic outbreak of 2002. Sadly, it hadn't! Nevertheless, it will take a substantial amount of struggle for China's regime to reinstate its footing at home and on the world.
In India, despite governments taking severe measures to ensure people remain locked inside their houses in order to safeguard them, there still are a group of fanatics, probable crusaders, who in the name of religion are putting others' lives in danger.
Only recently, in India's capital city Delhi, over 2000 people from different parts of the country as well as from all across Asia had attended a religious convention of preachers where several have contracted the coronavirus illness. Amidst India's nationwide stern lockdown, who gave the religious leaders the authority to place so many lives in jeopardy and endanger others even in the face of stern orders that religious and public gatherings be restricted?
'God will survive the COVID-19 pandemic'
If God is there to protect you no matter what, why are some of the largest religious establishments in the world closing their places of worship, Mecca-Madina, Vatican, Tirupati, Siddhivinayak? Is hostility in the name of religion, threatening lives in the name of faith going to save mankind from a lethal virus?
God will survive the COVID 19 pandemic just as he has survived wars, famines, tsunamis and plagues, but will you? Sadly, even in 2020, man's misery and religiosity go in concert. Yes, religious activity is an essential part of your life, but how is social distancing, estranging you from your God? Can't we skip a few weeks to temples, churches and mosques and still attain swarg, heaven or Jannat?
What about the doctors' psychological burden?
On a subtler note, do you not think isolation, quarantine, one of the world's oldest medical procedures will not affect people mentally and physically? Who will pay the price of the psychological burden that doctors, nurses, police officials and other workforces globally have endured over the last few months?
Haven't you heard of post-traumatic stress? In a society where mental health is still a taboo subject and sufferers and their families profoundly stigmatized, will we dole out the same inconsiderate behavior to the humans who will save us from a possible extinction or form of genocide?
A massive contagion crisis
Like the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., the coronavirus contagion crisis is so massive in scale that it endangers the way in which the world functions, the way our leaders govern us.
The restrictions that we are confronting today for ultimate peace are unparalleled in nature. But, while global citizens are enthusiastic to sacrifice civil liberties provisionally, isn't history proof that emergency situations are difficult to get out of, powers difficult to relinquish?
What are the possible next steps? Democratic states should act responsibly and share knowledge transparently with citizens. When you share knowledge, possible outcomes of challenges are achieved, solutions are attained more rapidly. Then again, such openness and candidness to promote confidence among citizens demands courage. Do our political netas and leaders possess such valor?
Now is not a time to display enmity. There is just one enemy the entire world is battling, and countries need to mobilize workforces and work in tandem to contain, slow and terminate the onslaught of the deadly disease.
If not, the social, economic, physiological, psychological implications will be so enormous, mankind may cease to exist as we know it. It is crucial to address the socio-economic impact of this crisis and focus on protecting vulnerable communities in the most affected areas.
Efforts must be made to understand the effects of the virus at the household level as well as on small and medium enterprises that constitute the backbone of many local economies, to gauge the extent to which the epidemic is affecting the ability of families and people to support themselves.
If man has still not learnt his lesson, I don't know how he will? Is he waiting for the near extinction of mankind, for a new race, a new species to be born to understand the ramifications of the current epidemic?
How mad has man become to breaking bad with nature? And the looming question is who is Guilty?
May be Netflix knows the answers.
[Somdutta Singh is an entrepreneur and former vice-chairperson of NASSCOM Product Council. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of International Business Times, India]