Let me first say I don’t mean to make light of the coronavirus with this the title of this thread. All of us should be washing our hands for 20+ seconds, staying in if we feel sick, and following the advice of CDC. I also understand that coronavirus has taken lives and I don’t want to minimize the loss of any life.
With that out of the way, something that has been on my mind is how the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) reveals just how woefully underprepared we are both as a nation and as a global community to handle a really serious virus. I’m not saying COVID-19 isn’t serious. It is, but thankfully it doesn’t seem to greatly harm people who are below the age of 60 and don’t have serious preexisting conditions. In some ways that makes this virus more dangerous in that it makes the vast bulk of the population not care about it as much as they should, but on the other hand, it is a fact that most of us will likely get this virus and end up not experiencing serious health consequences as a result. It’s like a variant of the flu/pneumonia only we don’t yet have a vaccine for it.
Once we do get a vaccine for COVID-19, my understanding is we should be fine and long-term, I believe that we will be fine. At least when it comes to this particular virus. It’s not like it’s the first coronavirus that we’ve encountered and it most certainly won’t be the last.
However, what if COVID-19 not only was a major threat to the elderly but also to younger people as well? What if it spread even easier and faster than it does? What if it wasn’t so easily remedied by soap and water? What if it was much more dangerous to an even higher percentage of the population? Would we be able to handle a virus or outbreak of that nature?
So far, it looks like we wouldn’t. That I think is what’s most frightening. One thing I want to compare this to is earthquakes. Out here in the Bay Area, we talk a lot about getting ready for “The Big One.” The 8.0 or greater earthquake that could cause mass amounts of destruction.
We need to also think about getting ready for “The Big One” on a global scale when it comes to the possibility of a mass outbreak of a deadly disease or virus. Going back to an earthquake analogy, it looks to me like the coronavirus is the equivalent of a moderate/strong earthquake. A moderate ranges from 5.0 to 5.9 and a strong earthquake ranges from 6.0-6.9. This feels to be in between those two ranges, so somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5. An earthquake that will do slight damage to buildings and other structures, but may do a lot of damage in very populated areas. Perhaps some of that will be determined by how effectively we respond to it.
But, what could be around the corner is a viral outbreak that’s the equivalent of a major earthquake (7.0-7.9) or a great earthquake (8.0 or more). A major earthquake does “serious damage.” A great earthquake “can totally destroy communities near the epicenter.” What we could be staring down the barrel in the future if we don’t take this outbreak seriously is a viral infection of epic, biblical proportions that can totally destroy communities.
So, if you’re wondering why we should take coronavirus seriously, in my opinion that’s why. We need to view this as a humble reminder that our lives can change in an instant thanks to a virus or a disease. If we take this seriously and do our absolute best to learn from this, we could save who knows how many lives. If we don’t take this seriously, we may end up in a situation that makes this coronavirus nightmare seem like a bad little dream. That is what should be motivating us to nip this in the bud and learn as much as we can.
Finally, I believe staying calm and keeping a level head is the key here. Panicking and freaking out like it’s the end of the world does nobody good. Once again, we need to take this seriously in a cool, calm, and collected way so that we are better prepared for something that is even worse.
We’ll get through COVID-19. This won’t be the virus that kills all of us. The vast bulk of us will be fine. But the possibility of an even more serious outbreak coming along and doing even more damage has to have us on the edge of our seats. It highlights into focus the importance of funding the sciences, medicine, and the very real threat that viruses and diseases have. We need to view this as a trial run and learn as much from this as we can.
Note: Click here to check out the earthquake models I was referencing.