We are NOT Prepared for a Super Pandemic and Coronavirus Proves it

The coronavirus has been a rude awakening for countries across the world. It’s already claimed thousands of lives and medical experts have barely had time to react. While they scramble to find a cure, thousands more will be affected. It shows a staggering lack of preparation—something many scientists have previously warned about.

The increasing death toll proves that governments weren’t prepared to battle a growing pandemic. Widespread panic is not a good sign. It goes to show that we’re just not as prepared as we should be, and that the next super pandemic could be catastrophic.

Epidemic vs. pandemic: scale can be scary

Don’t get these two words mixed up! They have very different meanings when it comes to whether or not a contagion is likely to affect you.

An epidemic means the outbreak is ailing more people than expected. For an illness to be considered an epidemic, the number of cases would be disproportionately large compared to the population. It’s normal for thousands of people to contract the flu every year. But when schools and facilities are shut down due to low attendance, that flu has reached epidemic status.

Pandemics take sickness to the next level. You might’ve heard a pandemic referred to as a “worldwide epidemic.” That’s because a pandemic occurs when the virus crosses borders. Now, something once contained within a single country has spread worldwide. Countries only need to record a handful of cases in order for an epidemic to qualify as a pandemic.

Coronavirus is a pandemic

You might be wondering how the coronavirus began and what allowed it to spread so quickly. The disease first showed up in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei province of China. Cases were reported on the eve of the new decade, but medical experts didn’t recognize this new virus.

On January 9th, things got serious when China reported their first coronavirus-related death. The man died after purchasing food from Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. It turns out that multiple people infected with the coronavirus worked at the market.

From there, it escalated quickly

The first case outside of China was reported on January 13th in Thailand. This event officially marked the coronavirus as a pandemic, but the worst was yet to come.

Within China, people were dying overnight. The death toll on January 24th was 26, but two days later, it had jumped to 56. Going into February, deaths grew exponentially. On the 7th, 636 people total were reported dead. By the next day, that number rose to 722.

Coronavirus-related deaths grew at an alarming rate, making it an epidemic within China. As of writing, cases have been reported in 28 countries and the death toll is over 2,400 worldwide. It’s a pandemic that’s truly a worldwide epidemic.

We’re not prepared for major outbreaks

Previous pandemics left us feeling caught off-guard. Viruses like SARS in 2002 and the swine flu in 2009 proved our governments will be surprised every time there’s a deadly outbreak. But why is that?

Hospitals don’t have the medicine or manpower necessary to defeat pandemics like the coronavirus. As the number of cases goes up, hospitals will be short-staffed and won’t have the resources in stock to take care of patients. To make matters worse, travel restrictions prevent suppliers in China from shipping treatments to other countries.

It will be years before our governments can mass distribute a vaccine against the coronavirus. Except, we don’t have years to wait. Dozens of people are already dying overnight in China, and travel restrictions can only delay the inevitable. It proves governments need to dedicate more funds toward vaccine research. Medical experts shouldn’t wait until thousands of lives are in danger to take action.

We have emergency plans for natural disaster and war… why not for pandemics?

What happens when a super pandemic comes?

With every pandemic that’s swept the world, governments still have not learned their lesson. The coronavirus is yet another wakeup call needed to ensure we’re better equipped in the future. Moving forward, we must be prepared for the next pandemic. If not, it could affect millions of lives.

War is not the only threat to national security. Countries must take pandemics just as seriously and allot the proper funds to keep their citizens safe. But while national security is important, it’s vital that countries maintain global communication. Tackling a pandemic requires collaborative effort and can instill peace in the process.

Most of the world survived SARS and Ebola. We even made it through the H1N1 virus twice—first in 1918, then again in 2009. But one day, we might be faced with a pandemic even the mightiest countries can’t conquer.

Abhishek Chauhan

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