The Key to Ending The Pandemic Has Always Been Known to Us, Yet We Chose to Ignore It.
Save the science for later. The way we approach this problem has been wrong since the very beginning.
No, I am not talking about a certain drug nor a vaccine. This universal cure is not one to be discovered, but one to be reminded — especially when the world is thrown into chaos now.
By now, I believe that the majority of us have been fed up with all the bizarre regulations, the deaths, and other upsetting news circulating in the media about COVID-19. We simply do not know what is wrong, what is right, and what is unproven anymore. We are so lost in a jungle of conflicting information and opinions that we can no longer tell how our governments are responding to the pandemic.
Every improvement made is almost always followed by a new, emerging problem. Are we going in the right direction? Do the current policies benefit the people? Most importantly, are we still fighting, or have we given up? Experts are helping us understand the disease and its implications better, but some information appears to be delivered in a way that favors some groups rather than the global community.
It has previously been exposed that some key information was withheld from the public. When knowledge (or absence of it) is used to advance personal agendas instead of addressing a collective problem, we’re pretty much doomed.
The success of COVID-19 as well as previous respiratory pandemics can be attributed to their power in forcing people apart. We are social beings, and as much as some hate to admit it, we need other people. This applies to everyone regardless of whether you’re a farmer, a cab driver, or a business mogul.
All major systems such as healthcare, education, and workforce are based on the principle that humans connect with and benefit from one another.
Even countries would not exist were it not for human interaction. When social relationships are severed, all hell breaks loose. Therefore, it is only logical that we fight a disease that tries to set us apart by acting together. We need to remember that only measures which protect everyone will effectively control this pandemic.
In practice, however, the tension between countries has never been this high since World War II. “Global cooperation” is a thing of the past; right now, the better term would be “global competition”.
The media has hailed efforts to speed up COVID-19 vaccine development as “race against time” when in reality countries are really racing against one another. Recently, countries are accusing one another of stealing important research data related to vaccine development.
The question is, why should coronavirus vaccine data be kept secret in the first place? Aren’t we all facing the same kind of pandemic? If health is for all, why do our research efforts not mirror this value? On the other hand, most countries are willing to exchange research data and even set up multinational studies to find novel chemotherapeutic regimens for cancer.
Why can countries collaborate on cancer research but not on COVID-19 research? As long as we fail to realize the importance of coming together, drugs and vaccines will only be available for some but not everyone. At this rate, the term “universal health care” should be changed into “discriminative health care”.
Not only does conflict arise between countries, but it also causes havoc within a country’s own borders — all because some people prefer to fight each other rather than fight together. Take, for example, the situation in my country Indonesia.
The public has no patience left with the government, and an alarmingly increasing number of people would rather believe in conspiracy theories rather than scientific data. Instead of working together towards a common goal, the general public resorts to radical measures: verbally abusing healthcare workers, dissing each other on social media, and glorifying anarchism.
Suddenly, everyone acts as if they know everything about COVID-19 and hates it when other people disagree with them. When false information is spun into reality and reality spun into false information, a scientifically proven cure may even be seen as a mind-controlling device.
Some may argue that spreading false information or theories is condoned by freedom of expression, but I have to disagree. When we say something, we must be ready to be held accountable for its consequences.
Yet, too many times I have seen people throwing wild accusations and misleading information on social media. When they are asked to provide proof but unable to come up with one, they try to get away by offering a scripted apology instead.
The only proven way to end this global pandemic is by promoting solidarity and acting together in a harmonious way. Smallpox, once a highly feared disease that existed for 3,000 years, was successfully eradicated thanks to a global vaccination program headed by the World Health Organization.
Now do your part: challenge people who irresponsibly spread false information, support scientists in their endeavors, help repair the relationship between government and general public, and remind people of the importance of fighting the threat together.
Your mask protects me, and my mask protects you. And this statement, I think, perfectly captures what it means to be humans — a social being who needs each other. We are in this together.