COVID-19 pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The pandemic shutdown has shown us the problem. It has revealed what the world looks like without as much pollution, without the chaos and roar of mostly meaningless "work" performed by the exploited, using materials stolen from the abused, for the benefit of the pampered and oblivious. Another world is possible, and we've just gotten a glimpse of it. ~Lee Camp
This could be the moment when we begin to see ourselves, once more, as governed by biology and physics, and dependent on a habitable planet. Never again should we listen to the liars and the deniers. Never again should we allow a comforting falsehood to trounce a painful truth. No longer can we afford to be dominated by those who put money ahead of life. ~George Monbiot

Quotes[edit]

  • و وباء #كورونا يجتاح العالم مهددا للبشريةندعو مجلس الأمن والأمين العام للأمم المتحدة انتونيو غوتيرش @antoniojuterres
    لايقاف القوى المعتدية عن عدوانها على الشعب اليمني وفك الحصار عليه
    فالوباء ينتشر بكافة أنحاء العالم ويجب أن تنعم شعوب العالم بالسلام وتتمكن من مكافحة الوباء الخطير
  • Ironically, while the virus is hidden and invisible, it acts to make dramatically visible numerous crises and problems in nations such as the US. Better than any Marxist theory of crisis, the virus showed that the world capitalist system is extremely fragile and built on a house of cards that can be toppled by an ill-wind. More so than depressions, world wars, or terrorist attacks, COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill. It exposed the mighty US Empire as a third-rate power and a failed state in its inconceivably feeble response to the pandemic and the plight of its citizens. It revealed Emperor Trump to be without clothes — not only grossly incompetent as a leader, but a truly dangerous sociopath indifferent to the suffering he causes. Trump not only presides over the greatest health crisis in a century, he is a health hazard, a danger to public safety. The new pandemic laid bare our debilitating dependence on China for drugs and medical supplies. Moreover, the virus shed a blinding light on the already clear racial and class inequalities in the US, for the poor and people of color have the least resources, the worst access to healthy food and health care, and are the most vulnerable. As well, COVID-19 laid bare the nihilistic logic of capitalism, when anxious elites insisted that the elderly, the vulnerable, and "essential workers" will have to be sacrificed for the greater good of the economy and revivification of the sacred "American Way of Life." Just as surely, the virus put on display the supremacy of politics over science, ideology over facts, and personal ambition over public health. The respect for and preeminence of science has never been lower in this country. Perhaps most of all, the virus pulled back the curtain on how radically unprepared the world is for crises, especially the much larger planetary crisis already unfolding. It surely is a vivid reminder of our dysfunctional relationship with nature, and a warning to be heeded.
  • Like humans, pathogens do not respect species boundaries. Overall, nearly eight billion people, many with advanced technologies and rapacious appetites, are tearing ecosystems apart and within these ecosystems live millions of different kinds of viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. As Sonia Shah observes in her book Pandemic, society operates with an erroneous paradigm of disease, treating diseases as foreign invaders into our territory (a mentality she describes as “microbial xenophobia”), when in fact we are the invading species encroaching on the habitat and communities of animals and ecosystems. It is wrong to say that these diseases are happening to us, rather they are the unintended results of what we are doing to the natural world. Speculations about accidental laboratory origins of outbreaks and COVID-19 conspiracy plots of bioterrorism draw attention away from actual systemic structures and dynamics of human exploitation of nature, especially as driven by the growth-addicted world system of capitalism. Hardly unexpected or accidental, viral outbreaks are the inevitable consequences of human growth and expansion. All too often, we are the causes, not effects, the culprits, not victims, of pandemic-inducing pathogens.
  • When the UN security council and the G7 group sought to agree a global response to the coronavirus pandemic, the efforts stumbled on the US insistence on describing the threat as distinctively Chinese... the focus on labelling the virus Chinese and blaming China pursued by the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, helped ensure there would be no meaningful collective response from the world's most powerful nations...
    For some US allies, the fixation on words at a time when the international order was arguably facing its greatest challenge since the second world war encapsulated the glaring absence of US leadership. And that absence was illustrated just as vividly by news coverage of planes full of medical supplies from China arriving in Italy, at a time when the US was quietly flying in half a million Italian-made diagnostic swabs for use in its own under-equipped health system and Donald Trump was on the phone to the South Korean president pressing him to send test kits.
  • This pandemic is not just a crisis, it's also a gift. It allows us the oxygen to notice the things we've been ignoring were the truly essential:
    – Learning and creating
    – Enjoying clean water, clean air, clean food, and making sure every human has that right
    – Forming a world that will last longer than an NFL season
    – Spending a lot of time with your beautiful family (or a little time with an unsightly one)
    Point is — the stuff that truly matters is the stuff we were completely ignoring, blithely pushing it to the back of our minds as our planet is eaten for corporate profit. But now, during "life on hold" the natural world reclaims spaces. Beaches around the globe teem with millions of birds and wildlife, no longer flooded by undulating masses of fleshy apes with our frisbees, and snorkels, and beer coolers and entitlement.
  • Like cancer, capitalism grows until it murders the host body. During this pandemic shutdown, it's not getting the growth it needs and parts of it are becoming benign... For years...we've been lost in the frenetic pace of lives based on non-events, never pausing to reassess or recess. The spastic motion of avoidance filled the ether — afraid if we stop to truly think about it, we may find our scant few years of consciousness are pissed away as slaves at often meaningless jobs. They, the pustulant corporate owners, suck away our lives... And now, with life on holiday, we see almost none of it was essential... As our planet disintegrates under the weight of consumption and greed, most people are trapped in extreme poverty. And that's how the system of capitalism is designed. Slightly altering capitalism will not change this reality... If we take away the false promises of capitalism and just say to people, "Private luxury is only for a few humans. You will never have it and won't even have the chance at getting it" – if we admit that – then the entire justification for capitalism evaporates... The pandemic shutdown has shown us the problem. It has revealed what the world looks like without as much pollution, without the chaos and roar of mostly meaningless "work" performed by the exploited, using materials stolen from the abused, for the benefit of the pampered and oblivious. Another world is possible, and we've just gotten a glimpse of it.
  • The most commonly reported mainstream media account of the creation of the Coronavirus suggests that it was derived from an animal borne microorganism... But there appears to be some evidence to dispute that... Because of that and other factors, there has also been considerable speculation that the Coronavirus did not occur naturally through mutation but rather was produced in a laboratory, possibly as a biological warfare agent.
    Several reports suggest that there are components of the virus that are related to HIV that could not have occurred naturally. If it is correct that the virus had either been developed or even produced to be weaponized it would further suggest that its escape from the Wuhan Institute of Virology Lab and into the animal and human population could have been accidental. Technicians who work in such environments are aware that "leaks" from laboratories occur frequently.
  • There is, of course and inevitably, another theory. There has been some speculation that as the Trump Administration has been constantly raising the issue of growing Chinese global competitiveness as a direct threat to American national security and economic dominance, it must might be possible that Washington has created and unleashed the virus in a bid to bring Beijing's growing economy and military might down a few notches. It is, to be sure, hard to believe that even the Trump White House would do something so reckless, but there are precedents for that type of behavior.
  • Those of us now in isolation, in spite of our fear and frustrations, in spite of our grief ⁠— for those who have died or may die, for the life we once lived, for the future we once hoped for ⁠— there is also a sense we are cocooned, transforming, waiting, dreaming. True: Terrors stalk the global landscape, notably the way the virus ⁠— or our countermeasures ⁠— will endanger those among us whom we, as a society, have already abandoned or devalued. So many of us are already disposable. So many of us are only learning it now, too late. Then there is the dangerous blurring of the line between humanitarian and authoritarian measures. There is the geopolitical weaponization of the pandemic. But when the Spring comes, as it must, when we emerge from hibernation, it might be a time of profound global struggle against both the drive to "return to normal" ⁠— the same normal that set the stage for this tragedy ⁠— and the "new normal" which might be even worse. Let us prepare as best we can, for we have a world to win.
  • After months of chaos, isolation and fear, the desire to return to normal, even if normal is an abusive system, may be extremely strong. The stage is set for this desire to be accompanied by a frantic revanchism. Will we want someone to blame, especially those of us who lose loved ones? Must there be blood, figurative or literal?: a baptism by fire so that the old order ⁠— which, of course, created the conditions of austerity and inequality that made this plague so devastating⁠ — can be reborn in purified form. Of course, things will never be "normal" again: some of us, the privileged and wealthy, may be afforded the illusion, but this illusion is likely to be carried on the backs of the vast majority who will work harder, longer and for less, suffer greater risks and fewer rewards. The debts of the pandemic, literal and figurative, will have to be repaid. On the other hand ⁠— or maybe at the same time ⁠— we can also expect that, among the powerful and among the rest of us, there will be calls to reject the "return to normal," but in order to embrace something even worse. It is likely that the chaos and deaths of the pandemic will be blamed on too much democracy, liberalism and empathy. Now that states are flexing their muscles and taking full command of society, there will be many who do not want the sleeve to be rolled back down. We may yet see, in this crisis, the use of repressive force on civilians ⁠— as it is already being used on migrants and incarcerated people ⁠— and I fear that it will be seen by many as justified, a human sacrifice to feed the Gods of fear. In the wake of the pandemic we can be sure that fascists and reactionaries will seek to mobilize tropes of ⁠— racial, national, economic ⁠— purity, purification, parasitism, and pollution to impose their long-festering dreams on reality.
  • Against all these fateful outcomes there will be those among us who refuse to return to normal, or to embrace the "new normal," those of us who know that "the trouble with normal is it only gets worse." Already, in the state of emergency that the crisis has unleashed, we are seeing extraordinary measures emerge that reveal that much of the neoliberal regime's claims to necessity and austerity were transparent lies. The God-like market has fallen, again. In different places a variety of measures are being introduced that would have been unimaginable even weeks ago. These have included the suspension of rents and mortgages, the free provision of public transit, the deployment of basic incomes, a hiatus in debt payments, the commandeering of privatized hospitals and other once-public infrastructure for the public good, the liberation of incarcerated people, and governments compelling private industries to reorient production to common needs. We hear news of significant numbers of people refusing to work, taking wildcat labor action, and demanding their right to live in radical ways. In some places, the underhoused are seizing vacant homes. We are discovering, against the upside-down capitalist value paradigm which has enriched the few at the expense of the many, whose labor is truly valuable: care, service, and frontline public sector workers. There has been a proliferation of grassroots radical demands for policies of care and solidarity not only as emergency measures, but in perpetuity.
  • Meanwhile, the quarantined and semi-isolated are discovering, using digital tools, new ways to mobilize to provide care and mutual aid to those in our communities in need. We are slowly recovering our lost powers of life in common, hidden in plain sight, our secret inheritance. We are learning again to become a cooperative species, shedding the claustrophobic skin of homo oeconomicus. In the suspension of a capitalist order of competition, distrust and endless, pointless hustle, our ingenuity and compassion are resurfacing like the birds to the smog-free sky. When the Spring arrives, the struggle will be to preserve, enhance, network and organize this ingenuity and compassion to demand no return to normal and no new normal. [...] We have learned how to bring a capitalist economy to its knees through non-violent protest in the face of overwhelming, technologically augmented oppression. We are learning how to become ungovernable by either states or markets. Equally important, we have learned new ways to care for one another without waiting for the state or for authorities. We are rediscovering the power of mutual aid and solidarity. We are learning how to communicate and cooperate anew. We have learned how to organize and to respond quickly, how to make collective decisions and to take responsibility for our fate. Like the heroes of all good epics, we are not ready, our training was not completed, yet fate will not wait. Like all true heroes, we must make do with what we have: one another and nothing else. As the world closes its eyes for this strange, dreamlike quarantine ⁠— save of course for those frontline health, service and care workers who, in the service of humanity, cannot rest, or those who have no safe place to dream ⁠— we must make ready for the waking. We are on the cusp of a great refusal of a return to normal and of a new normal, a vengeful normalcy that brought us this catastrophe and that will only lead to more catastrophe. In the weeks to come, it will be time to mourn and to dream, to prepare, to learn, and to connect as best we can. When the isolation is over, we will awaken to a world where competing regimes of vindictive normalization will be at war with one another, a time of profound danger and opportunity. It will be a time to rise and to look one another in the eye.
  • Yet, while we rightly point to the lack of ICU beds, ventilators, and trained medical staff across many Western states, we must recognize that the situation in most of the rest of the world is immeasurably worse. Malawi, for example, has about 25 ICU beds for a population of 17 million people. There are less than 2.8 critical care beds per 100,000 people on average across South Asia, with Bangladesh possessing around 1,100 such beds for a population of over 157 million (0.7 critical care beds per 100,000 people). In comparison, the shocking pictures coming out of Italy are occurring in an advanced health care system with an average 12.5 ICU beds per 100,000 (and the ability to bring more online). The situation is so serious that many poorer countries do not even have information on ICU availability. [...] Of course, the question of ICU and hospital capacity is one part of a much larger set of issues including a widespread lack of basic resources (e.g., clean water, food, and electricity), adequate access to primary medical care, and the presence of other comorbidities (such as high rates of HIV and tuberculosis). Taken as a whole, all of these factors will undoubtedly mean a vastly higher prevalence of critically ill patients (and hence overall fatalities) across poorer countries as a result of COVID-19.
  • Vladimir Putin's government has also been accused of downplaying the severity of the outbreak. Officially, there have been 2,337 cases in Russia—very low by international standards—but low testing rates make it hard to know for sure. Critics suggest that a suspiciously nationwide uptick in pneumonia cases in recent weeks actually consists of undiagnosed COVID-19 cases. Aggressive measures put in place to punish the spread of "false" information on the outbreak online may also be preventing media outlets from publishing accurate information. After moving much more slowly than other governments to order lockdowns and social distancing measures, Russia is finally implementing new rules as the number of cases has grown rapidly in recent days. Putin, who was highly visible while touting the government's efforts to contain the disease's spread early on, was conspicuously absent when it was time to deliver the bad news. The impending crisis has not stopped Russia's government from scoring a propaganda coup by shipping medical supplies to other countries—including the U.S.
  • This coronavirus, they're just — all of this panic is just not warranted. This, I'm telling you, when I tell you — when I've told you that this virus is the common cold. When I said that, it was based on the number of cases. It's also based on the kind of virus this is.
  • Three years ago, experts were saying that bat coronaviruses could become a new pandemic. Almost two months ago, experts were saying that the new virus in Wuhan was potentially a global threat. One month ago, experts were saying that it was likely to be pandemic, and the White House's response was that this was under control, despite the fact that the US's testing was demonstrably giving a false picture of the extent of infection. This was foreseeable, and foreseen, weeks and months ago, and only now is the White House coming out of denial and heading straight into saying it could not have been foreseen.
  • Governments around the world say they’re engaged in a war against the coronavirus. [...] This kill-or-die idiom is more than casual rhetorical overkill. Many governments are symbolically but very deliberately calling, in this time of fear and uncertainty, for general conscription along military lines. This is so they can, while pointing to an insidious foreign enemy, aim their firepower against some of the most valuable institutions of domestic public life. They have been very successful so far. [...] In addition to economic and military mobilization, wartime measures typically encourage a high degree of political, social and intellectual conformity. The general idea is that, in the face of an existential challenge from a vicious enemy, criticism of the government ought to cease. The media tends to become more patriotic, as do former political partisans. Such was the case in the United States during the early stages of its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, when most journalists and even Democratic politicians rallied around the Republican George W. Bush administration. The trouble is that the "war" against Covid-19 is actually not a war at all. And no one should feel obliged to sign up for it. The loss of, and separation from, loved ones, and the fear and anxiety that is devastating many lives is not an opportunity to fantasize about heroism in battle. The pandemic is, primarily, a global public health emergency; it is made potentially lethal as much by long neglected and underfunded social welfare systems as by a highly contagious virus. A plain description like this is not as stirring as a call to arms — and doesn’t justify the more extreme actions governments have taken against critics during the crisis. It does, however, open up a line of inquiry that journalists ought to pursue, now as well as in the future.
  • During the pandemic, many of us have begun to discover how much of our travel is unnecessary. Governments can build on this to create plans for reducing the need to move, while investing in walking, cycling and – when physical distancing is less necessary – public transport. This means wider pavements, better cycle lanes, buses run for service not profit. They should invest heavily in green energy, and even more heavily in reducing energy demand – through, for example, home insulation and better heating and lighting. The pandemic exposes the need for better neighbourhood design, with less public space given to cars and more to people. It also shows how badly we need the kind of security that a lightly taxed, deregulated economy cannot deliver.
  • And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
    And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
    And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
  • There are two ways this could go. We could, as some people have done, double down on denial. Some of those who have dismissed other threats, such as climate breakdown, also seek to downplay the threat of Covid-19... Or this could be the moment when we begin to see ourselves, once more, as governed by biology and physics, and dependent on a habitable planet. Never again should we listen to the liars and the deniers. Never again should we allow a comforting falsehood to trounce a painful truth. No longer can we afford to be dominated by those who put money ahead of life.
  • If I had to sum it up, I would say sheer madness. It's obscene. It's strictly political, really, an attempt to divert from what we all know has been a gross mismanagement of the prevention phase of this in the United States and the response phase, and it's tragic because the World Health Organization now is moving into a phase where it is going to try to help avert a catastrophe in the developing world. If we think about how difficult it has been for us in the United States with our sophisticated healthcare system to manage this crisis, imagine living in a slum in a developing country or in a refugee camp. And in places like that, the only place you really have to turn for expertise and for financial support is the World Health Organization when governments themselves can't provide the resources. So the timing of this is particularly catastrophic because it is just about to wallop parts of the world in vulnerable communities that really can't handle it. I mean, Trump has a point about aspects of the World Health Organization's response that have been problematic. The problem is his very criticisms are ones that you could levy just as easily at him, overreliance on China, flattery of China, sucking up to China, to put it in an undiplomatic way. I mean, that's something that we saw it characterize the early phase of the U.S. response led by President Trump, and downplaying the crisis until it was too late, missing the month of February, as he did, to get the testing apparatuses in place and put in place the kinds of guidelines that we have now but at the time when it's already spread across the country.
  • The coronavirus pandemic and the environmental crisis share the same roots: humans' success as a species in arrogating global resources for themselves and the consequent ecological disturbance. This is increasing viral exchanges – first from animal to human, then from human to human – on a pandemic scale. Our environmental footprint is too large for the planet, leading to accelerated species extinctions and atmospheric chaos. Both the Covid and climate catastrophes are not misfortunes that befell us. They are part of a pattern of decisions that we humans are taking. We need to make different choices.

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