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Humankind and the numerous unseen enemies

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The current scourge of CoronaVirus Disease 2019, popularly known as COVID-19 in every part of the globe since its outbreak in Wuhan region of China in 2019, has once again shown how vulnerable humankind is in this planet. Humankind, because of his endowed superior intelligence, arrogantly believes that it is more equipped to thwart any threat to its existence and dominance of the planet from other creatures inhabiting the planet with it. The present unmitigated virulence of COVID-19 has shown without any iota of doubt that humankind is deluding itself on this erroneous belief.

This Corona Virus which cannot be seen with human naked eyes has up till now afflicted more than one million people with more than 65000 death world wide. In fact, President  Donald Trump of the United States of America told his people  that between 100000 and 200000 Americans would die as a result of the affliction by this virus. In Nigeria, at the time of writing this article, 232 Nigerians have reported to have been afflicted with this disease. One can only pray that our situation will not degenerate further to the level of affliction being witnessed in Europe and USA because our health facilities would not be able to cope with large scale affliction of our people by this virus.

The vulnerability of humankind in this planet was recently highlighted in a post by an Indian Guru on the social media. In the post, the Guru debunked the idea that humankind is the most superior creature in the planet. According to him, if humankind disappears from the planet today, the planet will go on as if nothing has happened, but if lower creatures like bees or some innocuous maggots disappear from the face of the planet, the planet would disappear within three months because of the important role they play in the rejuvenation of the planet.

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From the struggle to get its daily bread, to afflictions by debilitating plagues caused by myriads of creatures seen or unseen, humankind has always found the environment in the planet to be hostile to its existence  since inception. To those with religious bent, this is as a result of our ancestors (Adam and Eve) being thrown out of the Garden of Eden where everything was perfect. Plagues had always afflicted mankind since creation and we read in the Bible how God sent 10 plagues to Egypt as Pharaoh refused to let people of Israel to leave. (Exodus chapters 7-9). The bubonic plague of 1346 -1357 consumed 75-200million people, and in this modern world humankind has been afflicted by numerous plagues and record shows that cholera, small pox and influenza are some of the most brutal killers in human history. Smallpox is reported to have killed between 300 – 500 million people in more than 10000 years of its existence and recently HIV /AIDS consumed 36 million people between 2005 -2015.

COVID-19 which is a respiratory disease that causes fever, tiredness and dry cough is the latest in the series of viruses that had made life unbearable to humankind in this planet. Different strains of virus have been implicated in afflicting humankind with debilitating diseases such as smallpox, influenza, polio, and Lassa fever. Another diseases causing foe of humankind is some groups of bacteria that cause diseases such as tuberculosis and typhoid. Tuberculosis is known to kill an average of two million people every year. There are also afflictions caused by insects and parasites and these creatures cause human diseases like malaria which is a scourge in the tropics, river blindness. Guinea worm (Dracuncularis) and filariasis (round worm). There are other numerous microorganisms afflicting humankind in this planet.

Since creation, it has been unending battle between humankind and these unseen enemies in order to prevent these debilitating organisms from sending it into extinction. However, humankind has used its superior intelligence and well endowed brain to combat these microscopic and unseen enemies through the manufacture of vaccines and drugs developed by brilliant scientists. The scourge of the diseases had been minimized through the work of these scientists. For example, Sir Alexander Flemming, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain discovered penicillin, the bacteria killer which since the forties had been used in the control of human diseases such as scarlet fever, typhoid, pneumonia, meningitis, diphtheria and gonorrhea. For this discovery, the trio were given Nobel Prize in Medicine and physiology in 1945. Other antibiotics like penicillin had also been produced to combat some dreadful diseases of humankind.  Also, the scourge of polio was put at bay with the discovery of the first polio vaccine in 1955 by Jonas Salk, an American Physician. Other debilitating diseases confronting humankind have been checkmated through potent vaccines and drugs. However, the current COVID -19 caught humanity unprepared.

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There is no known vaccine or drug to combat it yet and according to experts none is expected for the next eighteen months although Scientists are burning the midnight oil to produce one as soon as possible. However, President Trump of USA has been pushing the use of Chloroquine, the anti malaria drug to combat the virus although many medical experts are skeptical about the efficacy of this drug for this purpose. The only way recommended to prevent the spread of the virus is through social distancing and use of facemasks. Many towns and cities all over the world are under lockdown with attendant dislocations of socio-economic lives of the people. Nothing like these present desolate situations in major cities of the world even occurred during the two gory world wars. It is sobering that humanity is in this situation because of the attack of an unseen microscopic organism. The cost of this scourge COVID-19 to humanity is incalculable and the world and the way we live and interact with one another will never be the same again after the pandemic.

The lesson that this pandemic has taught humanity is that the existential threat to humankind is not likely to come from the horrendous arrays of armaments amassed by large and small countries for their security, but from one of these unseen microscopic organisms. COVID -19 has been described by President Emmanuel Macron of France as an invisible enemy which is more dangerous than the visible one. In Africa, especially in our country, Nigeria, our political leaders should learn one or two sobering lessons from this pandemic. For years, our leaders have not given enough resources for the improvement of our health facilities just because they have opportunities with tax payers money to hop to foreign countries to have medical attention when they are sick. They leave the bulk of their unfortunate countrymen whom they are supposed to serve wallowing in dilapidated hospitals with prehistoric facilities.
Lucas wrote from Old Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State.

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Now that there is no opportunity to go outside the country to treat affliction of COVID -19, those of them who are afflicted by this virus are forced to use the facilities they have run down in our so-called hospitals through their unpatriotic negligence. Everybody seems to be in the same boat medically with regard to this outbreak.

COVID-19 is a leveler, it afflicts the potentates of the land in their fortified mansions as well as the poor of the poor in their squalor. It does not spare the politically powerful as it has been shown with the situation with Boris Johnson, the powerful British Prime Minister who is now undergoing intensive treatment in a famous hospital in London. Unlike our politicians, he is not itching to go outside his country for treatment because over the years, the politicians in Britain had turned their country’s National Health service (NHS) into one of the best, if not the best in the world. What is happening in our health sector is similar to the deplorable situation in our educational sector where our universities have been turned to glorified secondary school through massive underfunding and unbridled interference in the university system.

The politicians get away with this sickening situation in our universities because they have the means to send their children overseas for good university education which they have failed to establish at home, despite the fact that the country has the means to have first class education for its citizenry. Facilities in in the secondary and primary levels in our educational sectors are equally deplorable. With the present situation in the world today, our leaders should remember that charity begins at home and they should learn from the maxim of Cicero’s De Legibus that ‘ the welfare of the people is supreme law’ and this welfare includes health and education of the people.
Lucas wrote from Old Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State.

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