Questions in a Time of Deathly Seriousness.

Holbein’s Physician

The Covid-19 virus spreads. It can perhaps only be seen as nature’s attack on humanity. This has happened before with plague, cholera, diphtheria, and poliomyelitis. Now the time has come to see what coronavirus, Covid-19 can do.

In between, there have been other strange attempts at wiping out humankind, like Ebola, mad cow disease, bird flu, H1N1 Swine flu, and the pre-Covid-19 viruses like SARS and MERS.

The force with which nature attacks is nothing less than astounding. Will nature succeed this time? If the virus continues to mutate so quickly and so often as it has done so far – we may not have much of a chance. Maybe the only hope is to build natural immunity. What do I know, not being a health worker or a virus researcher? Is it possible that we face a global killer?

Supposedly, there are too many who survive the current strains. On the other hand, it seems that the deaths come in bouts. Looking at the statistics, it takes a long time to recover. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones that hardly notice that you have been infected.

Is it possible that we humans are our own worst enemy? Could it be that humankind’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases? If so, what are we coming to?

It appears that a new discipline, planetary health, recently emerged. It focuses on the increasingly visible connections between the wellbeing of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems. Food for thought. What can we learn from the past – and how can we prevent a global killer? There are no easy answers. It’s a funny sobriquet though. We call it a global killer although it kills people. Maybe the rest of nature’s wonders, from trees to flowers, and animals of all sorts are better off without human beings. Who knows, once the worst menace (read civilisation) is gone, the world will recover and return to a pre-historic balance? After all, we humans have done a lot to reduce natural diversity.

Should the world recover, we may even have a chance to come back, better equipped to live and – let live.

Gustav Klimt, Death and Life

© HMH, 2020







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