CORONA MUSINGS

CORONA MUSINGS

Physics—and even mathematics—finds its limits when it comes to biology. Science is still struggling to unravel the mysteries of nature. Even the so-called life-sciences, leave alone mathematical physics, are grappling with complex systems—like organisms—without much headway. It is all the more true in the case of micro-organisms like viruses. Despite far-reaching the advances in virology, the microbial domain of organisms is full of mysteries.

The world of viruses is full of eternal warfare. They thrive by annihilating and incorporating each other. They precede bacterial life and have no protective cell walls. Still, they have a signaling system, can identify the gene of the alien organism that gives it immunity and knock down that gene and kill the alien and eat up its molecules for its own sustenance. 

Viruses are primordial organisms. The human body is the most developed complex organism. In the saga of evolution, even the most developed organism is vulnerable to some most elementary forms of organisms, like Coronavirus.

Besides taking a huge toll of human beings, Coronavirus has also killed many human assumptions and exaggerated claims. It has dealt a body blow to Ideas like post-humanism. The so called post-humanism is based on the postmodern deconstruction of the ‘human’ (the human experience)—i.e., the transcending of the ‘human’ by the non-human milieu—conditioned by artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and robotics etc. At the risk of some oversimplification, we can say that it signifies a post-industrial and high-tech world entrapping and conditioning normal human existence where the human being becomes a tiny programmed cog in the universalized high-tech order. There are even apprehensions that S&T would control human beings rather humans controlling the S&T. Science and advanced technologies were being perceived as all too powerful, dominating and revolutionizing all aspects of life including healthcare. 

Ironically, the Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in a “post-technology” era, so to say, by a throwback to a pre-technology feel. To a humanity gloating about its own scientific and technological marvels and deluding itself about its immense powers, the pandemic underlined the limits of science. The world of science and technology can be excused for not coming up with a foolproof drug in a year for the assured cure of Corona infection. There may not be a technology yet for total “sanitization” that can give assured protection to life, or banish the virus from the human body and make the virus ineffective or dysfunctional. But worse still, the sad state of affairs is that the hitherto developed science has no clue about the virus or the viral dynamic. 

When Coronavirus would end and how? No scientist is able to predict confidently. If Coronavirus needs a host, why it affects mainly human beings and why not cattle, dogs, cats and birds in as widespread a manner as it gets transmitted among human beings? Why the Covid fatality rate was too low in India earlier and why the death rate is spiking now? Despite similar socio-economic conditions, why the incidence vastly varies among districts, leave alone states? Why are there repeat attacks of Corona in some people? Why a few get Corona even after taking two rounds of vaccination? Why cases are more in states with more developed health infrastructure and less in states with very poor health infrastructure? Why are children relatively less affected? The unanswered questions and Corona mysteries are endless.

Coronavirus has thus shown humanity the limits of its scientific knowledge. Much of these limits of S&T are also defined by capitalism.

Coronavirus has also exposed the limits of global power of the high and mighty. United States remained helpless with the highest toll in the world. Corona has also shredded the ‘strongman’ image of Modi and his clones in Brazil and Turkey. More fundamentally, going beyond individual leaders and governments, the entire global establishment has failed to squarely meet the challenge—call it failure or inability, ignorance or incompetence, lack of preparedness or deficiency. In other words, capitalism has miserably failed. The quadrillions of the global capital are in a quandary. It is a systemic failure without any alternative, or even a hazy idea of an alternative solution. 

Even as capitalism fails before Corona, it thrives upon the same. Radical authors like Naomi Klein came up with an interpretation that capitalism thrives on disaster—natural or social—and called it ‘disaster capitalism’. That is also on display now. The billions of Mukesh Ambani and his ilk went up in the Corona year of 2020. Even going beyond capitalism, one gets dark ideas in a dystopian vein as to whether humanity could only just drift until an Apocalypse of sorts. There is this new individualism which reigns supreme when the ‘society’ or community becomes irrelevant or even perceived as a threat.

Of course, capitalism too is a killer, even in normal times. During pandemic, it is a conjoined killer, waltzing with the virus. Even if the hapless human being survives the Coronavirus, he/she might die due to hunger or unemployment. Some researchers have estimated 147 million job-losses across the world due to the pandemic and 47 million among them in India. According to UN, before the pandemic, 25,000 people—including 10,000 children—died per day due to hunger and related causes. And FAO says acute hunger in the world would double due to the pandemic. World recorded above 12,000 Covid deaths per day over the last week of May and one-fourth of it in India. At least, double that number would die due to Corona-induced hunger.

About 3000 people lost their lives in 9/11 attack and the US spent $6.4 trillion in the wars it launched in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere after that as part of the ‘War on Terror’. Harvard researchers have estimated the total cost of Corona to the USA would be $16 trillion.

About one million people died due to Iraq and Afghan wars alone. 3.5 million have died due to Corona. 

It is not that Corona is three times deadlier than capitalism. Capitalism is responsible for Corona deaths too. If Corona could have been contained within a couple of months—which experts say was within the realm of the possible—or in a society where healthcare is the foremost priority,—around 90% of the Corona deaths could have been prevented. The moral of the story is that the capitalism cares two hoots for human lives—be it war or disaster management.

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed within this article are the personal opinion of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of 1stnewz and 1stnewz does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.


News Author:

  1. B.Sivaraman B.Sivaraman says:

    B. Sivaraman is a journalist and has been writing on economy, labour issues and political events. He is based in Allahabad.