Coronavirus outbreak is not the first time a pathogen has emerged and infected human beings. It is not the last time either. Human beings have been fighting and existing with viruses since they first evolved into their modern form. Human societies, systems, norms, and morality have co-evolved with pathogens for a long time.
Pathogens and Homo Sapiens — a Story of Coexistence
The presence of pathogens evokes responses of disgust in human beings — an evolutionary mechanism to avoid danger. For the same reason, the presence of rats, mice, bugs, etc., disgust people. That said, deadly viruses like smallpox, influenza, plague, measles, etc. have evolved among humans, animals, and their detritus.
Nothing in nature exists in isolation. Viruses are helpless and without a living being to make their host, they can’t reproduce and spread. Often, that host may be an animal, and the virus infects only those people who come into contact with a natural reservoir of the disease.
One species maximizes its numbers by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in other species. For instance, ‘domestication’, where one group of organisms have a significant degree of influence over another group and reshape the life histories of other species for their own needs.
Coronavirus is less of an epidemic and more of an infodemic- WHO
The Coronavirus is not a pandemic, at least not yet. It is just like the flu. It is not an equal-opportunity killer either.
Most people who will get the coronavirus will live; they will suffer little to no effect from it. This means thousands of people will unknowingly spread it to others. Only the elderly or very young, or ailing people are susceptible to its effects.
There are over 145,000 cases of COVID19 and over 5,000 deaths have been registered. If we compare, seasonal flu, influenza, it kills 300,000 to 600,000 people worldwide each year. Compared to other health epidemics, the Coronavirus outbreak and its effect are marginal.
Interestingly, panic over a virus with just a 3% mortality rate has led to shutting down of borders and schools, trade slowdown, stock exchange crash, and other quarantine measures. In situations of risks or fear, human beings can be irrational in quite systematic ways. This is a good example of how unconscious bias is activated in situations of potential danger.
Information about potential dangers has high memorability and higher feed-forward potential inside human psychology. Rumors about coronavirus are spreading faster than the virus itself. The ‘moral panic’ is infecting the mind faster than the virus is infecting the bodies.
As coronavirus became a trending topic, people poured out conspiracy theories (a learned behavior to blame someone/something for the havoc). There is a theory of Coronavirus being a bio-weapon engineered by the CIA to wage war on China, to win the trade war once and for all. While another theory says the US government introduced coronavirus to make money from a potential vaccine. Social media is also responsible for spreading misinformation and fear-mongering. All these are mere speculations without any substantial backing of evidence.
Let’s go down the rabbit hole…
COVID-19 is an intelligent pathogen, at least more intelligent than the panicking homo sapiens. This is for two reasons. First, unlike some unintelligent pathogens which kill their hosts, Coronavirus is epidemiologically successful, having a mortality rate of just 3%. Secondly, exploiting the vulnerabilities of human psychology, it is causing havoc and making his ground.
Nature is never in a state of disorder. Every element in nature is in absolute alignment with other elements. Homosapiens behave erratically because their mind (power of infinite imagination) can create different false realities in the perception that are not there in reality. Aligning the perception with actual reality is the goal of homo sapiens as species. It means being able to see the workings of nature in their original form, i.e. “reality as it is”.
Like other pathogens, Coronavirus will also create its space in the ecosystem. Human beings will get immune to this new virus and in times to come, COVID-19 will be just like seasonal influenza.
“What we may be seeing is the emergence of a new coronavirus … that could very well become another seasonal pathogen that causes pneumonia,” said infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota.
Be it pathogens, animals or humans, every component of nature is a whole and also a part of a bigger whole. Every element is complete in itself and has a role in the bigger system. Existence is coexistence with all its individual elements existing interdependently. Life is characterized by togetherness and its underlying essence is oneness (coexistence and interdependence) between all the elements.