New Deal Needed
The world has been affected by a pandemic with terrible consequences. Millions of people have fallen ill, about 400,000 have died and many of the survivors have a long way back to normal life after the illness. There is increasing unemployment, companies in bankruptcy and gigantic economic losses for individuals, companies and society. And for all of us everyday life has become sad and one-handed without normal human contacts. Few of us have experienced anything like it, none of us want it to ever happen again.
One hundred years ago, the world was hit by the Spanish flue. The pandemic erupted in three waves and between 50 and 100 millions died of a world population of 1.6 billion people. In the hundred years that have passed since then, science and technology have developed tremendously, yet there is now a similar state in the world. We have a community that, despite all scientific advances, has proved extremely vulnerable. Is what is happening just a coincidence, or is it because of something we have done wrong? If so, what mistakes have we made and how can we change our behavior for not ending up in the same situation in say 5-10 years, and then possibly with even more serious consequences?
We do not doubt that politicians and executives are struggling what they can to reduce the acute damage of the corona infection to people and society, but already there should be a vision for how the society after corona should be restructured.
Measures to prevent another similar pandemic
Generally, most infectious diseases originate from wild animals with a domestic animal as intermediate host and are then transmitted to humans. Although more fanciful tales circulate, it is most likely that the COVID-19 pandemic originates from a so called “wet market” in Wuhan, a market where dead and alive, wild and domestic, animals are sold. To 95% probability, bats were the origin animal. The SARS epidemic also originated from animal markets in China. Although the danger in “wet markets” acting as virus incubators have been known for years, nothing has been done to end this vicious activity. They were shut down during the worst infection period in China, but are now reported to be opened again. We, the rest of the World, must now make clear to China and any other country having “wet markets” that this practice has to stop!
It should therefore be imposed 14 days in public quarantine for every traveler coming from such countries, the costs of which to be paid by the traveler. This demand should only be lifted when the country in question has shown that this abominable practice is permanently terminated.
This will limit travels to risk countries, minimize risk of virus to be spread and hopefully act as an effective pressure for “wet markets” to be abolished.
The responsibility for the outburst of COVID-19
In addition to the Chinese regime not taking any measures to eradicate the pandemic´s potential to arise, doctors in Wuhan, who noticed the corona epidemic at an early stage, were silenced by local authorities. In addition to hospital manager Ai Fen, nine other doctors, one of which later died of the decease, were taken in for questioning after disseminating information. Thus both above-mentioned links, the onset of the infection and its early spread, are direct consequences of the Chinese regime’s actions. On the one hand, the regime does not care about basic security regarding animal handling, while on the other hand it shows intolerance against reports that are unpleasant for the regime. In legal terms it should therefore be possible to accuse China of gross negligence and claim compensation for the damage done. In addition to claiming compensation from China for death and suffering there could be billions upon billions of Euros to be claimed of governments, authorities, companies and private persons all over the World for losses caused by the corona pandemic.
The legal base for such claims should, as soon as possible, be investigated of an intergovernmental commission. The EU should take the lead to form this.
The further spread over the World
The Black Death broke out in China in 1334 and slowly spread west through established trade routes. It arrived to Norway in 1349, thus 15 years after the outbreak. For COVID-19 it took just a few months before the whole World was hit. Within China, the situation was exacerbated by the fact that many were traveling due to New Year’s celebrations, and with steadily increasing international air travel, the infection rapidly spread to all continents. The more travelers there are, the less chance to restrict and combat an infectious disease. Now the pandemic has caused a gigantic crisis for airway companies, but it is wrong to give them economic support without having a vision for the future. In addition to being a serious risk factor for spreading deceases, transport of people and goods by air also results in greenhouse gas emissions. In spite of this, air traffic since 1947, when the Chicago Convention came into force, is still granted economic benefits over other means of transportation. The Convention prohibits taxation of aviation fuel. If the airline industry paid as much in environmental taxes and value added tax for their fuel as everybody else, flight prices would be almost twice as high as today. The Convention is outdated and should be replaced by full taxation on aviation fuel as on any other fuel! Such a rise in price will reduce traveling to more manageable levels and specifically reduce long-distance tourist travels.
Climate change, population growth and biodiversity
Recently the Bengal Bay was hit by a terrific hurricane midst of the ongoing pandemic. Most likely the ferocity of the hurricane is a result of the ongoing climate change. This shows an increasing vulnerability of the World. Climate change is generally recognized as a threat, but strangely enough there are few talking of problems caused by increasing population, most of this going on in already vulnerable countries. We see how the ongoing pandemic is hitting extra hard in densely populated areas, especially in countries where people live in poverty. Population increase is also a threat to biodiversity and then further linked to the emergence of dangerous diseases such as HIV, and Ebola. A growing population intrude into the wilderness means higher risk for transfer of infections from the animals living there, increasing hunger will force people to hunt and eat animals they normally avoid.
For decreasing an ongoing stress on the World, the actions against climate change must be hardened and the threats consisting of population increase and biodiversity degradation must be equally recognized and encountered.
Black Lives Matter – Democracy and Human rights
In the midst of a pandemic where hundreds of thousands of people are attacked by a virus that infects their lungs so that they can´t breathe and die, a death occurs that causes people all over the world to protest. The intervention in Minneapolis where George Floyd is choked to death by a policeman! This shows how a deep injustice perpetrated in the past still affects us through prejudice and social injustice. Most African Americans are descendants of Africans who were taken as slaves on the west coast of Africa from the 16th century to the beginning of the 19th century. Theoretically, those involved in this trade should have been aware of the inhumane in this handling, as most people at that time were professing Christians, yet the inhumane handling persisted for several hundred years. The reason, of course, was the huge profitability of the trade. This shows how the desire for money, if allowed, sets aside all moral values.
Unfortunately, the situation is not very different today. Although we in the West confess to democracy and human rights, these values are forgotten when it comes to trade and profit. A private person or company doing business with criminals can be put to justice, however, it is perfectly in order to do business with countries that slaughter a dissident at their consulate or put a million citizens in concentration camps. Supporters of globalization completely disregard such events and advocate free trade without any conditions, although this free trade strengthens the regimes that commit these crimes. In the case of China, there is evidence that criticism is avoided as our dependency already has grown too large.
Let the shock COVID-19 has brought us be a lesson for the future. Life and health, democracy and human rights are more important than money!
It should therefore be imposed significant customs on goods and services from dictatorships.
This will hopefully act as an incentive for dictatorships to be reformed and thus reducing the risk of coming pandemics and for loosing our free and democratic societies.