By James William Mugeni
USA – 5, July 2021: I dedicate this piece to all who have mismanaged the response to this current health crisis, totally oblivious to the fact that pandemic(s) have threatened human existence and civilizations for as long as those living recorded memory of man.
It can only be total ignorance that would drive any man to steal response funds for the pandemic, and it cannot be merely greed but something more that would motivate a man to hoard vaccines meant to stem the spread of a novel disease.
I intend to outline the course of major pandemics with hope that the horrors which accompanied them will serve to open the eyes of players in this field to quickly know that they could be playing with a fire threatening to consume the whole of humanity.
The history of the world is replete with devastating afflictions which changed the political, social and economic landscapes sometimes forever.
In the realm of infectious diseases, a pandemic is the worst nightmare to befall man. But going by the responses to the Covid-19 from its outbreak, the Ugandan system has shown itself to be, if not deficient, then very unserious about the perils which await man.
How on earth does someone dream of fighting the pandemic by squandering the borrowed resources to buy pickup trucks instead of hospital ambulances to improve the system?
It is simply unthinkable for a system which can’t protect its health workers with adequate PPEs to throw all caution to the wind leading to death of so many Doctors.
If they think what they are dealing with is child’s play, lets delve into the major pandemics which in actual sense pale in comparison to what the human race is faced with at the moment.
The ANTONINE Plague 165 AD.
This pandemic killed 5 million people. In the fluidic systems of the day, the Huns infected the Germans who in turn infected the Romans. This pandemic harvested as one of its victims the Roman Emperor called Marcus Aurelius!
This is quite clear that it can kill big people too. In our world until there is direct peril to the big people, they won’t pay attention. Did I hear this current crisis took the former President of Burundi?
The CYPRIAN Plague 250 AD.
This pandemic is famous for its first known victim, the Christian Bishop of Carthage. Bishop Cyprian of Carthage was claimed by this plague. We recently lost our own Cyprian possibly to other causes but this is a stark reminder that none is safe.
The JUSTINIAN Plague 541-542 AD.
This Bubonic Plague caused by a bacteria called Yersinia Pestis rampaged (through) Europe and in its year-long-reign of terror it consumed about 50million people and beyond! That was half the population of Europe and a quarter the world population.
This pandemic devastated the Byzantine Empire, clearing off more than a quarter of the population of Eastern Mediterranean. It flattened the City of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul, Turkey) by wiping out 40% of its population.
This plague squelched emperor Justinian’s plans and brought the Roman Empire to its knees. There was an apocalyptic atmosphere everywhere.
The BLACK DEATH 1346-1353 AD.
800 years after the Justinian crisis death visited the world again in ways never before witnessed. This scourge was responsible for the deaths of 1/3 of the world’s population by then. It killed about 200 million people. It started in Asia and entered Europe through the Italian Mediterranean Island of Sicily in 1347.
It wrecked such havoc that the authorities lost count of dead bodies and the stench of death became unbearable. England and France were forced to call a truce to the war they were fighting.
The British feudal system collapsed as the plague changed the economic circumstances and the demographics. In Greenland, the Vikings lost their power forever.
The COLOMBIAN exchanges of 1492
As Christopher Colombus and his European explorers moved into the new world they carried along strange diseases like smallpox and the Spanish arrival into the Caribbean’s introduced smallpox, measles and plague.
These diseases decimated 90% of the indigenous inhabitants. By around 1520, what was the indomitable Aztec empire was destroyed by smallpox. This story also ties in into the great plague of London of 1665 which killed 20% of Londoners. In all these catastrophes, we see how ignorance and shier incompetence of the rulers each amplifying the other causes a curse upon a people and a civilization.
The story of smallpox brings to mind human triumph over death. In 12 the thousand years of its brutal existence, smallpox ravaged mankind and it is estimated to have killed upwards of 500 million people. Yet through the benevolence and effort of one man Edward Jenner, this brutal annihilator was subdued.
This also highlights the issue of global pandemic management and vaccination. Had Edward Jenner been motivated by pursuit of profit, smallpox would still be a menace.
Through the magnanimity of Edward Jenner who even vaccinated poor people freely, 200 years after his discovery, WHO was able to declare on May 8, 1980 a world free of smallpox.
World systems should wake up to these realities and vaccinate every man, woman and child if the human species will live together or else, because of blind pursuit of profit men will perish together like flies.
As has been seen through the ages, pandemics have been very devastating and we are merely at the beginning. This is an issue too sensitive to leave to be managed by corrupt systems alone. It is an existential threat upon the entire human race.
The WHO, CDC and other agencies should recruit a global response team. If the lessons from the smallpox and other pandemics are not big enough, we just can’t afford another world disaster of Covid -19 through hording of vaccines.
Those counties which have the capacity to make vaccines should vaccinate the poor, for if they don’t, the poor will act as reservoirs for the virus and will keep reinfection the rich with far more dangerous mutants. Either the world wakes up to this emergence of the moment or the entire humanity will arise after a grand funeral procession into hell.
The delta variant can’t be the last mutant, other strains must be on the way coming. A unified global response is an imperative and not an option.
As a last warning, the world ought to stop a blind ended funding to broke authoritarian regimes who divert funds for their regime survival. Let everyone be alive to this realty.
The writer is a certified public speaker and a clinical officer living in the United States.