Coronavirus Futures: COVID-SARS-2 virus, first wave…second wave…third wave…nth wave. Will we still call the pandemic COVID-19, years after its year of appearance? Or will we declare successive waves as COVID-20, COVID-21, COVID-22 and so on? In spite of misguided rallying cries — ‘all pull together too eliminate this coronavirus’ — it will never be eradicated or eliminated. Like all other known human viruses except one, COVID-SARS-2 will need to be lived with and managed.
Only one prize has been awarded for eliminating a deadly human virus. After more than a century and a half, that honour goes to the tireless, and ultimately successful, efforts to eliminate smallpox. Polio eradication is a second contender, currently stuck at “almost but not quite.”
Every other virus that infects humans has to be managed, not eradicated, whether by devices as simple as a tissue for the several coronavirii called ‘colds’ or as complex as vaccinations against a host of viral diseases that by and large are with us forever.
Humanity’s sole virus eradication success has required an effective smallpox vaccine carried to, and administered at, quite literally the ends of the earth over decades upon decades.
Should there eventually be a vaccination against COVID-SARS-2 (no human coronavirus vaccine has so far ever been created) the anti-vaxxer movement alone will foil eradication efforts undertaken by chasing even to the ends of the community, let alone the ends of the earth.
And so we are left with the human structural and behavioural changes that may need to be used to manage the COVID-SARS-2 coronavirus. One vitally important direction for that management is the shape and behaviour of the community itself.
By the 19th century, there was an increasing awareness that disease, both viral and bacterial, depended not just on the habits of individuals (such as by holding a rose-scented hankie to the nose), but just as or more importantly, upon the behaviour of the community as a whole. Thus, the industrial development of water purification for cities protected all citizens, not just those with scented hankies, from cholera and other waterborne disease.
Throughout the 20th century a growing understanding of the ill-health that spread in and from over-crowding and poor living conditions of urban slums. After World War II ambitious slum eradication programs eliminated this disease-harbouring blight in many countries, often replacing slums with now much-maligned communities of social housing.
Somehow, over the last few decades, countries dedicated to the social and health benefits of slum clearance have begun to fade away from social conscience, and replaced with societies infected with a drive towards the endless accumulation of material wealth.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a brutal wakeup call. A Vancouver, B.C. district today possesses some of the crowding and ill-health characteristics of of a slum. The posties with their strong union is speaking up for themselves, and by extension all those gig-economy delivery workers who lack a collective voice at all.
They are not delivering the mail. And the beleaguered residents are threatened with ejection from the country’s democratic guarantees because of it. The message seems to be that even on the smallest scale COVID-SARS-2 may demand health changes, and by extension housing changes, not only related to the rights of all citizens, but the health of all citizens. Read more in The Tyee: ‘Blatant Discrimination.’ Canada Post Cuts Delivery to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside