A pandemic transits the orb (2)

Por: José Antonio Michelena


The pandemic unfeded by The Covid-19 has shocked the world and made it clear that despite all the technological advancement we have come to, nature can charge us dearly for our mistakes, and that globalization is excellent for expanding viruses.

As each nation has charted its strategies, its own crisis management, we have convened a group of intellectuals from diverse countries to put into context, from their respective nations, this current, globalized scourge of humanity.

They are scientists, professors, writers, journalists, communicators, who will leave their voices here to transmit their experiences, information, opinions. By sharing them, they encourage us to feel that protection that knowledge and ideas provide, something we need very much at this hour.

Carlos Uxó
Carlos Uxó


By Carlos Uxó*

In Oceania, it is necessary to distinguish, as in so many other respects, between the situation in Australia and New Zealand and that of other Pacific islands. Australia and New Zealand now have reason for optimism and in both cases the curve appears to have been flattened.

Interestingly – another of the riddles presented to us by the pandemic – they have achieved this by applying different methodologies: the New Zealand government opted for the absolute elimination of transmission (taking all possible measures from the outing hand), while Australia decided on a suppression at various stages, understanding that the fight against coronavirus was, in the words of the epidemiologists themselves , “of a marathon and not of a sprint”.

The relationship of government and citizenship also seems to have been different: while in Australia a perhaps overly hard line has been adopted when it comes to demanding citizen collaboration (with fines of up to a thousand dollars, for concepts such as sitting on a bench on a street eating something freshly purchased, on a street where it would be legal to be walking eating that same snack) , the Prime Minister of New Zealand has shown great common sense and ability to connect with New Zealanders, who were asked to record in detail (and privately) their departures from home, in case they had to verify their proximity or not to the place of a known contagion.

So, while it seems to Australians that the measures are imposed by the government, new Zealand has sought to incorporate the population. Perhaps the damn circumstance of the sea everywhere has helped in both cases, and to this day they present an optimist (at the same time very cautious) panorama, with a degree of infection less than 1. Still, Australia recently announced that it would in all likelihood not resume international flights until the end of the year.

On the other hand, Australia has reduced its efforts to advance research that may offer some help in the exit from the crisis. Both Melbourne University and Monash University, both closed, have kept open laboratories dedicated to Covid-19.

At Monash University, researchers have managed to use ivermectin as an in vitro inhibitor. To make us understand: it has been achieved that, under the controlled conditions of a laboratory, the virus that causes Covid-19 does not develop. It is a big step that now needs more research to test whether it is possible to replicate these results outside a lab and using a dose of medicine that is efficient while not causeing harmful side effects. Very important in this research is that it uses a drug accessible worldwide.

On other Pacific islands, the situation, like its economic reality, is very diverse. The arrival of the Covid-19 so far is very limited, certainly aided by the reduction of international trade and passenger traffic. The very low health capacity on some of these islands, however, is worrying, as the slightest outbreak could have catastrophic results. Perhaps that is why countries like Kiribati have declared a state of emergency despite having no confirmed case.

*CARLOS UX-GONZ-LEZ (Madrid, 1967) holds a PhD in Latin American Studies from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and a professor in the department of Hispanic and Latin American Studies at the Australian University of Monash.

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