LLRC - Lessons Learnt and Recovering from Covid-19 | Sunday Observer

LLRC - Lessons Learnt and Recovering from Covid-19

8 November, 2020

Infectious diseases have been existing since the beginning of life on earth, so that what the world is now experiencing with Covid-19 is nothing new for the human population. What is new is the external environment in which we are forced to fight it. As in any other process of solving problems we have to use our knowledge from the past, analyse the present situation and identify the problem in the proper perspective and then choose the most efficient way to solve the problem, while minimising possible negative effects on our future that may arise from that particular solution.

Even though diseases and illnesses have plagued humanity for thousands of years the frequency has been rising with the increased population, mobility and agricultural activities, in the early days. Widespread trade created new opportunities for human interactions as well as human-animal co-existence in different parts of the world.

Densely populated cities, exotic lifestyles and increased contacts with different populations of people, animal and ecosystems have certainly increased the probability of pandemics/epidemics/endemics over the years.

In the mid-1300s a pandemic named Black Death killed about 200 million people worldwide and the spread of smallpox in the 1500s killed about 56 million. More recently in the late 1800s the Third Plague killed about 12 million, mostly in China and India.


In the early 1900s the Spanish Flu killed about 50 million people and HIV/AIDS about 30 million worldwide, in the late 1900s. According to the WHO statistics there are 47.3 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 1.2 million deaths worldwide by November 4, 2020. Therefore, comparing the death toll one might even say that the damage done by Covid-19 so far is not as bad as some of the other pandemics the world has experienced.

The comparison should not just be the number of deaths, but the number of deaths with the living standards at the time. In ancient societies people believed that evil spirits inflicted disease and destruction upon those who deserved it.

Unscientific perceptions, lack of knowledge and resources certainly have contributed to the unusually large number of deaths in the past. We can still see people all over the world, using religious and cultural remedies to chase those spirits away as a viable method of cure for such illnesses.

The advancement of science and technology has helped humanity to reduce the number of deaths due to pandemics though finding the cause and/or a cure is still slow and incomplete. What is evident is that people have not paid much attention to the type of destruction bacteria and viruses can inflict upon humans, animals and plants.


It may be the reason that most people cannot comprehend why we were not better prepared for such an inevitable situation.

Perhaps it would be more sensible for us to improve our knowledge about these hidden enemies rather than trying to colonize other countries and/or planets.

Another aspect to look at is the way the world economy recovered after each of those pandemics in the past. Again, the mechanics are different in the global-economy we are living in today, but the basics would still be similar.

Globalisation has proven to be a double-edged sword where the benefits outweigh the costs. While we should actively participate in the global community we should not relax our guard against the harm that can come our way, irrespective of the country of origin.

Therefore, it is important to have an honest self-evaluation as a nation and find out where we went wrong after successfully controlling the spread of the virus in May this year. Perhaps we lowered our guard too soon and allowed people from other countries enter without proper health protocols.

May be we didn’t continue with the testing and contact tracing the way we should have done, for a few more months. This is where a strong political will, focused on the well-being of the nation, becomes the most important factor.

No other activity such as elections, national exams, parliamentary debates and/or Supreme Court appointments should take priority over timely actions in preventing the citizens from being attacked by a deadly virus.

It is important to prepare for the future while we learn from the past. The WHO says that, every year, there will be about two to three pandemics of this nature.

Some may even be more aggressive than the Covid-19. Scientists have already warned that there is a high possibility that there are all kinds of bacteria and viruses hidden under the ice of the Arctic Circle. In 2016, a 12-year old boy in Siberia was found dead after being infected by anthrax.

Bacteria and viruses

Scientists who investigated the case concluded that a reindeer infected by anthrax that was buried under the top layer of ice, about seventy-five years ago was exposed after the ice melted due to the heat-wave in 2016, thus infecting the child.

Dead humans and animals have been buried under this ice for centuries and global warming may expose the world to all the diseases they have had sooner than later.

Perhaps it is then one more reason why we as citizens of the world should be concerned about global warming, collectively.

Another aspect we should be concerned about is the long term effects of Covid-19 in the human body. As we know there are viruses that can stay in the human body continuously without showing any symptoms of illnesses. Can they become active again? There are some viruses that can get in to the good cells and make them cancerous.

There are others which can make certain organs of the human body more prone to cancer.

There have been reported cases of memory loss after recovering from Covid-19. Would this virus affect the brain functions even after recovering from it? These are some of the many different aspects we have to look into collectively as citizens of this world.

The writer has served in the higher education sector as an academic for over twenty years in the USA and thirteen years in Sri Lanka and can be contacted at [email protected]