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The Financial Express

Why not an urgent Pandemic Summit  


Why not an urgent Pandemic Summit   

The global death toll of the now-raging pandemic may soon reach the border of half a million. The number continues to crawl upward. A few countries are experiencing recurrence of the scourge in a new zone after their earlier affected areas were declared free of the virus.

In such a situation, pandemic experts come up with a grim prediction. As they feel, the planet earth may not be completely free of Covid-19. Since it keeps mutating at a rapid speed in different regions into localised and unique forms, the root virus is feared to survive in one or another form in some regions.

After it struck the worldover one and half decades back, the virus of the2002-2004 epidemic of SARS, now considered the parent pathogen of Covid-19, has gone on spawning newer respiratory diseases. At present, the world is home to myriad types of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

The inhabitants of the earth, at present, cannot expect an overnight eradication of the Covid-19, also called novel coronavirus, despite the part lifting of lockdowns by a number of developed nations. Some of these nations have set deadlines at August-September by which they expect to engage in activities in socio-economic and cultural fields.

But the millstone hangs around the neck. Misgivings do not go away. Thus the Covid-19-struck swathes remain a fraught zone which is dominated by the developing and least developed countries. There are rays of hope as well as patches of darkness which still linger in the apparently sunny morning sky. In an edgy time like this, lots of expert observations on the corona presence keep surfacing.

In line with this, one feels inclined to concentrate on one theory. It's both delightful and discomforting. The observation has a section of epidemiologists propounding the view that the present coronavirus pandemic is too arrogant to vanish from the earth. Preventive vaccines and remedial medicines will finally prove futile in the face of its ferocity. As they have studied, the dreadful virus is set to wreak havoc on mankind for years to come.

Following this troubling phase, that will witness corona outbursts off and on, the virus will slowly burn itself out. These schools have expressed their doubt about the invention of all-time effective vaccines or medicines for Covid-19anytime soon. According to them,the world may have to wait a longer time than expected to see the invention of a fully effective vaccine and medical cures.

Apart from Covid-19, the present world is afflicted with dozens of calamities and existential hazards. Global meets and brainstorming on these problems continue to be held round the year. The most critical of these meets in modern history was held immediately after the end of the World WarII at Potsdam, Germany, in July-August in 1945. It was spectacularly attended by theBig Three - Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Harry Truman - who defeated Hitler's coalition in the war. At a second meet called the Yalta Conference and held in Crimea in the same year, the Allied Leaders dismantled the then international diplomatic group called the League of Nations for its failure to prevent the World War II. In its place, the Allied Coalition set up today's United Nations in 1945.

This is how the modern-era tradition of meets, conferences, summits etc took root in the mid-1940s. By the 1950s, many of today's major issues in different sectors of human lives had emerged in the global scenario. Those began with invasion of other countries' territories, independence wars, civil wars, ethnic conflicts and many other issues relating to peacetime life.

That in over a decade world meets on issues like global trade, tariff and non-tariff barriers, regional political and economic blocs, tourism, and preservation of architectural heritage would occupy dominant places among meeting agendas surprised many. But those meets were necessitated by the realities of the time. Perhaps in line with these conferences, international meets on the urgent issues of poverty alleviation, health and hygiene, disease eradication, vaccination campaigns etc followed suit.

In the next two decades world environment and climate emerged as two major subjects of international conclaves. So have human rights and women's empowerment. Since the 1990s, greenhouse gas emission and ozone depletion leading to global warming has been drawing world leaders and environmental activists to international meetings without break. The days-long Earth Summits draw heads of state and government, as well as thousands of activists from all parts of the world.

Given its worldwide spread and rise in intensity, the Covid-19 pandemic rightfully deserves to be a theme of an international conference. AUN specialised agency, the World Health Organisation (WHO), has, automatically, become responsible for overseeing the pandemic's ravages, fallout and cures. But it has lately found itself hamstrung with threats of fund cuts and other disincentives.

In short, the international body dealing with global disease-related issues has drawn the ire of some quarters including an influential member of the UN. To the relief of the people looking to the WHO for preventive actions aimed at stopping the veritably unhindered march of the pandemic, the organisation's chief has retained his calm. He has shown his pure professionalism as he proved his skill in weathering the brief crisis.

Dozens of global philanthropic agencies, activists' platforms and, even, nations are expected to come forward to organize a world colloquium on the Covid-19 pandemic. It could be arranged in direct collaboration with the WHO. In fact, the conference has become overdue for the corona-plagued world. Famed doctors, epidemiologists, pharmaceutical companies and other experts from around the world can be invited to the international meet to exchange their opinions with each other.

Given the pervasive misinformation, lack of correct data and the smokescreens, a Covid-19 Pandemic Summit ought to be held immediately. After the first conference, it can be organized in different regions of the world like the Earth Summit. The bitter reality is many countries are still threatened by further corona bouts.

 shihabskr@ymail.com

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