Libre: Disease X factory

Mel Libre

CORONAVIRUS is causing worry the world over, as it continues to spread outside of China where it emanated. As worrisome are fake news that fan more anxiety among people. For instance, I have a colleague who hails from China and she has panic attacks at night, afraid of the grim outcome the pandemic will bring to her family. And to think that there has been no reported presence of coronavirus in New Zealand.

It is important that we do not take seriously all the stuff that are posted on social media, otherwise we end up emotionally-drained, which in turn could have serious implication on our physical health. For instance, take that photo showing a Chinese woman having her fill of bat soup. It turns out that vlogger Wang Mengyun did eat a bat during a tour of Palau, Micronesia in 2016 where it is a local delicacy. Her intention was to introduce the lifestyle of the people of island.

There is no denying that the new strain of coronavirus originated in Wuhan, the seventh most populous city in China with a population of over 11 million. The culprit is said to be the wet market in Wuhan where wild animals are butchered right in front of customers. In November 2019, a Netflix “Explained” series episode titled “The Next Pandemic” pointedly described how the coronavirus could spread from the wet markets in China referred to as disease X factory. Bill Gates as a resource person warned that it would takes years to find a cure should a new form of virus emerge. And it has--and scientists are working at breakneck speed to develop a silver bullet to stop the outbreak.

Another timely Netflix feature, “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak,” deals about people who are at the frontline in the fight against deadly diseases. While many of us are aware of the death and destruction that the two world wars caused, the history books rarely mention the deadliest epidemics in human history, the 1918 influenza pandemic from January 1918–December 1920 that infected 500 million people around the world and resulted in the death of 50 million-100 million.

There are health workers, scientists and researchers who are passionate about combating viruses that threaten humanity. There are Jake Glanville and Sarah Ives who are independently researching to develop a universal flu vaccine. The former, who used to work in Pfizer, said that in big pharma, the process of developing a new cure is slow and profit-oriented; thus, his quixotic quest. If only he had enough funding.

Which reminds us of the sci-fi film, “Twelve Monkeys,” where a deadly virus was released in some of the major airports of the world that nearly wiped out humanity. A grim scenario that must not happen.

It is, therefore, a welcome move that the World Health Organization has declared that the coronavirus epidemic as a public health emergency of international concern, as this has spread to 18 countries.

For many of us, let us remain calm and not contribute to spreading fake news. Let us pray the Oratio Imperata against the spread of the coronavirus, that a cure may be found soon, those affected be restored to health and that humanity be protected.