America: Leadership, Ebola and COVID 19
By Edema Tosan
There is something to be said about the place of leadership in society and the contrast is evident in how America has handled Ebola and COVID 19.
On October 25, 2014 a man said these words: “here is the bottom line, patients can beat this disease, we can beat this disease, but we have to stay vigilant, we have to work together at every level – (international), federal, state and local governments. We have to keep leading the global response because the best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep us safe, is to stop this epidemic at its source, (contain this epidemic at its origin over there). President Obama had the aptitude and foresight to tackle the Ebola epidemic the one and only right way; without global socio-economical shutdown. What a stark difference compared to the current Covid-19 catastrophe that is yet ongoing.
The first thing noticed from the above statements is the amount of times “we” was referenced- four times. The “We” signifies worldwide inclusiveness, collaboration and a teamwork approach. Apart from leading the charge to contain this epidemic at its then noted source (Africa); the statement also invited the entire world to join this effort to prevent further spread of this epidemic to negate global socio-economical shutdown and other ramifications. One of life’s main concepts has to do with knowing that there is no I in the team; it takes a team to fight an epidemic or pandemic. This is something we severely lack in battling the Covid-19 pandemic at the moment.
Under American tutelage, the US treated the Ebola virus as a national security priority and threw in expert American leadership. The US sent specialists – (civilians, medical, military and state department staff) to help tackle this epidemic at it source. The same Dr Anthony Fauci (CDC/NIH) is and was at the core of both virus outbreaks; but with different outcomes so far. The Obama Ebola epidemic team listened to Dr Fauci’s team (specialist and expert advice and recommendations), and followed their recommendations to the wire. Yes, there were probably some disagreements between the Obama administration and Dr Fauci’s team-CDC/NIH; but it was clearly nothing compared to what we are currently witnessing; misinformation, misdirection, complete ineptitude, absolute chaos and total disregard for human life.
At this point the overall fact that truly matters is that there have been less than 50000 cases of Ebola infection worldwide since the first Ebola outbreak, and about 15000 deaths compare to the outrageous numbers linked with the Covid-19 runaway train – like in the movie-UNSTOPPABLE by Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. It is no mystery as we are living in two different times, same world and definitely two different approaches. Furthermore; the depth of the Covid-19 worldwide socio-economical shutdown quagmire is going to leave a dent both physically and mentally in our collective day to day existence and the ripple effects will continue to bruise and scar us for decades. The ways we use to do restaurants, schools, movies, e.t.c have already changed and are still changing. Covid-19 is changing our lives because of our weak response to fighting it. The lesson learned is very simple; a containment strategy is the one and only option to fighting any outbreaks – epidemic or pandemic. And we should not be complacent, even now with suggestions that there is very likely another outbreak in our horizon. Covid-19’s cousin, by all estimates, is going to be more deadly once it mutates and gains traction, transmitting its cargo to the human population.
The United States of America spearheaded Ebola epidemic containment, isolating the infected, applied effective contact tracing, strict safe burials, deployed ground base health community education resources, retrained thousands of healthcare workers expeditiously, deployed CDC and NIH expert response teams, built new Ebola TX units, empowered and coordinated public health, advance and mobile labs, galvanized two billion contributions from 70+ countries to take the fight to Ebola. This is much unlike the weak covid-19 response, with every country fending for itself and with no true global leader coupled with near-total worldwide chaos with countries now banning citizens from other countries.
Both Ebola and Covid are viruses, share most of the same quality except infectious mode of transmission, Ebola is more contact spread while Covid is more aerosol/airborne, Ebola is more virulent. As of date the Ebola virus first case reported December 1976 ended up with 318 total cases and 218 deaths with 86% fatality rate. Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a global epidemic viral haemorrhagic disease with fever that compromises our body within 1-3weeks with no cure yet, death can occur within 1-2wks, and is spread mostly by direct contact from infected to non-infected persons. Ebola virus has had multiple outbreaks like a whack-a-mole mainly in the African continent, as of date Ebola has claimed less than 15000 total lives worldwide.
At the end of the day reality comes down to basic truthfulness like good things happen to good people, we reap what we sow and where there is smoke there is bound to be fire. Mother nature only rewards the most adaptive and progressive. Mother nature throws her punches to all places to see what lands or hits and then she recalibrates her next moves exponentially like occurs somewhat when playing chess. Mother nature doesn’t rewards the smartest or strongest, only the most adaptive. Mother nature has two basic question for you; are you humble, do you respect my children-virus/infection/disaster e.t.c? Are you building your adaptation response around the sciences – biology, chemistry and physics, not ideology or politics? If not, Mother nature’s children are always progressively evolving – are you progressively coordinated to counter/mitigate mother nature’s children (viruses in this case) evolution?
Imagine now if we had a president, a true leader with knowledge and foresight to say these words: “here is the bottom line, patients can beat this disease, we can beat this disease, but we have to stay vigilant, we have to work together at every level – (international), federal, state and local. We have to keep leading the global response because the best way to stop this pandemic, the best way to keep Americans safe is to stop this pandemic at its source – ground zero in China and Italy!’ That way, a worldwide shut down might have been negated and the over half a million lives now lost and counting mitigated.