It was two years when the centenary of the end of the First World War was remembered. Few people remembered then that it was also the period of the greatest global epidemic of modern times. The flu that spread as a pandemic in 1918–1919 was named the Spanish flu. The epidemic engulfed about one-third of the world’s population at that time and at least five crore people died in it. It was called Spanish flu because it was first identified in Spain, but it is believed to have reached the West with Chinese bonded laborers during the war and spread around the world due to the global movement of troops during the World War. Only about twenty five million people died in India from this disease.
The Spanish flu was an H1-N1 type of virus. Its heir was the H1-N1 virus, whose infection spread in the year 2009-2010, which is known as swine flu. About ten percent of the world’s population was affected by swine flu and the number of deaths due to this is said to be one and a half million to five and a half million. However, it is also believed that its virus was no more dangerous than the common flu virus.
The corona virus infection, which the World Health Organization has termed as a global pandemic, is a close relative of the SARS virus spread in 2002, which was also the corona virus. The scientific name of this new virus is SARS COV-2. In 2002, around 8,000 people were affected by the SARS infection, and about 800 of those patients died. In comparison, the new infection has caught around 1.25 million people across the world so far and nearly five thousand of them have died, ie this new infection spreads much faster than SARS, but it is less deadly is.
The purpose of knowing all this is that we can see Corona virus infection in the right perspective and understand how much we need to be alert and how much to panic. This infection has come in the era of information and social media, so it needs to be analyzed more intelligently, because the information required in this period is suppressed due to many reasons and the infection of the lie spreads faster than any virus. When the first SARS infection spread, the Chinese government was accused of initially suppressing news of the infection and allowing it to spread deadly. This time also the attitude of China’s monopolistic government was no different.
When a young doctor in Wuhan predicted SARS-like infection in his group on social media, the police threatened the doctor for needlessly spreading panic. This young doctor Li Wenliang later died of a corona infection. Had that warning been heeded, it would have been possible that the disease would have been confined to Wuhan, not a global pandemic. It is not just in the context of epidemics, but it is seen in many areas that a free and transparent system of information can solve a lot of problems, but the power that governments get from the right to censorship has been like that for centuries. Is only
One of the major reasons behind the uncontrolled Spanish flu of 1918 was that due to the war most countries had censorship and news of the epidemic was being censored. One reason why the disease was identified in Spain was that it was a neutral nation at war and there was no censorship. There was no pressure to hide anything from doctors to newspapers. Apart from not getting the right information, another big danger is the rapid spread of misinformation. The more difficult it is to convince people the right thing, the easier it is to spread rumors and misinformation.
On the social media, somewhere under the mountain of lies, the truth is almost always buried. In the era of such epidemics, there have always been people claiming peculiar treatment. It includes a wide variety of herbal remedies, from cow dung and cow urine, while any drug can be claimed to be effective on a disease only if it has been tried on some patients and found successful. Have gone Such claim has no meaning on the disease that has just come.
Some such people claim that to avoid the corona virus, eating non-vegetarian, especially chicken, should be avoided. There is no logic behind this except deep religious allegiance to vegetarianism. Someone is a vegetarian, it is his own decision, but it will not affect the corona virus. This only hurts the chicken sellers and non-vegetarians are needlessly bereft of the necessary protein and other nutrients in their food.
The corona virus is the first global emergency of our era or in the last few years. We can use it to prepare a vaccine for this virus and to develop a new protocol against such problems every few times. At the same time, it is also the occasion when we can make a serious effort to get rid of misinformation, rumors and fake news during an emergency. Science will break the corona virus, but this second challenge is much bigger.