Let’s share the bad news first. For all practical purposes, we are experiencing a global economic depression. Almost every nation on the planet finds itself in the throes of a worldwide surge in new COVID-19 cases, with each day’s report supplanting the already record-high rate of deaths, hospitalizations, and new infections.
What’s more, there’s little to indicate that we have reached either the “turning point” or the peak of the current crisis. Indeed those fearing “the worst is yet to come” may be sadly correct.
One dire global prediction from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and Evaluation (IHME) estimates an astounding 4 million deaths by the end of 2020. More conservative projections from The World Bank puts that number at a number just under 2 million. If the current surge continues, it remains anyone’s guess what the final death toll will actually be and, with no end of the disease in sight, when that grim tally can be counted.
In a world where many are out of both cash and hope – living from week to week, it is not clear if we have arrived at the beginning of the end or, for that matter, even the beginning of the end.
In the case of Bali, predictions of a recovery in the travel industry in the second half of 2021 may prove optimistic and well beyond the ability of most to survive the current health and economic maelstrom.
Vaccines are being developed at breakneck speed, precariously bypassing critical trials along the way. If a viable vaccine is discovered, there will remain problems of sufficient production, pricing, equitable distribution to the world community, and overcoming political and religious reluctance to immunize. Should an obstacle arise at any one of these stops along the way, the current economic downturn with untold misery and pain to people everywhere will continue for an indefinite future.
When a Cure is Much Better than the Prevention
Accordingly, the most practicable and quickest solution to the current global pandemic is therapeutic steps proven effective in treating the mounting toll of 42 million afflicted by COVID-19 since its sudden appearance in the early months of 2020.
The HIV-AIDS epidemic, first identified in 1982, claimed more than 32 million lives before an effective therapeutic for that disease was discovered, commuting a “certain death” sentence, and allowing the world to, once again, “couple in confidence.” Similarly, as the world waits for a yet-to-be-developed COVID-19 vaccine, our “best bet” is that a promising drug treatment will mitigate the worst effects of the disease and embolden humankind to again re-congregate to shop, entertained, dine, drink, and travel again.
Just like the effective therapeutic for HIV-AIDS, effective treatment for COVID-19 would similarly allow a self-isolating world to resume normal human contact. Travelers would take holidays, attend sporting events, and attend conferences confident that, in any case, reliable medications are available that can prevent death and restore good health. Despite a growing number of new infections, that death rates as a percentage of total coronavirus cases are in decline, and hospital stays are shortening, demonstrates that advances in the treatment of the virus are providing positive results.
Treatment over a more distant hope of preventative inoculation is what a crumbling world economy most urgently needs.
Recently, this need for immediate action was stated by U.S. Travel Association, President and CEO Roger Dow, who said: “The U.S. and global economies simply cannot afford to wait for a widely-distributed COVID vaccine for international travel to resume, so innovative technologies and the embrace of best health practices need to provide the way forward.”
While improved and more reliable screening will facilitate travelers’ movements across borders, the world’s best hope to avoid the cataclysmic effects of this prolonged global depression is a highly effective course of medical treatment. Only with the near-certain knowledge that the coronavirus can be readily identified and the fatal progress of the disease reversed in hand will people again confidently travel to destinations near and far and commune with each other in restaurants and other public places.
Treatments for COVID-19 will continue to come in spurts and dashes, eventually providing increasingly effective ways to deal with the disease. Effective testing methods and proven therapeutic remedies are being discovered daily. This approach together with following disciplined health protocols are “the shortcuts” to the resumption of commercial activity and the badly-needed ‘V-shaped” recovery for the economy.
We remain hopeful that an effective vaccination will eventually become available to the world. But, given the likely schedule of developing and delivering a vaccine, a Cure for COVID-19 is arguably better and its prevention.