Coronavirus pandemic: just some thoughts..

Seyi Osinowo
4 min readMar 30, 2020

If you are just waking up from a coma, I have some news for you: the world is under a lockdown!

In a bid to reduce the spread of covid19, experts have prescribed an unprecedented act of social distancing as the global action required to flattening the curve. The idea is to reduce the spread throughout the population to a level that the health system can manage patients without becoming overwhelmed. I like the idea but I wonder about what this new normal would look like, because like it or not, the world has changed.

A bit of a background to get my perspective, carriers of Covid19 are expected to become symptomatic between 2 to 14 days. What’s most concerning about this is even in that state, asymptomatic patients can still pass on the virus to people within close proximity. So in the event that the infection curve has been flattened and life ‘returns to normal’ (whatever that means) carriers of this virus will still exist within the population..and they can transmit the virus albeit unknowingly.

There is some glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel…I suppose. For one, it is hoped that the summer months could stall the spread of the virus. Also, big pharmas have commenced the race of first to get the vaccine to market, which from current estimates should be in about 18 months. I personally hope for the summer slowdown in the spread of the virus, as that could buy us time to end the global lockdown. It could also give time for us to collaborate on a solid COVID mitigation strategy for the 2020/2021 winter. It is important to get the economy back up as an indefinite lockdown is not something the globe can handle. Despite automation and artificial intelligence, a guesstimate suggests that working from home is not an option for at least 40% of the global workforce. Production lines need to be maintained and interactions that involve a significant portion of the economy are necessary to secure just the supply of basic necessities. And people need to interact, without any care of the corona status of the person they are dealing with.

In any case, given the attention the virus has garnered over the past couple of months, it is unlikely people will be comfortable getting infected even if we found ways to drastically lower the deathrate. So to manage the impending paranoia when the lockdown comes to an end, the world must be prepared to live alongside the coronavirus. Living alongside would imply a new norm of preventative measures, parties in a transaction must adopt to minimizing the possibility of spread..considering either might be an asymptomatic carrier.

There must be a code of conduct that recognizes the dignity of the participants but also considers nature of social distancing in everyday dealings. I mean, think of a plumber having to fix a leaking tap in the house…whats the best way to have a technician fiddle with the water faucets, without getting their equipment treated with hand sanitizers, or getting the customer somewhat agitated? How do we deal with watchmakers, computers and mobile phone repairers without dousing the equipment with disinfectants that may destroy them? And how would it be to be the plumber or the repairer? What must they wear to protect themselves?
But most worrying, how would social distancing impact civic society and its ability to oppose a government? In countries where human rights are violated and dictators are violent to the opposition or the press, how will they regroup especially if there is concern about the health status of their compatriot? In the event most conversations would be online for self-preservation purposes, how can privacy be guaranteed?

I think a way to return to normalcy or accept what’s new with minimum disruption would be a significant improvement in the accuracy and duration of testings so much so that we can know our covid status, and that of the people around us. Information is the key, in my opinion. And given how uncertain we are about the vaccines, our action must sway towards knowledge and early response.

The US government recently approved a test that can tell if a person has the virus minutes. The subsequent focus should be getting this test to the mainstream, fast and cheap. So much so that a person can frequently self-test and not have to wait until the symptoms show and the case is critical, as is done now. Once a test is positive, the rapid COVID19 response unit can quarantine the individual and address their basic needs, preferably in their homes. If their situation escalates, the patient can be moved to an intensive care unit.

A setup like this could prevent unnecessary trips to the hospital and undue panic, provide an early response which could save lives and money too (as fewer ventilators would be required). But more importantly, it could remove the stigma around the virus and enable see it for what it is and always has been…simply a virus.