Coronavirus One year on, heading for a victory of human genius?

Twelve months of struggle, worry, suffering for the entire world population due to a virus, SARS-CoV2 more commonly known as the new coronavirus or COVID-19. No country was spared, all economies were shaken, millions of lives were lost, nothing escaped this tsunami. And then was light with the discovery of vaccines. 


By Talel de Sinta, at Tunis


History will long remember the year 2020. As the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, reminded us on the anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO) issuing its pandemic alert, “the world has faced a tsunami of suffering” for twelve months. However, he believes that “there is some light at the end of the tunnel”.’


Chilling figures


We should probably find a stronger word than “tsunami” to describe and express what the world has experienced over the last twelve months. This affected developed as well as underdeveloped or developing countries. Businesses, schools and living spaces have been closed, jobs have been lost, travel has been banned, national and international sports competitions have been stopped or cancelled, gender inequalities have widened, etc. The pandemic has acted like a tempest, even destroying certain family ties.


However, it is important to note that in terms of deaths, developing countries in general, and Africa in particular, have been less affected. At present, there is no convincing explanation for the “African” resilience to this pandemic.


Today it is difficult to put an exact figure on the number of people who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the numbers that are circulating on the issue are staggering. For example, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that the coronavirus cost 255 million jobs worldwide in 2020, with the heaviest toll taken by the labor-intensive tourism sector.


As for the number of deaths and infections, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports 2,653,644 deaths from COVID-19 for nearly 120 million infections worldwide; the vast majority of patients recover, adds the WHO.


By continent and as of March 15, 2021, Europe had 897,130 deaths for 39,955,677 confirmed cases; 719,615 deaths (22,806,598 cases) for Latin America and the Caribbean; 557344 deaths (30,347,732 cases) for the United States and Canada; 263,001 deaths (16,656,742 cases) for Asia; 108,220 deaths (5,943,403 cases) for the Middle East; 107,821 deaths (4,040,335 cases) for Africa; and 958 deaths (33,463 cases) for Oceania.


The mystery of Africa!


In Africa, the situation is disparate from one region to another. According to figures published by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, the continent has more than 4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 107,625 deaths and more than 3.7 million recoveries. Southern Africa remains the most affected region, followed by North Africa and West Africa is third. Therefore, Central Africa would be officially the region least infected with COVID-19.


Six countries account for nearly 90% of infections and deaths on the continent. These are South Africa (with its variant), which has recorded 1.52 million confirmed cases, followed by Morocco (488,632 cases), Tunisia (241,257 cases), Egypt (190,280 cases), Ethiopia (175,467 cases) and Nigeria (160,657 confirmed cases).


There is “special” interrogation on Tunisia, a country that, for almost 10 months (until December 2020), seemed “out of reach” in terms of infections and deaths, so much so that some explained this resilience by food or climate. However, since then, the country has been among the most affected on the African continent. It has even had its own variant!


Sigh of relief…


Finally, a light appeared on the horizon with a vaccine, then two, three, four or more. Their names are Sputnik V (Russia), Moderna and Pfizer (USA), AstraZeneca (UK-Sweden), CanSinoBiologics and Sinovac (China).


Whatever their degree of effectiveness, the COVID-19 vaccines are the hope for the world. Because “so many lives have been lost. Economies have been upended and societies left reeling. The most vulnerable have suffered the most. Those left behind are being left even further behind,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres deplored in a statement on the anniversary of the WHO issuing its pandemic alert.


« UN will continue mobilizing the international community to deliver on the promise of the COVAX initiative for equitable and affordable vaccines »


He winked to the « nihilists” and “deniers” and saluted those who had stood up to them, including scientists and laboratories.” You have helped save lives,” he said.


However, the UN Chief knows that it is a battle won but not yet the war, especially in terms of access to vaccines for all. That’s why he said that “the UN will continue to mobilize the international community to deliver on the promise of the COVAX initiative for equitable vaccines, and to make them affordable and available to all, to better recover, and to put special emphasis on the needs of those who have borne the burden of this crisis on so many levels – women, minorities, the elderly, people with disabilities, refugees, migrants and indigenous peoples.”

It’s up to poor countries to fight back.

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