“There is light at the end of the tunnel” is what we all have been telling ourselves since the outbreak of Covid-19. Making a comeback in the history of pandemics, Covid-19 dominated the year 2020. With the vaccine rolling out, we finally breathe a sigh of relief. Humankind no longer stands helpless before natural pandemics. And with every passing day, new conspiracy theories about Covid-19 are on the news.
Turn back the clock to the 1300s. The time when one of the deadliest pandemics recorded in human history- the Black Death, struck humankind. It resulted in the deaths of up to 75-200 million people. Little did the people know that the culprit was the minuscule Yersinia pestis bacterium. Not bad air, mean-spirited demons, or angry gods. People carried out mass processions and prayers to please the angels and fairies. Back then, the existence of bacteria and viruses was not surmised, and the idea of the vaccine was perplexing. People didn’t know how the epidemic could be slowed down effectively. Neither did they know how it moved from person to person, or how it could be stopped. They waited for it to cure itself.
Disastrous epidemics struck humankind as explorers travelled across continents carrying diseases against which the natives had no immunity.
Another deadly infectious disease was Smallpox. A biological time bomb that burst out of an African slave. He left the island of Cuba in a small Spanish flotilla on 5 March 1520 and reached Mexico. A Native American family looked after him for fever and rashes. Within fifteen days, the town turned into a graveyard, and the refugees carried it beyond Mexico. Corpses were rotting on the streets. Priests and doctors were consulted, but nothing helped. Smallpox killed around 500 million people in the last 100 years of its existence. In the 20th century alone 300 million people died due to Smallpox.
Smallpox was just the first wave as the Spanish continued on their quest of expanding their territory. They became the carriers of diseases like measles, flu, etc which in turn eliminated a lot of natives.
Authorities stood defenceless in the face of calamity until 1796. Edward Jenner, a country doctor from England, invented a method to protect against Smallpox. This paved the way for vaccines to protect us against polio, measles, rubella, etc.
In January 1918, the ‘Spanish Flu’ killed half a billion people within a few months. Mainly because oil, beef, copper, grain, etc were traded around the globe. The first world war killed 40 million people from 1914-1918. While the Spanish flu killed 50-100 million in less than a year. The unparalleled achievements of medicine over the past few decades eradicated smallpox in 1979. The World Health Organization has stopped vaccinating humans against it ever since.
Though such pandemics made comebacks now and then, people faced constant waves of smaller infectious diseases. Until the modern era, very few people lived long enough to die from non-infectious diseases like heart disease or old age. Vaccinations, antibiotics, and hygiene were not a part of their medical infrastructure.
SARS in 2002/3, bird flu in 2005, swine flu in 2009/10, and ebola in 2014 were a few other potential outbreaks. Yet, we managed to control them. Though they sent shockwaves across the world, it resulted in a relatively smaller number of victims. The earth has seen it all, from the Black death to Covid-19.
We know that any pathogen might mutate and jump from animals to humans. And some unknown cousin in the family of viruses is always waiting just around the corner. And as a matter of fact, we also know that we are now well equipped to suppress its consequences. If The Black Death strikes now, we look at it as unjustifiable negligence of humans and responsible committees. We do not blame it on an angry nature, or demons.
With an increase in the global transport network, destructive viruses can spread across countries in less than twenty-four hours. Undeniably, we will face many more pandemics in the future. But then, we will also be able to deal with them more effectively.
Today’s medicine and technology designed nanorobots. These, in the future, will navigate through your bloodstreams and kill the predators in your body. Artificial Intelligence, in the field of medicine, is making remarkable modifications by increasing abilities for healthcare professionals to understand various health patterns in a better way. Scientists are carrying out researches, developing revolutionary treatments, and inventing bionic predators. Soon, death might not be inevitable for human beings as the quality of lifestyle is advancing rapidly. Advancements in science that allow doctors to treat bacteria, viruses might also contribute to cold wars and enable terrorists to create diseases and destroy people. So if humankind is still endangered, then it is because of these man-made threats in favour of cold-blooded theories.
February 10, 2021 at 10:40 PM
Good to know such info , nice work.!
February 11, 2021 at 7:44 PM
Good keep it up 👏👏