A huge statement from the World Health Organization, last week, seems to have got lost in the din. The WHO called an end to Covid-19 as a global health emergency — a historic moment in time, that we could do well to step back and reflect on.
A pandemic not seen by the world in 100 years — naturally, health and other systems were caught woefully unprepared. It was a time when cities worldwide went eerily silent with lockdowns. In fact, the last three years have been tumultuous for many, and its effect lingers on.
Families lost a member at the table, some unable to even give them a proper final send-off. Others lost their livelihood. The kirana store cannot afford a delivery person anymore, the neighbourhood cafe has shut down, and sellers of odd-ball items on the streets have not come back.
While healthcare institutions and their staff across the world were overwhelmed, closer home, we witnessed the desperate scramble of families for oxygen and medicines. And the unforgettable images of bodies floating in the river.
The world has come a long way since WHO first learned of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan (China), over 1,200-days ago.
Today there are multiple vaccines, rustled up in the shortest possible time, delivered across huge swathes of people through cross-country collaborations. But the world also witnessed some very disturbing jostling by deep-pocketed nations to get ahead in the line for vaccines and medicines.
In three years, Covid-19 has turned our world upside down, says the WHO chief. The death toll at almost 7 million would well be several times higher — at least 20 million, he cautions. The scientific community still seeks the source of the virus. And this one and others like it, remain in our midst. Of that irrevocable fact, the world needs to be mindful. It needs to build back more meaningfully, and for more people.