Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic on Environment And Socio-Economic Dynamics
TerraGreen|August 2020
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Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic on Environment And Socio-Economic Dynamics
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in global lockdowns, sharply restraining economic activity. The pandemic also had significant impact on socio-economic dynamics. Through this article, Dr Saba Noor, Dr Shama Parveen and Prof. Sher Ali wish to sensitize us to fine-tune our civility and act as responsible global citizens avoiding superstition and complacency. We must refrain from unsustainable practices that could harm the environment further. There should be efforts from our side to extend helping hand to others as much as possible in such pressing times. We must also prepare to face the aftermath of this pandemic to rebuild the society, our nation, and the world.
Dr Saba Noor, Dr Shama Parveen and Prof. Sher Ali

Currently, the coronavirus pandemic has caused global upheaval, impacting everyone on the earth. Humans have committed unprecedented atrocities on nature and are responsible for large-scale deforestation, contamination of water bodies, habitat destruction, and overexploitation of the earth’s resources. It is still not too late for us to mend our ways and protect our environment, arrest its rampant contamination, recycle domestic and industrial waste, and undertake large-scale plantation to restore the forests and green belts.

Environment for us is like the soul in our body because it supports, nourishes, and sustains us. However, humans have been highly irresponsible and have destroyed all the bounties of nature in the name of progress. The industrial revolution has propelled the rate of consumption and we have started collecting things that we do not need or need in only small quantities. All such activities directly or indirectly put pressure on the environment. Despite much debate on the origin of the coronavirus, it is largely agreed that it is a zoonotic disease and has originated from animal(s). Some pathogens share symbiotic relationship with their animal hosts and survive without encroaching upon other living systems. When the survival of these pathogens is at stake, they look for another host. Darwin’s theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ remains operative all the time. If the newly found host happens to be human, that pathogen invariably proves to be virulent. Alternatively, it becomes an integral part of the human genome. If this relationship is favoured evolutionarily, the virus becomes a permanent guest. The coronavirus pandemic has raised several environmental, social, emotional, educational, economic, and healthcare-related questions. In addition, it has also posed a challenge to law enforcement agencies and caregivers. Despite many departments that are affected, the health care system is able to provide some respite from this dreaded disease (Figure 1).

Coronavirus and Human Infection

Coronavirus Disease 2019 known as COVID-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). The fact that it is highly contagious makes the war against this virus even more challenging. In the present scenario, humans can be divided into susceptible and resistant groups. This is because not every individual is affected with similar severity. Similarly, not every individual dies due to this infection. More than 80 per cent recover and of the remaining 20 per cent, 5 per cent die but rest also recover slowly. The infection and recovery are not only related to epidemiology but also associated with our immune system. However, the immune system fluctuates rapidly and may be augmented by medicaments, food, clean environment, and a healthy lifestyle.

The human genome has close to about 3.5 billion haploid sequences and 20,000 genes. If a person is already suffering from diseases and he is also infected with coronavirus, such person would prove to be a sitting duck for this contagion. However, this may not be true for everyone because a strong immune system may protect a person from the perils of coronavirus infection. Thus, protecting an individual from the onslaught of the viral load may be the smart way to protect him/her from the infection. In this context, physical distancing makes more sense than relying on herd immunity. This is because herd immunity will first kill many and then protect some later whereas physical distancing will protect many and kill some later, largely those who violate rules of the game. The immune system is affected by the environment the person lives in. Thus, a polluted environment and unhealthy lifestyle will cause many avoidable diseases. A happy and contented person has a more robust immune system than that of an unhappy one.

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August 2020