Inequities and Injustices Laid Bare by the Pandemic

Given that there’s enough anxiety and bad news going around, I’ve been consciously minimizing sharing anything negative here. But it’s hard not to vent about the tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering out there.

Its bad enough that tens of thousands of Americans are dying in a country with literally trillions of dollars sloshing around in its financial markets and economy (and that millions more have or will face grinding poverty, even as “essential” workers). But the developing world is about to face a reckoning as well.

Given how devastating the virus has been for richer nations, imagine countries with even fewer resources. There are already tens of thousands of confirmed cases in countries across Latin America, Africa, and South Asia; it’s very likely there are even more that haven’t been detected due to the lack of public health infrastructure.

Not only is it difficult to test and treat the infected, but imagine forcing hundreds of millions of already-poor people in their homes and out of work. Pakistan and India alone have together quarantined a fifth of humanity, which, while necessary, poses tremendous risks (the mantra is, either die of the disease or we die of hunger). Both countries have rolled out plans to provide support, but the sheer cost and logistics will pose tremendous challenges (look how hard a time we’ve had).

In the end, none of this should be surprising. In a “normal” year, we lose millions of people to preventable diseases with treatments and cures worth literally pennies. Hundreds of thousands of kids die of something as banal to us as diarrhea. A mere eight people have more wealth than half of humanity (about 3.5 billion people). This pandemic has dramatically highlighted the horrifically stark and senseless disparities within our species, and many of us feel frustrated at our apparent powerlessness to do anything about it.

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