Food relief distribution in Kibra slum in Nairobi. Note that some of these people do not have masks and those that do have them are wearing them incorrectly.

Let us look at the Covid-19 pandemic with a worldwide perspective. There is no doubt that the whole world is in this crisis together. As the song said, “We are one world after all” and the coronavirus has made this obvious to those who are paying attention to the pandemic. In a little more than six months the Covid-19 virus has spread throughout the world from its origin in Wuhan, China, to the remotest tribes in Brazil. Our present arrangement of 195 competing, separate states with their massive armaments is totally useless in containing the virus. One can’t shoot the virus with an AK-47.

Covid-19 is still new and there is much that is yet to be understood about the virus and how it works, spreads, its immunity, its long term damage to organs, and so on. In many places there is a strong push to as quickly as possible return to “normal”. Do we realize yet that the old “normal” was not good and that we humans need to adopt major changes?

It is clear that some countries – New Zealand, Vietnam, South Korea and even China after its initial Covid-19 crisis – have successfully contained the virus, but they must also be on constant alert for re-infections. Even most European countries are doing much better than they were a few months ago. The virus in other countries, though, such as United States, Brazil, and South Africa, is out of control. In considering the whole world as seen by the chart above the worldwide total for number of cases per day is increasing and deaths per day are in an increasing second wave.

There are at about 140 different vaccines now being developed, but it is uncertain how long it will take to have a proven vaccine, how effective it will be and for how long, and how it will be manufactured and supplied throughout the world. Another issue is how expensive will the vaccine be. Hopefully non-American companies will be the ones to succeed rather than the American pharmaceutical companies that plan on charging $2,000 a pop. Even distributing a successful vaccine will be a Herculean task that the current animosities between so many countries may be a major impediment to worldwide success. Success will come only when the whole world can contain the virus. I suspect Covid-19 will remain in the world for the foreseeable future.

There seems to be a consensus that the virus is airborne. This implies that everyone properly wears a mask in public (see picture above). China, South Korea, and some other places where people were always accustomed to wearing masks because of air pollution have controlled the virus better than other countries where people are opposed to their governments demanding that they wear masks.  Enclosed places like bars, churches, movie theaters, offices, and other similar spaces will have to be re-imagined. This will include all levels of schooling. What, for example, will be the new social distancing in a pre-school if the children cannot play with each other? I know of an elderly woman in a nursing home in the US who is confined alone to her room as food is just brought to her and left at her door. Will people be able to thrive with the coming isolation and loneliness? With Americans now confined to their own borders and unable to travel to most other countries, will the US return again to xenophobic isolationism?

The return of the wild: how nature is making a comeback in the ...

Deer in the back yard in England.

Has humankind learned to repent its profligate ways? People in New Delhi could see the Himalayan mountains for the first time in thirty years and those in Los Angeles could see the Sierra Nevada. Wildlife has quickly returned to many places when people were confined to their homes and unable to thong as before. At a more basic level, Covid-19 and subsequent viruses have jumped from animals to humans because people are converting and destroying the world’s natural habitat. Will people learn to live much more lightly and gently on the earth?

While China with its 1.4 billion people successfully controlling the virus and Europe with its 750 million people containing it much better than a few months ago, the American empire, where Covid-19 remains out of control, is on its deathbed. Will this pandemic crisis make us re-imagine a world which is more equitable, more cooperative, and more supportive of each other rather than the antagonistic, competitive, xenophobic, and militarized one that we have now? The late Quaker sociologist, Elise Boulding, used to conduct seminars called “Imaging a World without Weapons.” The pandemic crisis ought to give us an opportunity to imagine and implement a better world.

What are your thoughts? Send them to me at and, if I receive sufficient responses, I will publish them in next week’s Report from Kenya. Let me know if I can include your name and where you live.


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David Zarembka

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