The novel coronavirus is now responsible for over 160 million cases and more than 3 million deaths worldwide. Over 218 countries have been affected. The name designation derives from ‘CO’ for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. The ‘19’ designates the year of its discovery.
While COVID-19 is not the first global pandemic, it is one of the most difficult to contain. It is impossible to compare pandemics throughout history since there are extenuating societal and political factors at play, in addition to the progress of medicine and strength of each virus individually. The causes of most viruses are now determined to be respiratory droplets, with exceptions such as the bubonic plague caused by fleabites and the avian flu caused by contact with diseased poultry, living or dead.
The year 2020 was the first time modern technology made it possible to communicate critical updates to all countries quickly. For the Westernized world, this was meant to flatten the curve, but some of the least developed countries (LDCs) were already disadvantaged for several reasons when the global lockdown started.
LDCs lack the proper testing and tracking facilities to monitor the trends of COVID, thereby allowing infected individuals to interact with potential cases. A herd immunity approach for LDCs would be devastating because lockdowns and social distancing are challenging in more impoverished living conditions. Slums and refugee camps, for example, are designed to maximize the space given by populating as much space as possible. In addition, LDCs employ mostly physical laborers, not knowledge workers, so many people don’t choose to shift remotely to home office work.
Societal protection systems, designed to prevent deprivation, hunger, and poverty, are not accessible in the world’s less developed countries. As weeks stretch into months, the long-term impact of lockdown caused an increase of preexisting gender, social, and economic disparities. Limited choices for help and support meant many women and children were subjected to higher levels of abuse. With no income, women were forced to turn to unpaid domestic work to manage the households.
When schools closed, and homeschooling became the norm, it was begrudgingly tolerated in developed countries, but it was an entirely different scenario throughout the LDCs. Females who were pulled from their educational paths will cause a rebound effect for years to come.
Many LDCs rely on external factors, such as tourism, for their livelihood. When the hospitality and tourism industries shut down, their main avenue of funding was gone. Any countries that relied on trade for growth and sustainability will be recovering for years, if at all.