11 July 2024

Headlines all over the world in 2021 do not give the coronavirus the credit it deserves. Expression of awe and show of panic is seasonal at best, meaning that whenever infection and death numbers were slowing down, questionable human traits resurfaced to takeover and attention immediately returned to how to get political rivals out of the way and how the usual way of making money can be resumed.

The virus, equally embattled and diehard, must be hoping that the same happens in 2022, because it must have counted on human conflicts, be it business or political, preventing human beings’ end game. Defiant as humans have been in the second year of the global pandemic, cluelessness remains the chief characteristic, the shrink in the armor that the virus can exploit and break through. As long as the world’s greatest superpowers are still quarreling over Ukraine instead of working together to create a perfect vaccine or perfect pill, the coronavirus, cornered by increasing vaccination and emergence of supposedly effective pills, can be forgiven for thinking that it still has a good chance.

To human beings, 2021 has been a year of fighting blind, all the while promoting rhetoric that the virus is the greatest enemy. If 2020 introduced one of mankind’s greatest scourges onto the center stage, 2021 reaffirmed that it could only send the biggest flaw of the predominant species _ the embedded urge to pursue hegemony at all costs _ into temporary hiding.

Delta and Omicron have worked as a team and made headlines that reflected what they should and mustdo, which is to find hosts and infect them. The United States and China have made headlines that reflected anything but, quarreling over who brought the virus to the world and, in the process, killing the possibility of them working together scientifically, medically, and logistically. Then there have been the issues like Ukraine, Hong Kong, world conferences on democracy, and finding villains of climate change that spilt America, China, the European Union, and Russia even more.

Thailand unveils plans to cope with Omicron COVID variant outbreak

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has unveiled plans to cope with a potential outbreak of the COVID-19 Omicron variant next year, including the reactivation of the home isolation program, as the main way to accommodate the infected, and community isolation facilities in Bangkok to shelter infected children, said Dr. Somsak Akksilp, director-general of Medical Services Department, today (Monday).

There have also been the American troop pullout from Afghanistan, the Cryptocurrency obsession, the worsening Democrat-Republican division, and the continued Huawei controversy. Life has to go on, as they say, but all the mentioned issues have reaffirmed the bad traits of dominance and wealth pursuits and have distracted human beings at a time when the focus must be exclusively on the coronavirus and the genuine human unity.

When headlines returned to the pandemic, “the third shot” became the buzz word, raising commercial, ethical, and scientific questions and the world public was left confused over whether they should believe the World Health Organisation’s vaccine apartheid” warning or follow the rich, western countries’ scrambling for the “booster”. Was seeking the third dose a smart move, or was it an act of selfishness, or was it simply a reflection of human naivety because hoarding or imbalanced vaccination would only send the coronavirus elsewhere and come back stronger?

In December 2019, much of the world was only vaguely aware of an unknown virus bothering China. In December last year, there was no doubt the pandemic was for real and would seriously affect the whole world. This December, everyone has been bruised. Humans are galvanized this time, however. But we are clueless still.

2021 has asked tough, ultimate questions of everyone, every government, every country, big or small, rich or poor, “democratic” or “dictatorial”. Life or money? Businesses or safety? Political power or true sacrifices in the face of a common, gigantic and menacing enemy? Is democracy good or bad at controlling the pandemic? Does China, with its much-criticized political system, just get lucky with COVID-19? The list of soul-searching inquiries goes on and on.

2022 is arriving with most, if not all, of those questions remaining unanswered. Health experts say human science can’t still see through the coronavirus, and, they believe, that is probably why 2021 has been a year of COVID-19 roller-coaster, continually alternating between new hope and resumed doom and gloom. However, in every war, knowing oneself inside and out is as important as knowing the enemy.

Heroism of health personnel has remained the brightest shining light for human beings in 2021. To most others, the new year will be a year of trying again. It should also, as some may say, be a year of trying to do it right.

by Tulsathit Taptim