COVID-19 Extraordinary Session

COVID-19: Why were we unprepared? What can we learn from this global epidemic to avoid potential crisis (e.g. in climate system)?

In the wake of the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2015, Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, said “We were not prepared for the next epidemic… we need a response system with an ability to mobilize hundreds of thousands of health workers. If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war – not missiles, but microbes… Part of the reason is we have invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents, but we have actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic.… We’re not ready for the next epidemic”*. Indeed, in 2019 about 52% of US Federal Budget was assigned to the ministry of defence only, while only 2% was assigned to science. In Germany, it was 12% for military and 5% for education and research (including all grades, fields and subfields). The world military expenditure approaches $2.0 trillion per year. However, at facing a non-traditional enemy like viruses and climate catastrophes all these investments have proven their fail to protect the human being.

The new world knows no boundaries when it comes to disease outbreaks (due to the high mobility and transport of people and goods) or when it comes to climate crises. COVID-19 has proven our lack of basic knowledge we need for our survival struggle in this new world. The problem is not limited to the field of microbiology or virology. The current crisis, however, is an alarm to what we may suffer in future (e.g. from the climate system). We have a big impact on our ecosystem. For example, the satellite charts show a drop in CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) levels upon the shutdown of manufactures and air traffic during the crisis, as will be demonstrated in the session. In this session, we will take the advantage of ECONOS being gathering leading international scientists in physics, chemistry, biology, biomedicine and atmosphere to activate a brain storming on the potential threats versus our slow progress in basic understanding of our bio-, hydro-, and atmosphere. We will conclude with the conference recommendations to governments and people. We will discuss the question: “will we wait until the next global crisis to take an action?”

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