No country expected a pandemic to hit in 2020. The World Health Organization, virologists, and epidemiologists didn’t see the contagion coming either. More than two years later, the origins of the coronavirus still remain a mystery, though it was first detected in a vet market in Wuhan, China. Back in 2020, the world’s response to the virus was slow and faltering.
The WHO delayed calling it a pandemic for almost two months by which time it had become a full-blown health emergency that disrupted lives and livelihoods. Today, as the world recovers and limps back to normalcy, it’s disturbing that the origins of the virus remain unclear.
Scientists are yet to prove that the virus is zoonotic in nature, meaning it jumped from an animal to humans. Fingers have been pointed at the humble bat. Some say there was an intermediary, like the pangolin or even a snake. Evidence, however, is scant as opinions abound.
The mystery lingers, giving vent to conspiracy theories, misinformation and fake news. But the silver lining of this crisis is that governments, health bodies and pharmaceutical companies are better prepared to deal with future pandemics and other challenges that come their way. Much research has gone into the nature of the virus and a variety of vaccines have been developed.
Closer home, a United Nations report says the UAE is one of the better-prepared nations to combat multiple crises. These include disasters caused by climate change. There’s conflict brewing which has hit production and supplies of food and other essentials. In fact, the world may be heading towards a perfect storm, or a storm of crises is barreling towards us.
Here, it’s comforting that the UAE is one of the best-prepared countries to handle risks and challenges in the future, according to a report released by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) and the United Nations Development Program. The experience of containing the pandemic has given response teams in the country the confidence to deal with emerging threats with a cool and strategic head.
The country’s health and emergency response systems are in a constant state of high alert. Nothing is left to chance and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority should be commended for rapidly bringing Covid cases under control. Tracing, tracking, treating and vaccination mechanisms were put in place quickly.
Today the UAE is the most vaccinated country in the world with an arsenal of vaccines making it to people’s arms. Health infrastructure has been ramped up, and a recent report said the country’s vaccination campaign prevented more than 15,000 deaths.
Meanwhile, the country is developing its tech sector to keep the wheels of industry running even in the worst of times. It is investing heavily in research and development across sectors while keeping the focus on sustainability as it diversifies its economy beyond oil. It’s also sewing up bilateral trade partnerships to ensure the supply of essentials. The leadership believes economic security is vital for robust recovery and growth. The UAE is in safe hands, thanks to the foresight of the leaders.
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According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), between 2015 and 2020, the rate of global deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year