COVID-19 and the ecological crisis: What do they have in common?
Scand J Public Health. 2022 Nov 9:14034948221134339. doi: 10.1177/14034948221134339. Online ahead of print.
This lecture transcript is divided in four parts. First, I examine the main public-health strategies in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there are numerous factors capable of explaining national differences in COVID-19 mortality that are not attributable to merits or demerits of governments, I have identified five lethal errors (lack of preparation, misinformation, medicalisation, a policy approach based on a 'laissez-faire' attitude to the virus and social inequity) and four vital actions (testing, tracing, isolating with support, timeliness and immunisation) that best distinguish success or failure in tackling the pandemic. In the second part, I analyse the origin of SARS-CoV-2 and major risk factors for emerging zoonotic diseases (e.g. exploitation of animal wildlife, deforestation, agricultural intensification and climate change) to be addressed to prevent future pandemics. Then, I discuss the interrelationships between the COVID-19 pandemic and the ecological crisis in the context of the so-called neoliberal variant of capitalism. Both crises are largely determined by anthropogenic risk factors influenced by a model of economic development that prioritises infinite economic growth, free trade and a global self-regulating market over any other values of society (including human survival). An alternative economic approach, capable of creating a new balance between the health of humans, animals, and the environment (by modifying their structural drivers), is the most important antidote against new spillovers and climate change. It is the humanitarian immune response we need to protect global health from future pandemics and ecological collapse.
PMID:36349518 | DOI:10.1177/14034948221134339