Coronavirus, Economy, and National Security:
Prominent health experts believe that a new lineage of coronavirus likely originated in bats or pangolins. The first transmission to humans was in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. By the time, when the first coronavirus reported approximately 5 million people had left the city across China and the World. Since then, the virus has mostly spread through person-to-person contact.
Coronavirus has disclosed the world health care system. It has been eight months long since the coronavirus outbreak, we do not have a vaccine to cure the disease. Albeit there is an on-going vaccine race, thankfully not an arms race, among countries. If cooperation were preferred, it would have become more workable and productive, and perhaps would have saved thousands of lives. So far 15.5 million people have been diagnosed, and 633000 death has occurred globally. Hitherto countries have developed military might as a concern of national security.
It is the 21st century, and we should enhance human security as, by any chance, non-traditional threats would be more frequent in the future, because of mounting globalization and climate change. According to Harvard University research, coronavirus pandemic would end by the end of this year or spring of next year. Social distancing would continue to take place until 2023.
Therefore, states should review the national security policy and prioritize the health affairs and services over the military for the people, especially developing countries and under developing countries. According to World Bank statistics, Global health expenditures stand at 9.896 (% of GDP) and military expenditures at 2.141 (% of GDP).
It makes a 6% difference, although it is a positive development this difference is contributed by the United States, allocate 18% of its GDP, and the European Union. Developing and Under Developing countries more likely succumbed to such non-traditional threats, resulting in a huge loss of economy and unemployment.
For example, India after the U.S worst hit by a coronavirus. India spends 2.49 (% of GDP) on the military in contrast to 1.28 (% of GDP) on the health care system and makes her more vulnerable to a pandemic. On the other hand, Pakistan’s military expenditures stand at 4.025 (% of GDP) while spends less than 1 percent.
After the pandemic:
Countries with huge economies like U.S and Italy could not bear the one-month long lockdown, compare to that South Korea opted for the ‘selective lockdown’ because of the early prediction of catastrophic consequences. Such lockdown would be more disastrous for countries with no adequate health care system at all. India instantly lockdown the whole country without considering the consequences.
Compare to India, Pakistan went for ‘smart lockdown’ and succeeded in stabilizing its falling economy by introducing relief packages to the people, Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and for Construction economy. Countries have shifted the material economic policy to the digital economy and prioritizing the health care system. The pre-coronavirus pandemic world was moving steadily towards digitization, but coronavirus speeds up this process.
From education to businesses, executives adopted an online system and it proved more suitable in the future to overcome such threats. China’s stable economy is because of its early digitization. American e-commerce giant Amazon reported $75.45bn in the first three months of the year-over $33m an hour, the surge in sales, 26% higher than the same time last year. Coronavirus has unveiled on us that no one would help in those difficult times.
European Union member countries have closedown the so-called Visa-free zone for the first time in decades. When Italy asked the EU member countries for help, the other countries refused to send them medical supplies, not even one stepped out to help.
Notwithstanding the dependency of today’s world on each other, countries did not come out for others to help. It is time to decide what is needed. Pakistan should prefer health technology and the digital economy for the sake of its people and its survival in this chaotic world.
Written by: Usman Ali