More than 248 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 5 million have died, according to a Reuters tally.
From herpes and legionnaires’ disease in the 1970s, to AIDS, Ebola, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and now Covid-19, contagious diseases continue to threaten and disrupt human populations. The COVID‑19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March.
Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences – the immune system – to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. After vaccination, if the body is later exposed to those disease-causing germs, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness. As of 3 June 2021, WHO has evaluated that the following vaccines against COVID-19 have met the necessary criteria for safety and efficacy: AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine; Johnson and Johnson; Moderna; Pfizer/BionTech; Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Since it started vaccine mass production early this year, China has sent out over 405 million vaccine doses—primarily Sinopharm, CanSino, and Sinovac—to countries everywhere through bilateral agreements via donations and loans. In terms of absolute numbers, the top recipients of Chinese vaccine doses are (including placed orders) – Indonesia (140.5 M), Brazil (100 M), Turkey (100 M), Mexico (67 M), and Pakistan (65.6 M). The Asia-Pacific region continues to be its biggest beneficiary, followed by Latin America.
China has grown into a scientific leader in competition with the US and UK with nine vaccines in Phase-3 testing when very few countries have prepared even one. But despite such a display of prowess, its leading vaccines provide relatively low protection compared to their American and European counterparts. Countries such as Seychelles, Bahrain, Mongolia, Chile, etc., who used Chinese vaccines extensively, saw a dangerous second wave. According to Western media, the blame goes to Chinese vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac.
The COVID-19 pandemic has struck at the core of globalisation, paralysing connectivity and causing massive disruption in the international order that is unprecedented since the Second World War. By disrupting connectivity and cooperation amongst nations, the pandemic has severely affected the world economy, especially the industries that depend critically on connectivity, including aviation, tourism, trade and investment.
This first and foremost, the pandemic is a health crisis, as it sickens and kills humans. In the process, it overwhelmed, or threatened to, national health care systems. As a result and in a second instance, states all over the world imposed various types of measures restricting human mobility in order to reduce transmission and maintain the operationality of these health care systems. In a third instance, economic activity was depressed as a consequence of this reduced mobility.
To be sure, the growth of digital innovation has offset this disruption to some extent, contributing to the development of new platforms to fill the gap in connectivity. The mushrooming of digital applications to facilitate virtual meetings and conferences have ensured people-to-people connectivity, even at a time of social distancing. As a subset of global connectivity, the role played by national and regional connectivity has been crucial, promoted and nurtured by both nations and regional organisations.
Recent studies point to China for the origin of this pandemic, then delaying the vital information about it’s seriousness from the world and finally managed the consequences to it’s own advantage. China has made full efforts to gain economic and geopolitical advantage of this event. “It is possible to turn the crisis into an opportunity — to increase the trust and the dependence of all countries around the world of ‘Made in China,’” Han Jian, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and director of the Ministry of Civil Affairs’s China Industrial Economics Association wrote.
Experts point out that pandemic accelerated the earlier geopolitical trends while also lead to new trends. China’s ‘rise’ has been a long time in the making. China’s strategy is being helped by the fact that because it was the first country to deal with coronavirus, the first country to start recovering from it and is now ahead of most of the world in terms of containment and recovery. China has since managed to contain the outbreak, with life largely returning to normal in recent months. Beijing is using the downturn in Western economies to its benefits by seek out more foreign direct investment, and seize market share in critical industries.
Public attitudes toward China have turned sharply sour over the past year, according to a new report published on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, amid widespread criticism of China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. While the pandemic might have continued a trend of hostility between China and the United States, it heralded a new diplomatic era between China and the European Union.
Since the coronavirus began the major stock market exchanges have taken large hit and lost nearly one third of the global market cap.The safe distancing and locldown introduced by countries are also resulting in big losses to economy buisness and employment. The drop comes as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and Europe rise, prompting renewed shutdowns by Europe and sparking fears of a slowdown in activity that could derail the economic recovery from the earlier shutdown.
The pandemic is expected to plunge most countries into recession in 2020, with per capita income contracting in the largest fraction of countries globally since 1870. Advanced economies are projected to shrink 7 percent. That weakness will spill over to the outlook for emerging market and developing economies, who are forecast to contract by 2.5 percent as they cope with their own domestic outbreaks of the virus.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a global shock ‘like no other’, involving simultaneous disruptions to both supply and demand in an interconnected world economy. On the supply side, infections reduce labour supply and productivity, while lockdowns, business closures, and social distancing also cause supply disruptions. On the demand side, layoffs and the loss of income (from morbidity, quarantines, and unemployment) and worsened economic prospects reduce household consumption and firms’ investment.
The baseline forecast envisions a 5.2 percent contraction in global GDP in 2020, using market exchange rate weights—the deepest global recession in decades, despite the extraordinary efforts of governments to counter the downturn with fiscal and monetary policy support, according to World bank. Over the longer horizon, the deep recessions triggered by the pandemic are expected to leave lasting scars through lower investment, an erosion of human capital through lost work and schooling, and fragmentation of global trade and supply linkages
Some folks including politicians in both the U.S. and China have suggested that the COVID-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) that’s causing the pandemic may actually be a bioweapon that was manufactured in a lab. with President Donald Trump referring to SARS-CoV2 as the “Chinese Virus. ” Tom cotton noted that Wuhan has China’s only biosafety level-four super laboratory that works with the world’s most deadly pathogens to include, yes, coronavirus. China hitting back alleged that U.S. Army was responsible for the outbreak of a novel coronavirus, suggesting that COVID-19 was developed as a genetically engineered bioweapon, either intentionally or accidentally planted by U.S. military personnel in the city of Wuhan. An official of the Chinese Foreign Ministry tweeted support for a controversial article that suggested the COVID-19 originated in the United States.
Despite the unknowns, scientists have predicted for decades the potential for a global pandemic originating in China. This is due to the country’s previous disease outbreaks caused by coronaviruses and influenza, high levels of biodiversity and conducive climate, and dense populations coexisting with transmitters of zoonotic diseases. In the piece, David M. Morens, M.D. and Peter Daszak, Ph.D. from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Jeffery K. Taubenberger, M.D., Ph.D. wrote: “Of course, scientists tell us that SARS-CoV-2 did not escape from a jar: RNA sequences closely resemble those of viruses that silently circulate in bats, and epidemiologic information implicates a bat-origin virus infecting unidentified animal species sold in China’s live-animal markets.”
Conspiracy theories about the source of disease outbreaks gain significant traction because of the dual-use nature of biodefense research. Disinformation campaigns exploit a very fine line that exists between a biodefense program and an offensive biological weapons program. Daily Mail found that Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook coronavirus experiments on bats – funded by a $3.7 million grant from the US government. These bats were captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan the same area, the sequencing of the Covid-19 genome also traced it to bats from Yunnan’s caves. Senior Government sources said that while ‘the balance of scientific advice’ was still that the deadly virus was first transmitted to humans from a live animal market in Wuhan, an accident at the laboratory in the Chinese city was ‘no longer being discounted’. One of lessons for all is that both biodefence programs as well as biological weapons development programs serve as dual edge sword and can easily get out of control and become threat to the whole world.
Meanwhile China’s strategy is now being counteracted by another strategy intiated with Japan planning to pull its industry out of China. The subsidies and direct loans include 220 billion yen ($2 billion) for companies shifting production back to Japan and 23.5 billion yen for those seeking to move production to other countries, according to details of the plan posted online. This comes at a time when U.S. companies are leaving, too, even though there is no official push to do so.
China will now looking to buy stocks from these countries which are going to gain adavnatage from decision to shift away from china. Recently China’s central bank has bought 1.01 per cent stake in Inian Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) after HDFC shares fell nearly 40 per cent this year. According to the shareholding disclosures for the March quarter, People’s Bank of China held 1.75 crore shares of India’s biggest housing mortgage lender. The Chinese investment and acquisitions in the tech sector hold immense implications for India’s diplomacy, trade strategy, and security. Due to the rising trade war tensions between the United States (US) and China, several South Korean companies might consider moving their units from the communist nation to India, The Times of India reported in April 2020. According to the report, the Korean consulate in Indian city of Chennai has been working with many requests from their companies with established units in China. While, some are still in their preliminary stages, others have reached the advanced stages of discussion.
Military role and Impact
China has taken a sudden turn toward “gross aggression” against its neighbours, including India, and in the Indo-Pacific, a senior administration official said after the conclusion of the Quad ministerial in Tokyo, wherein the leaders vowed to coordinate in ensuring peace and stability of the strategically vital region. India and China are locked in a nearly five-month-long border standoff in eastern Ladakh China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its man-made islands in the past few years. In June, India banned more than 60 Chinese apps (including TikTok) from its territory following a military clash between the two states. A month later, the United States followed suit.
It is also affecting military preparedness, Pentagon has taken steps to control the spread of the virus within the services, including stopping the movement of troops between installations worldwide and canceling training exercises and even delaying some basic training for recruits. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the army to carry out drills designed to increase its readiness to fight the novel coronavirus if necessary, the Defence Ministry said. The Defence Ministry said in a statement that the drills, to be carried out from March 25-28, would include specialist medical units and nuclear, biological and chemical protection troops.
On the other hand China’s military is using this oppurtunity to enhance it’s control over South China sea and furthering it’s belt and Road initiative. China’s state-controlled Global Times reported that “training for war preparedness will not be stopped even in the middle of the covid-19 epidemic.” Reports about PLA’s resuming operations in the South China Sea with stories on large-scale naval exercises and the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat. In the last month, China has invaded Taiwanese airspace, ran military exercises across the Taiwan Strait, and damaged a Taiwanese Coast Guard vessel during harassment by a Chinese speedboat.
India and Australia have stepped up bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and have concluded nine arrangements including Mutual Logistics Support for their militaries amid China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific region. In a significant development, the two sides also announced a Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region that would result in enhanced cooperation in the maritime domain.
The China-India stand-off in Eastern Ladakh is in at least five key areas where India and China have had traditional differences on the perception of the Line of Actual Control or LAC in the region. The present tension between the two sides came into sharp focus when reports of skirmishes between the soldiers of both sides were reported in the Pangong Lake region in May 202..Since the clashes in the Pangong Lake, there have been multiple reports of intrusions by Chinese infantry soldiers in areas which include Demchok to the South, the Fingers region on the Eastern banks of the high-altitude Pangong Lake, the Galwan River basin and more recently the Gogra post.
Coronavirus degrades military capability as being experienced by US Naval feet, of it’s 11 aircraft carriers the crew in three of the aircraft cariers are reported to have been affected. Military is also taking important part in its fight and control. It is also going to affect military in many other ways, as the massive aid being poured by different countries to fight this pandemic will drain many world economies and will certainly impact future military budgets and preparedness. Another effect that it will also shift to rethinking of threat assessment which will shift from space and cyber till now to more towards Biological threats. Therefore, the military budgets are expected to be more forcussed towards mitigating Biological threats. Militaries have laready actively looking for new urgent solutions developing solutions for covid and future pandemics. For example, Military needs to develop protective gear for itself to be able to fight pandemics.
Pandemics may threaten both internal and external national security – the physical threat to U.S. citizens in terms of morbidity and mortality, and the decreased effectiveness of U.S. armed forces in protecting those citizens from external threats. The economic, political or social turmoil in adversary country is also potential threat. Eliminating pandemic outbreaks and mitigating the impact of a potential high threat biological agent release are national security priorities, according to DARPA. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) had launched the Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program as early in 2017, with the eventual goal of halting the spread of any infectious disease outbreak before it can escalate into a pandemic. The goal of the Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program is to develop an integrated capability to deliver pandemic prevention countermeasures to humans in <60 days. State-of-the-art medical countermeasures often take many months or even years to develop, produce, distribute, and administer. The envisioned P3 platform would cut response time to weeks and stay within the window of relevance for containing an outbreak.
Defense Production/manufacturing facilities and supply chains are also getting affected. Companies that are located in countries badly affected by the virus or those that are dependent on supply chains located in affected countries are the immediate victims of the pandemic.
A case in point is Fincantieri of Italy, which has currently suspended its ship building operations until March 29, 2020.
Every country is now looking to develop new technological solutions to control the ongoing crisis as as prventing a resurgence. This include at-scale testing, sophisticated real-time surveillance, rigorous contact tracing, and rapid, targeted quarantine to isolate cases and contacts. This mix of tools is how Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan have rapidly contained COVID-19. An antibody test would be a powerful tool in this arsenal, since it would show which people are at risk and which aren’t.
Telemedicine has been useful to prevent many in flocking to hospitals and further enhance the risk exposure to the infection. In Singapore, more than a million people have used a popular telehealth app called -MaNaDr, founded by family physician Dr. Siaw Tung Yeng, for virtual visits; 20% of the physicians in the island country offer some level of service via the app. In an effort to control escalating cases of coronavirus there, people with symptoms are getting prescreened by physicians on MaNaDr and advised to stay home if they don’t need intensive care
AI is being used to fight the virus on all fronts, from screening and diagnosis to containment and drug development. With its ability to learn quickly from data relating to the novel coronavirus, AI saves human beings time in sequencing the genome of Sars-CoV-2, designing lab tests, analysing CAT scans and making new vaccines. In a pandemic, time is of the essence. Because Covid-19 cases increase exponentially, each day saved may mean hundreds or thousands of lives saved. Using AI Chinese scientists sequenced the genome of noval coronavirus Sars-CoV-2, published it and shared it with researchers around the world in early January, weeks after the first cases appeared in Wuhan.
Besides lab tests, CAT scans of lungs are also an effective way to detect signs of coronavirus infection. During an epidemic, radiologists might be overwhelmed by the thousands of scans they have to inspect every day. In China, AI stepped up. Damo Academy trained an AI system using data from thousands of confirmed cases. The resulting diagnosis system was able to detect coronavirus cases with an accuracy of up to 96 per cent. AI Chatbots reduce the pressure on hospital and government personnel by automatically answering queries from members of the public, and even advising individuals about whether they need to undergo screening in hospital or stay at home for a 14-day quarantine. In Shanghai and other cities, chatbots call people deemed at high risk and help monitor the virus’ spread.
US has already been developed and fielded some of the technologies such as telemedicine solutions and rule-based ventilators that follow narrow guidelines and protocols. American scientists are using gene sequencing, genetic analysis and online tools such as Nextstrain to trace the evolution and path of the outbreak and identify its source in different regions in the U.S. The United States is also using machine learning and other new tools to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. AbCellera, a Canadian company, in partnership with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, has developed a new platform for producing field-ready medical countermeasures within 60 days of isolation of a novel virus. They’ve already begun work on a potential treatment for COVID-19 to enter clinical trials by the summer.
The drones have been employed extensively from enforcing social distancing guidelines, finding suspects to delivering essentials. New York Times reported that Britain’s police force has been using drones to capture footage of people flouting the country’s social distancing guidelines — and then tweeting it out. Global Times News, a state-controlled news outlet, reported in January that police in parts of Taizhou, an eastern city of 6 million, has been using drones equipped with loudspeakers to deter people from congregating. The Chinese government has been using drones equipped with thermal sensors to find sick people walking around in public places, according to this Wall Street Journal article from March 10. Government Drones which were detecting forest fires are now scanning the population to find people, potentially infected with COVID-19, who should not be out and about.
Since robots are immune to infection, the drone delivery companies have stepped up to the challenge to get more robots out in force to deliver e.g. medical supplies within healthcare environments. Robots are also proving to be valuable when delivering essential items to people who shop and purchase online and are quarantined at home. Meituan Dianping, a delivery app, ramped up their “contactless delivery” options through autonomous vehicles and robots. Shenzhen-based startup Pudu Technology aimed to reduce cross-infection by implementing home delivery of drugs and meals via robot.
Russia is employing facial-recognition system for fighting coronavirus at massive scale. Moscow police claihattmed to have caught and fined 200 people who violated quarantine and self-isolation using facial recognition and a 170,000-camera system. According to a Russian media report some of the alleged violators who were fined had been outside for less than half a minute before they were picked up by a camera. The system has also been used to analyze the social networks of those who have or are suspected of having coronavirus. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin described in his official blog how municipal authorities tracked a Chinese woman who flew to the city from Beijing back in February.
Pakistan’s intelligence services are deploying secretive surveillance technology used to locate terrorists to track coronavirus patients and the people they come into contact with.Details about the project have not been released, but two officials told AFP that intelligence services are using geofencing and phone-monitoring systems that ordinarily are employed to hunt high-value targets including homegrown and foreign terrorists. Geofencing, a discreet tracking system that alerts authorities when someone leaves a specific geographic area, has helped officials monitor neighborhoods on lockdown. Authorities are also listening in to the calls of Covid-19 patients to monitor whether their contacts are talking about having symptoms. “The trace-and-track system basically helps us track the mobile phones of corona patients as well as anyone they get in touch with before or after their disappearance,” an intelligence official said.
Israel has developed a unique sticker, developed for military purposes, will upgrade face masks and protect medical staff. National Emergency Team in the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), headed by Brig. Gen. (Res.), Dr. Dani Gold, has decided to adopt the development made by Prof. Eyal Zussman of the Technion’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering – a unique sticker that may be attached to a face mask, in order to increase its protective capabilities.
COVID has hit supply chains in every industry worldwide. Protectionism has increased transaction costs, making previously established arrangements uneconomical. In some cases, specific trade sanctions have made it impossible for producers to maintain relationships with suppliers, especially with respect to high technology goods.
The vulnerability of the defense industry to cyberattack has also increased during the pandemic. And as in-person interactions decline relative to digital communications, attackers have a greater surface area to probe and exploit. The obstacles to trade created by COVID-19 have already disrupted production schedules for some military equipment.
According to experts, American defense industry is assessing the way forward under the new coronavirus pandemic. The lack of workers are causing temporary halt to production work like in F-35 production spots in Italy and Japan — as well as economic impacts. On the other hand, China has announced the ramping up of military industries in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The success of drones will further boost the drone industry, as companies are fast-tracking the “testing” of robots and drones in public as officials seek out the most expedient and safe way to grapple with the outbreak and limit contamination and spread of the virus. When it comes to clinical care, robots can play important roles in disease prevention, diagnosis and screening, and patient care. Robots have already been widely deployed to disinfect hospitals and other public spaces either using UV light that kills bugs or by repurposing agricultural robots and drones to spray disinfectant, reducing the exposure of cleaning staff to potentially contaminated surfaces.
The coronavirus fight has focused on adding acute-care capacity, providing ventilators, and building stocks of other critical medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment. On the industry front, the drugs and synthetic biology industry will also get massive boost in years to come. Northwestern University (@NorthwesternU )and ShanghaiTech University (@ShanghaiTechUni) have claimed that they have used cell-free synthetic biology to help them produce a drug that has proven effective in obliterating SARS-CoV in cellular cultures. The team hopes that the drug might also be effective in the fight against SARS’s close genetic cousin, the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). According to the researchers, it has produced a “promising” molecule called valinomycin in a cell-free system. “Because we use cell-free systems, we can optimise production faster than in cells to further increase yields,” said Northwestern’s Michael Jewett, who co-led the study. “For example, pathway optimization cycles take days rather than weeks or months, and this speed could be ever so important when dealing with a pandemic like the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.”
Health industry is employing Telemedicine, supported by robots, which makes it possible for medical professionals to communicate with patients remotely and acquire vital patient information saving time and allowing possibly contagious patients to stay confined. At the Wuchang field hospital, a ward was staffed with 5G-powered robots to not only help alleviate the strain on human personnel but to contain the contagion.
The AI companies already on high growth will be further get boost. AI is being used to fight the virus on all fronts, from screening and diagnosis to containment and drug development. The increasing employment of military to fight coronavirus will drive militaries in investing to develop capability to fight the coronavirus and developing tactics and training solutions.