Tackling the coronavirus pandemic has been a worldwide challenge and, at this time, has led to over 4 million deaths around the globe, over 612,000 in the US alone. In comparison, the deadly H1N1 virus that ravaged the world as the “Spanish flu” from 1918 to 1920 led to an estimated 50 million deaths, which was nearly a third of the world’s population at that time. There were no vaccinations, anti-viral treatments, or even antibiotics for the treatment of secondary infections.
In the early 1900s, scientific knowledge of viruses was far inferior to the present understanding. The first virus is known to infect humans was the yellow fever virus in 1901. The scientists who tried to determine the cause of the “Spanish flu” while infecting the world were unsuccessful. Today, we are incredibly fortunate to have an immense level of knowledge of the coronavirus. This includes the understanding that as long as the virus continues to spread, most readily among unvaccinated people, it has the opportunity to change/mutate and become more infectious and deadly—the science community studies and tracks these changes. In turn, public health measures to contain illnesses and deaths are modified according to the changing virus/science.
Humanity’s ability to deal with pandemics and other worldwide devastations relies on scientific knowledge. Still, it is also dependent on the public’s scientific literacy, the effective distribution of accurate fact-based information (including the unfortunate challenge of stifling elevated science illiterate voices), and society’s willingness to function on behalf of the greater good. Usually, those who are most fearful or resistant to science-based circumstances are not well informed on science. By honoring one another’s gifts, including scientific knowledge, fears diminish, and respectful, informed decisions are made. The faster everyone is vaccinated, the fewer deaths, the less chance of further mutations, the more protection for our children, and the more peace we will share.
Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~6 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work