One single topic has dominated the year-2020 –Covid-19. All other events have paled into insignificance in the shadow it cast across the globe. From Brexit in Europe to the atrocities carried out by Islamic fanatics across the globe. From Parliamentary Elections in Sri Lanka to Presidential election in the US, to the antics of US Presidential candidate loser –Trump, to the mighty Indian cricket team being bundled out for a meagre 36 runs during the first test match in Australia, to the death of football genius Diego Maradona, the Coronavirus or Covid-19 has overshadowed them all.
Parliamentary Elections in Sri Lanka were originally scheduled to be held in March 2020, were twice postponed due to a surge in the numbers of people struck down by the virus. However, the Parliamentary Elections were successfully held and regime change occurred. The past regime brought into power with great expectations failed miserably and was unceremoniously dispatched into the dustbins of history.
In the US, sitting president Trump suddenly became aware that elections were upon him. He too, like the authorities in Sri Lanka had not been able to fulfil his election promises. To make matters worse, Trump ignored the dangers posed by the virus.
Despite medical advice, he failed to take simple steps to prevent the spread of the virus which had by this time reached pandemic proportions. To date, over 80,289,800 million people have contracted the virus and more than 1,759,375 have died of the disease worldwide. In the US over 18,325,434 have contracted the virus while over 324,496 have succumbed to it. For Trump, the writing was on the wall.
But unlike the then Sri Lankan regime, Trump attempted to stall the upcoming polls by sleight of hand. To avoid electoral defeat, the US President first suggested postponing elections. He claimed the use on electronic voting machines to avoid large gatherings at polling stations amid the coronavirus, would lead to large-scale voter fraud.
But on certain matters, the US Constitution is ‘written in stone’ and cannot be overturned by Presidential Decree.
Failing in his bid to postpone elections Trump then tried his hand at undermining the electoral process itself. Failing in this effort as well, the world was treated to a spectacle of a sitting US president attempting to overturn an entire election result via appeals to the judicial process. ‘The Banana Republic’ was the term most people were put in mind of and the banana republic this time was the US itself –the nation which coined the phrase.
Even though time and options have now run out, as the idiom says ‘Hope dies hard in the human breast. Trump also hoped the US Supreme Court would uphold his last appeal. But this appeal too, like all others, was unceremoniously thrown out of Court. But the spectacle continues, just a few days ago trump once again voiced his expectation that despite his monumental loss at the election, the US Electoral College would announce him the next president of the US!
O Tempora, O Mores.
Even today though this US President still tries to cling to power, he has shown no concern of the suffering Americans made jobless by the pandemic and has refused to sign a stimulus package which could aid his suffering subjects or the suffering masses worldwide.
Just last week the UN announced the window to prevent famine in Yemen was narrowing. According to the world body, over half the population (16.2 million) of 30 million will be facing crisis levels of food insecurity by mid-2021. However, on the brighter side just days ago multinational pharmacological companies reported they had successfully developed a vaccine against the Coronavirus.
But, as the world rejoices over the development of the vaccine, British charity Oxfam has warned that wealthy nations representing just 13 per cent of the world’s population have already cornered more than half (51 per cent of the promised doses of leading Covid-19 vaccine candidates.
The international agency also warned the same companies simply cannot make enough vaccines for everyone who needs one. Oxfam adds that even in the unlikely event all five vaccines succeed, nearly two thirds (61% of the world’s people will not have a vaccine until at least 2022!
The year 2020 began with news that in Wuhan in China a new strain of the deadly flu had been discovered. A little less than a year later, scientists discovered an antidote or vaccine to combat the disease. This discovery along with the hope that richer nations will share the vaccine with their poorer neighbours is the hope for the year 2021.
A failure to do this would only result in the mutation of the disease and ultimately an inability to bring the virus under control.