We all think and dream about life after corona, when they have found some vaccine to protect us and some treatment to cure us if we get sick. Today, that seems far away, or at least, we don’t know when it will be, maybe early in 2021 or later in the year. Till now, though, the number of people infected by the disease keeps going up worldwide, but with variations from continent to continent, country to country, even within countries, and in groups. When the medicines come for cure and vaccination, we hope that they will not be too expensive.

Currently, tens of thousands of researchers and other staff work in a large number of institutes are trying to find medicines that can reduce suffering of infected patients, boost their immune system, fight the disease, and be able to recover fully. Also, one or more vaccines are needed to prevent people from being infected and fall sick. Worldwide, there are many institutes working as fast as they can with experiments and tests to develop medicines. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) a Norwegian company, has suggested that out of all the important research institutes and programmes, there are probably only just a few dozen ones that are likely to develop relevant medicines, and out of them only a handful that are likely to succeed and find effective medicines for treatment and vaccination that will go into mass production. I am sure all of them send quiet prayers to the Almighty that they may succeed! They want to discover the right medicines that can help humanity stop the corona pandemic worldwide. In addition to that noble task, the researchers and their employers are after fame and riches, yes, indeed the latter, too.

For a second again, let me go back to my home country, where the Director-General of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NFI), Dr. Camilla Stoltenberg, has said that she sees the corona pandemic only to be one of many epidemics and pandemics in our time. She has recalled that it isn’t the first one, referring to other epidemics in recent decades, including HIV/AIDS, SARS, Ebola, and others. She also believes that other epidemics will come in future, as they do every decade. She has said that although the corona pandemic is nasty, and it’s far from over, it can be likened to a ‘dress rehearsal’ rather than a ‘premier performance’. She warns that we must be prepared for other epidemics to come even more unpredictable and deadly than the current one. That means that we must not only focus our research and response on the corona pandemic and COVID-19, but on broader issues related to the origins, developments and spreads of many new communicable diseases; we must focus on prevention of diseases and stopping viruses from developing, mutating and spreading.

For a long time, many scientists in human and veterinary sciences, biology, environmental sciences, and other fields, have reminded us of the fragility of the world we live in. We have been, and still continue to be careless exploiters of nature, making us more vulnerable than before. For example, the increased use and overuse of pesticides in agriculture have been discussed; also, the increased use of medicines on animals has been discussed. In food production, both as regards plans and animals, the use of chemicals is alarmingly high, leading to resistance to antibiotics, spreading to human beings. Medicines that in the past could cure diseases and be used for vaccines may simply not have the expected power, or have any affect at all.

I do not draw attention to these issues to make us more worrisome and less optimist. I take it up so that we can be realistic. In our time, there are many groups, especially environmentalists and others who discuss such issues. In accordance with the holy books, religious groups warn that we human beings are not good custodians and stewards of the earth. People continue to fight for monetary profits and material goods, exploiting nature beyond its sustainability. Even people fall victims along the road, and that is often the case in our super capitalist world. In the Bible’s Old Testament, these issues are taken up as people have come to worship the ‘golden calf’, notably worldly riches rather than God. (Exodus 32)

We are on the way to stopping the current corona plague. I believe strongly in the sciences of our time, and I hope that within half a year, or a whole year, there will be medicines that can cure people and that a vaccine, too, may be found. We are nearing that time. However, I also believe that we must change our ways of thinking about virus control and diseases so that we don’t continue down the road of growing resistance to antibiotics, and a reverse of the major developments in medicine especially in the last hundred years. We must become more realistic about the vulnerability and fragility of nature and humankind.

A quote from William Shakespeare (1564-1616) may come in handy: “A fool thinks himself wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool”; and a wise man said: “The more I learn, the less I know”. The Chinese philosopher Confucius, who lived in the fifth century BC, said: “True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.”

Today’s scientists know all this, indeed those who humbly work tirelessly and under time pressure to stop the current Corona pandemic, and also to protect us better against future epidemics and pandemics. Let all of us, learned and laymen, do what we can, this time in the specific situation we now face, and generally and as regards future diseases and development issues, so that the world can become a sustainable and safer place for all, not only for those who have money and can buy cure, vaccine and health, but for every human being, as we remind each other that we are all equal in the eyes of God.