Pandemic vs. Epidemic Essay Example
Health has always been of great concern in the lives of individuals. In an attempt to maintain and sustain longer life, improved vigor and to avoid becoming susceptible to health-related complications such as lifestyle and hereditary diseases or other associated risks, a shift towards a healthier lifestyle has always been encouraged.
Despite concerted attempts to encourage good health, some areas which can affect one’s health remain out of anyone’s control. Pandemics and epidemics are described as one of these unnatural occurrences that cannot be controlled.
Rapid worldwide spread, overload of health care systems and economic and social disruption are defined as characteristics of pandemics.
Pandemics and epidemics, although clearly varying in nature and characteristics continues to pose a threat to life and economies on a global scale.
In spite of great advances in the field of medicine, diseases, especially infectious communicable diseases remain a considerable threat to societies both developed and underdeveloped alike.
In order to fully understand and explain what are pandemics and epidemics respectively, a greater analysis and focus needs to be placed into not only understanding what pandemics and epidemics are but also understanding what unifies them and equally so differentiates them.
Historically, both pandemics and epidemics have been a pestilence to human development the earliest records being traced back to was early as AD541-542 with the plague of Justinian to as recently as 2020 with the Corona Virus (Covid19) pandemic which is still currently raving countries, societies and the general way of life around the globe. Notwithstanding, the progress in the fields of medicine and technology, the scourge of pandemics and epidemics will continually hamper the growth of humankind for generations to come. “The more civilized humans become, the more likely pandemics become.” (N.A, 2020)
Even with a wealth of information, the burning question remains. What are pandemics and epidemics?
According to a researched article, “a pandemic is a global outbreak of disease.” (Hickok, 2020) other research articles further states “it happens when an infection of bacterium or virus becomes capable of spreading wildly and rapidly.” (Felman, 2020) A key characteristic that was noted about a pandemic is the ease of spread from one person to another that can cause severe illness.
An epidemic in contrast, is a disease that “remains limited to one city, region or country.” (Felman, 2020)
It is worthy of mention that both pandemics and epidemics are diseases, however what differentiates their classification is that epidemics are thought to be confined to one city, region or country, while a pandemic spread beyond national geographic confines leading to possible worldwide infection. That is to say, epidemics are contained within the focus geographical area while pandemics is the progression to epidemics spread out of its geographic area at an alarming rate and as such difficult to contain.
As mentioned in the thesis of the presentation, there are several distinctive characteristics of a pandemic.
Rapid worldwide spread has been defined as one of the characteristics of a pandemic. Rapid spread is considered the primary area of concern among health care professionals as “pandemics occur when new diseases develop the ability to spread quickly.” (Felman, 2020)
Due to the emergence of a new virus, humans have little or no immunity against a new virus and the resulting factor is rapid mutation and spread of the pandemic. Diseases in animals, have been faulted as the primary attributor for the spread of diseases to humans and new virus strains for which there is no research or defense mechanisms to prevent its spread. The resulting aspect of global spread would be inevitable.
When described as inevitable, is the fact that with improvements throughout the years in air, sea and rail transportation and the ever-present desire of humans to travel further and farther, it is now easier for new viruses which would have been contained in one geographic area to be introduced to new environments, cultures and diasporas in a matter of hours. The body which serves as a defense mechanism is also an incubator for virus and disease which can be easily moved from point a to point b without anyone’s knowledge.
Overload of the healthcare system, is another distinguishing area mentioned as a common unifying feature of a pandemic. With a global spread of a new virus that would have progressed in leaps and bounds also notwithstanding the factors of communicable spread, global health care systems face the definitive challenge in not only trying to identify a new virus and its causes but also how to prevent further spread by containment. Little or no immunity against the unknown, no research information or guidance as well as the unavailability of medication to treat the sick and afflicted puts a major strain on healthcare institutions in terms of not only staffing needs bit also accommodating safely the number of sick patients and consequently rising costs as a result.
Documented data from previous pandemic outbreaks such as the H1N1 flu (Swine flu)- 2009 to 2010 or The black death -1346 to 1350 or even the current Covid19 (Corona Virus) 2019- present to name a few, have shown that global pandemics have spread in “two and sometimes three waves,” (N.a, 2020) this feature alone places a greater strain on an already fragile health care system.
As a final point for discussion is the economic and social disruption that pandemics cause.
A loss of life, jobs, fluctuations in global economies and increased regulations by worldwide Governments to stem the spread of a new virus are all considered affects which would cause a disruption to any economy. Businesses throughout varying industries are all susceptible to the fragility and economic fallout and implications as a result of a global pandemic.
Historically, pandemics have caused significant economic losses in its wake. Conferring to a 2019 joint report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the world bank, losses as a result of pandemics is estimated to be in the sum of (US$3 Trillion) and a total cost of 2.2% - 4% of global GDP. (Delivorias & Scholz, 2020) Yet another article produced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) states that vulnerable populations, particularly the poor are likely to suffer disproportionately as they may have less access to health care and lower savings to protect against financial catastrophe. (Delivorias & Scholz, 2020)
Based on the report created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) it shows and raises the consciousness of the inequality and distribution of wealth to the poor and the vulnerable in society and the consequences of being categorized as underprivileged in seeking a fighting chance when faced with the effect(s) of a pandemic. Though every cross section of the society would be affected as to the effects associated with a pandemic, those persons in the lower rung of the economic pyramid are now at a greater risk impacted even more.
As mentioned earlier in the presentation, epidemics and its resulting evolution to a pandemic has the propensity to cause not only loss of life, destruction of global economies and a change in every day activities in a relatively sort space of time. Pandemics unlike epidemics have distinctive characteristics which clearly underscore its seriousness.
Rapid worldwide spread, overload of healthcare systems and economic and social disruption are some of the areas in which pandemics can be defined and its resulting effects which ensues thereafter.