World war "P"
By Bret Snider
My family are of loyalist decent. They fought with the British during the American Revolution that started in 1776 and then the War of 1812 defending Fort York when the Americans invaded. They served in both World War I and World War II. In all these major wars, lives were disrupted and family members were lost. We now face a war that is different. We are not facing a foreign power that is invading our territory or enemies that want to take over key parts of the world. We are facing COVID-19, a virus, and our response to it should be the same as if we faced a war.
Since 1918 we have faced various major flu outbreaks and other variants of those strains. They have included the Spanish Flu in 1918 (which didn’t actually start in Spain but in Kansas, but was first reported in Spain), the Asian Flu in 1957, the Hong Kong Flu in 1968, the Swine Flu in 1976, the Russian Flu in 1977, the Avian Flu in 1997, and now COVID-19 which we have been dealing with for the past year and likely will be still dealing with into 2022. The death toll from these flu outbreaks far surpasses those lost in wars since 1918. So that’s an epidemic or pandemic, on average every 14.2 years, that takes more lives than war.
In November of 2019 I wrote an article about Eli Lilly leaving our community. They had been located at Birchmount and Danforth since 1946 and were best known for producing the polio vaccine. In 2010 we also lost a testing lab in Windsor to make way for a highway. These facilities aren’t always needed but we maintain our regiments of soldiers and bases, ships, sailors, planes, and military airports just in case.
Spending money on “just in case” scenarios is risky for politicians who live in a world of four-year election cycles. Especially if the risk is not right in front of you. Let’s face it – voters have short memories, but the pocketbook and taxes are a constant reminder.
On a go-forward basis, there will be a reluctance to travel which will impact a huge industry. My wife and I and several friends recently cancelled a long-planned Baltic cruise and have no plans to book a replacement any time soon. Restaurants, commercial real estate, golf courses, hair salons, gyms and many other industries will be hurting for some time. And this, based on historic data, is likely to happen again.
The new normal is following the facts. On a personal level it means re-evaluating the way we interact with others. On a governmental level it means preparedness by keeping our scientific companies healthy and capable with capacity to ramp up production when needed. The likelihood is that war will not be our challenge as it was with past generations. Health vigilance and industrial and scientific capabilities are our challenge.