Is this Pandemic a Poor Person’s Disease?

This is possibly the last article I will be writing about the pandemic. For any others written from this point on can only be categorized under “the Endemic.” However, I thought I’d throw one more stone at this dreadful disease that upended the world from it’s cosy existence. Covid-19 changed many things for many people, but when I parse out the winners from the losers, a pattern emerges:

Losers:

  1. Senior Citizens (living isolated on pensions that have lost the race with inflation)
  2. Casual and Gig Workers (minimum wage plus tips when work is available)
  3. Hospitality (minimum wage and tips and subject to sudden lockdowns)
  4. Entertainment (occasional work, except for the 1% of the 1% who are on every show)
  5. Travel & Tourism (minimum wage plus commissions, plus currently non-existent travel perks)
  6. Air Transport (two-tier pilots and cabin staff on low wages – now mostly unemployed)
  7. Personal Care (unemployed due to customer’s fear of infection)
  8. Education (teachers moving to contract work, students losing out on school attendance)
  9. Bricks & Mortar Retail (minimum pay and impacted by lockdowns)

Winners

  1. Pharma (raking it in with vaccines!)
  2. Tech (also raking it in with everyone looking for no-touch solutions!)
  3. Banking (still showing record profits)
  4. Communications (zooming the money in!)
  5. Distribution (in high demand)
  6. Online Retail (in higher demand)
  7. Real Estate (appreciating exponentially)
  8. Food Retail (Everyone’s gotta eat! More! And you can’t run out of toilet paper!)
  9. Healthcare (suddenly, everyone has an ailment—soaring demand!)

Other industries have had mixed results, with the losers being those who did not adapt fast and deep enough. Developed countries have regained most of their losses despite threatening fourth (or fifth?) waves, and the prospect that Covid-19 and its family of variants are here to stay. Their poorer cousins are in the doghouse, looking for handouts of vaccines and living in crowded environments that don’t allow for physical distancing – only the fittest and the craftiest will survive here.

There is another story playing out. Just like the gap between rich and poor nations, the poor and lesser educated have been hit harder in our society, the old and the very young have become extremely vulnerable, and governments have found an unexpected solution to population control. The rich have become less caring behind their fortresses, and become richer – they have the means of home-schooling their young, private jets for vacations, first-crack at vaccines, and the space and ability to break the rules within their enclaves. The rich don’t need super-spreader vehicles like public transport to get to work, or ball games for entertainment. They can shift their investments from losing industries to winning ones by calling their broker.

Therefore, if periodic plagues that hit mankind are supposed to teach us lessons, then  Covid-19 is a less-than-stellar example, for it has only helped to hold up the mirror and bring into focus the dreadful inequality that exists on this planet, and exaggerate it for everyone to notice, if we care to.

I wonder what a rich man’s disease would truly look like: a virus that spawns in champagne and caviar that only certain pocketbooks can afford; a magnetic defect that affects small engine planes and drops them out of the sky; a computer bug that stalls all computers and brings the internet to a grinding halt, reducing the computer-literate to the same level as their poorer cousins; a malfunction that switches off pacemakers, dialysis machines, and ICUs; an age-related disease that kills anyone reaching the magical number of years and who has led a soft existence unexposed to viruses and vicissitudes of life; a foreign invasion in which the invader robs and pillages the crème of the crop, i.e. the 1% who own 80% of the vanquished ones’ wealth. My imagination has no limits on this subject.

These are diabolical scenarios, no doubt, but ones prompted by the utter unfairness of Covid-19’s trajectory and the victims it has chosen to crush in its relentless march.

Therefore, Dear Covid-19, on my list of catastrophic events that we need to jolt mankind into periodic self-corrections, you get a failing grade. Let’s see how you fare in the endemic phase.  

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