The coronavirus is not deadly as some of its famous counterparts, despite sensationalized media portrayals such as H1N1, which was notoriously estimated to have killed tens of thousands of people in 2009; coronavirus has, in comparison, led to a death toll of 1665 people as of now.
The coronavirus has offered us a lot to learn already; this epidemic has revealed two severe problems that exist in the logistical system in our modern society worldwide. One is the inefficiency of government agencies in allocating resources to counter the disease, and another is the increasingly dubitable role that private logistics corporations play in the transportation of goods in times of emergency. It is increasingly important that we divert our attention to these problems in order to enable all nations to be better prepared against epidemics like the coronavirus.
From a national level, the coronavirus epidemic urges us to develop a more integrated and efficient correspondence system between different levels of government as well as affiliated agencies. For example, the Red Cross Organization of Hubei Province failed to supply many local hospitals in time at which the epidemic broke out. Since the organization did not have access to national databases to verify which hospitals they were supplying, it was forced to verify the files submitted by hospitals manually, making many doctors and nurses work while under-protected. Meanwhile, piles of medical supplies were stuck in the warehouses until the Red Cross obtained access to official databases after the first few weeks.
Consequently, in times of emergency, these institutions that directly counter emergencies do not have the authorization to order mass distribution of resources. Most countries have the technology to work these agencies into the existing database sharing programs, but years without massive disease outbreaks conceal the urgent need to do so.
Another pressing issue is how reliable private logistics companies act in times of emergency. Private companies cannot force employees to work during the epidemic, especially when their job requires them to travel back and forth from the areas infected with the virus. But there is also the logistical line into those areas compromised as no employees are willing to drive trucks or planes carrying the supplies. Small businesses in that field may even collapse since they cannot function until the epidemic ends. China has displayed a temporary solution through government aid as well as collectivist mobilization, and the government has lent microloans to many small businesses to help with their losses. Additionally, tens of thousands of members of the Communist Party of China in the logistical field are volunteering to carry the freight of goods into the infected regions.
But taking a step back, even in such a circumstance are we truly going to let private corporations sit out in situations like this, take their losses and not help to fight the epidemic? The world should not and cannot function like this when private businesses in other fields around the world give back to the communities in order to profit. Our next step should be considering how to incorporate private companies into our collective effort to fight whenever, and wherever, epidemics occur.