Corona Pandemic: Nature or Nurture

By: Rafiullah

The biological threat is a reality, which can have both artificial and natural genesis. Owing to the dual-use nature of biotechnology one cannot rule out its militarization by manufacturing biological weapons.  With Covid19 becoming a pandemic, opinions about its origin also circulated across the globe. They vary from artificiality to naturalness of the disease. The artificialists view Covid19 as a biological weapon – made either by china or America – or mere propaganda minus reality. While the naturalists’ opinions vacillate between Punishment of God and destruction of the environment by the capitalist mode of production. Some also consider it as a deliberate attempt on the part of non-Muslims to destroy the interactive culture (handshakes, hugs, congregational prayers etc) of the Muslims.

From the aforementioned views two hypotheses can be postulated at best. First, Covid19 is an artificially nurtured biological weapon to achieve politico-economic ends. Second, it is a naturally caused disease which has acquired the shape of pandemic. Let us put these two postulates to the test of different questions and in the view of these questions, let the sane minds decide for themselves whether it is nature or nurture.

Looking at the first Hypothesis, the use of disease-causing-germs as a biological weapon is a fact. In the past, biological weapons have been used. The use of non-human life to harm the human life is a practice in vogue since the dawn of human history. For instance, the use of dead-bodies of animals to contaminate the water sources was a widely used practice in the past. Adding strength to this nurture hypothesis are the statements of President Bush in his speech in 2005, President Obama in his speech and Bill Gates in one of his TED Talks in 2014, who have made indication towards future pandemic and urge for preparation against it. So, giving this hypothesis of corona as a biological weapon the benefit-of-doubt is valid but let us put it to the test of some questions.

If it is man-made biological weapon then who has manufactured it and against whom? Those who argue that it was China who manufactured it, then China was the first victim of it. How is it possible that state uses its own made weapon against its own people. Those who argue that it was made by America then currently it is the Americans who are leading the graph in the large number of deaths and infected patients. Apart from this, both economic giants are suffering the most because of the complete lockdown of imports and exports.

Now, when it doesn’t seem convincing that virus is manufactured by either china or America, then who might have done it and for what purpose? A wild guess can be, a private bio-tech firm might have done it for an economic purpose. But again question raises, it must have provided the anti-dot and vaccine for it in order to earn billions and trillions of dollars. To our utter disappointment, it isn’t happening. In view of the above discussion, it appears that this corona pandemic is not the work of nurture.

Let us turn towards the second hypothesis of the nature i.e. this pandemic is natural like the Black death of 14th century and Spanish Flu of 20th century. Owing to the failure of first hypothesis, reason believes that it is then naturally caused pandemic. Here comes the problem of interpretations. Muslims in Pakistan interpret it as the punishment on the behalf of God for non-Muslims. They put forward following reasons to justify their claim of virus as a God ordained punishment for the non-Muslims. For examples, banning of Niqab in the West, Human rights violations perpetrated by the Americans in Afghanistan, Iraq particularly and in Middle East generally. But if it is punishment for the non-Muslims then why is it equally affecting Muslims? However, reaction to this pandemic in the West is quite opposite i.e. people are challenging the religion for failing to stop the disease.

Leftist and Marxists interpret this corona pandemic as a byproduct of the prevailing capitalist economic system. According to this interpretation due to massive deforestation, robbing of natural resources and rapid urbanization, we are disturbing the natural balance of our ecology, which stimulates the rapid growth of virulent pathogens. Capitalist mode of production is reducing the natural capability of the biosphere to check the growth of dangerous pathogens. They are of the view that in future we will be having more such pandemics if we didn’t overhaul the economic system.

The notion of corona pandemic as a biological weapon is lacking currency because not a single entity i.e. state, private companies, individuals, is benefiting from it. World economy is in decline. Whole global business came to a halt. The whole social life is in disruption. This seems to be a natural pandemic which has wreaked havoc on the world. Failure of capitalist system in preventing the pandemic by catering protective gears available to general public. Even in this testing times when humanity should have worked in concert to defeat the Corona Pandemic, people are exploiting it to make more money by selling masks and sanitizers costlier. The purpose of capitalist society is to make profit rather than serve the humanity. The leftists’ interpretation holds water that this pandemic is because of the annihilation of environment and expect many more such pathogenic attacks sooner than later.

The writer is a student of Mphil at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.