The Atlantic

The Shortages May Be Worse Than the Disease

Over the centuries, societies have shown a long history of making the effects of epidemics worse and furthering their own destruction.
Source: Sean Gallup / Getty

Every day, new evidence emerges of the havoc that COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is wreaking all around a thoroughly globalized world. As a new pathogen sweeps nations and continents, people are being quarantined in hospitals and aboard ships in distant ports, and the movement of labor and vital supplies has been profoundly disrupted. What’s becoming clear—from China to Iran to Italy to the United States—is that the new pathogen isn’t the only thing putting human life at risk. The shortages and other disruptions that an epidemic causes, not to mention the social inequities that it aggravates, massively amplify the consequences caused by the disease itself.

And yet these dynamics—far from being unique to the current epidemic—have recurred time and again for at least half a millennium. As a historian of slavery and medicine, I often come across bleak accounts of smallpox outbreaks that happened 200 to 500 years ago. Then as now, the poorest and least powerful people were usually at the greatest

Вы читаете отрывок, зарегистрируйтесь, чтобы читать полное издание.

Другое от: The Atlantic

The Atlantic4 мин. чтенияPolitical Ideologies
I Never Expected to See It Here
As I sat in my Capitol Hill office two weeks ago, watching a violent mob storm the symbol and seat of our democracy, I was reminded of my distant past. As a child, I saw my birth country of Somalia descend from relative stability into civil war, over
The Atlantic11 мин. чтенияInternational Relations
The Case Against the Iran Deal
Reviving the JCPOA will ensure either the emergence of a nuclear Iran or a desperate war to stop it.
The Atlantic4 мин. чтенияPolitics
Can Abolition Work in an Age of Right-Wing Extremism?
Punishment can radicalize and further alienate people, while social policy and grassroots community building can defuse potential violence.