How Universities can Contribute to the Struggle against Covid-19

“We cannot stop natural disaster but we can arm ourselves with knowledge: so many lives would not have to be lost if there was enough disaster preparedness” (Petra Nemcova)

Covid-19 has affected the world in many ways. Businesses have faced major losses in stock and money, students have faced great wastage of their time and families have faced the losses of their loved ones. But the effects of these losses need to be temporarily ignored to maintain focus on the issue as to what measures can be taken to ensure no further losses. Covid-19 is one of the biggest disasters that the world has ever faced as a whole. Unexpected and magnified disasters are the cause of uncontrollable panic among the general public. As the world progressed, people started to believe in a sense of guaranteed safety and security. The United States was considered the country that was most prepared to face unexpected disasters and yet, America is one of the most affected countries today.

No survey can determine which country is almost ready to tackle unexpected disasters, otherwise, the disasters would not be unexpected anymore. The current conditions of America are proof of this fact and as Governments and Science temporarily fail to save people from such disasters, the sense of guaranteed security that the general public possesses, starts to crumble, giving rise to panic and fear among people, which in turn, causes the loss of control over the situation because panic makes people’s actions unpredictable (Choompunuch et al., 2021). To ensure that panic does not take hold of the general public, authorities try to ensure people that the situation is under control and that leads to the rebirth of that guaranteed sense of security that was crumbling but it also gives birth to carelessness and irresponsibility among people while tackling with an unexpected disaster (Beigel et al., 2020). What we need is a public that is aware enough of situations caused by the Covid-19, that they understand that panic will only make matters worse and the public can only tackle such disasters in a calm and aware state.

People need to realize that no country, however developed, is being able to cope with this situation. Only those countries where the public took responsible measures and followed the safety protocols carefully have been able to prevent casualties (Choompunuch et al., 2021). Hence, it is up to the people and the people only to realize the necessity of responsibility on their part, so that this situation can be controlled as much as it can be.

The population is the main concern when it comes to the spreading of the Covid-19 pandemic. The more a country is populated, the more difficult it becomes to avoid social contact and maintain distance from other people. India is at a great disadvantage when it comes to the factor of population. Due to its massive population, the number of casualties is reaching its peak. Such a great number of casualties leaves little space at the Hospitals for other patients (Bhadra et al., 2021). The biggest concerns that need to be resolved are that of space and staff. Hospitals have reached their maximum number of patients and neither space nor staff is in enough supply to deal with all the patients. To solve the problem of the space needed for other patients, other institutions, that are currently vacated because of the covid-19 virus, can be used as temporary hospitals, like Universities in India. Since students are attending online lectures in their homes to avoid any social contact with their teachers and other students, Colleges and Universities remain empty (Pai et al., 2020). Hence, Universities and other institutions, education or otherwise, which have been vacated, can be used as temporary hospitals, where other patients of India can be currently treated in.

“Some people do not like change. But you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster” (Elon Musk)

According to statistical research, there are 875 Universities and approximately 69,000 hospitals in India. Based on these statistics, the amount of difference that will be made, if India’s Universities were to be used as hospitals, will not be very significant but it will still be a difference (Pai et al., 2020). The people of India are in dire need of hospitals and it is highly doubtful if one or two actions can solve the situation. A significant number of insignificant actions are needed to be taken to create a significant difference. Using Universities as hospitals may not be enough but it is a start. And it should be noted that other institutions that have been vacated are not being taken into account yet. If the public is made aware of the seriousness of the situation and asked to contribute their services for the fight against the Covid-19, many businesses that have been closed for the last months because of Covid-19 can at least provide their spare space to be used as shelters and hospitals. Shopping malls and markets have been closed too and only the stores with medical supplies are open for the people. Big shopping malls that are closed and not currently in business, can at the very least provide space for the treatment of other patients (Satpathy et al., 2021). Many other organizations that are unable to operate due to the Lockdown procedures may be used as interim care facilities. Instead of telling them misinformation, people should be aware of the needs of the situation (Gupta et al., 2020). Only responsible behavior at the individual scale, however insignificant it may seem at that scale, can ensure safety and control over this situation on a massive scale.

“If we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster” (Dalai Lama)

Space is not the only thing that Universities and colleges of India can donate for the Covid-19 patients. It can be considered that the world has been divided into two teams to tackle this situation: Those who prevent social contact as much as they can and follow safety protocols to prevent casualties and buy more time and those who are using this time to find a medical solution to the Covid-19 virus (Pokhrel & Chhetri, 2021). Universities can not only donate space for the members of the first team but also participate in the struggle to find a medical treatment for this pandemic. Researchers are also in dire need. The more the researchers, the better the chance we have to find a cure for this disease. Universities need to create programs in which students research into this pandemic and medical students should try to find a cure as well. It is in times like these that knowledge becomes our best weapon and safety measure (Bagcchi, 2021).

Also, university students who are not studying Medicine can devote their efforts to spread as much awareness through social media and the Internet, regarding the safety protocols that everyone can follow to ensure safety from this disease. It is on the people who are responsible for spreading awareness that they spread this awareness in such a way that does not give birth to panic instead of caution (Pokhrel & Chhetri, 2021). Everyone is afraid of this pandemic and that is only more source of motivation for everyone to contribute their services and avoid contact. What we need is caution and not panic among people because caution means wise measures in all actions while panic gives birth to unexpectedness in public’s actions that cause loss of control over the situation, which is not what we need.

Time is another important factor in this regard. The number of casualties is being multiplied with each passing day. In the age of the Internet and international communication and interaction, it is possible to make the public aware and prevent panic to be raised among them through blog posts and articles that can show them how much advantageous, can it prove for everyone in this situation, if they do not panic and contribute their services to the people while applying a responsible and wise attitude towards this situation.

`The third wave of the Covid-19 has been predicted to becoming and it is more dangerous than the previous waves. Each individual needs to ensure that he or she takes the maximum number of actions while maintaining minimal physical contact with other people to be better prepared for the third wave. The general public may not be able to find a way to treat this disease through medicine but they can use prevention of physical contact and the spreading of awareness to buy more time for the people who are trying to find a medical treatment for Covid-19 and thus, ensure the minimal number of casualties as the situation is dealt with.

“Rising sea levels, severe draughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief” (Leon Panetta)

Author : Christo Joseph, FRSA (PhD)

Research Scholar, Lancaster University

Director Strategy and Planning, Garden City University.

Work Cited

Bagcchi, S. (2021). The world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The Lancet. Infectious Diseases21(3), 323.

Beigel, J. H., Tomashek, K. M., Dodd, L. E., Mehta, A. K., Zingman, B. S., Kalil, A. C., Hohmann, E., Chu, H. Y., Luetkemeyer, A., & Kline, S. (2020). Remdesivir for the treatment of Covid-19. New England Journal of Medicine383(19), 1813–1826.

Bhadra, A., Mukherjee, A., & Sarkar, K. (2021). Impact of population density on Covid-19 infected and mortality rate in India. Modeling Earth Systems and Environment7(1), 623–629.

Choompunuch, B., Suksatan, W., Sonsroem, J., Kutawan, S., & In-udom, A. (2021). Stress, adversity quotient, and health behaviors of undergraduate students in a Thai university during COVID-19 outbreak. Belitung Nursing Journal7(1), 1–7.

Gupta, N., Tomar, A., & Kumar, V. (2020). The effect of COVID-19 lockdown on the air environment in India. Global Journal of Environmental Science and Management6(Special Issue), 31–40.

Pai, C., Bhaskar, A., & Rawoot, V. (2020). Investigating the dynamics of COVID-19 pandemic in India under lockdown. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals138, 109988.

Pokhrel, S., & Chhetri, R. (2021). A literature review on impact of COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning. Higher Education for the Future8(1), 133–141.

Satpathy, S., Mangla, M., Sharma, N., Deshmukh, H., & Mohanty, S. (2021). Predicting mortality rate and associated risks in COVID-19 patients. Spatial Information Research, 1–10.

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