Collaboration During a Crisis: How Aspects of Our Response to The COVID-19 Crisis Inspire Optimism

Since it broke out in December, the total cost of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has been measured in more than sheer bodies.

Since it broke out in December, the total cost of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has been measured in more than sheer bodies. The nationwide quarantines and mass panic around the world have cost the global economy 10s of trillions of dollars and sent several sectors into free-fall. The world has not seen losses so catastrophic and sudden since the Great Depression, leading many experts to think that the world is headed towards the next economic recession. While it may seem like there's little hope of recovery from our catastrophic economic meltdown, COVID-19 has sparked a wave of collaboration among researchers and within Congress, instilling markets and the global community with optimism and potentially slowing a continued market free-fall. Although our political system and research initiatives have often been divided in the past, politicians' and scientists' current effort to tackle this economic nightmare together inspires hope.

The current state of global hysteria and floundering sectors brings to mind the (relatively) recent 2008 economic collapse caused by a bursting housing bubble, dubbed the "Great Recession." Banks across the country failed, necessitating a Congressional bailout of nearly $1.5 trillion. However, the economic free-fall we are experiencing right now is nothing like 2008; it's much worse. As an economic crash caused by a virulent pandemic, our current economic collapse hit far more swiftly and harshly than the Great Recession. It seems that the best way to handle this recession is to snuff out the root cause: the spread of coronavirus.

On that front, however, scientists worldwide have collectively made great progress. COVID-19 has acted as a unifying factor for many scientists across the globe. While in the past, scientists have not prioritized transparency across different projects and countries, COVID-19 has prompted them to share any and all information that could help lead to a vaccine or treatment, disregarding the promise of prestige or credit. To accelerate their progress, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have each set aside billions of dollars to fund coronavirus-specific projects, encouraging labs across America to turn their attention towards battling this pandemic. These moves come amidst simultaneous progress abroad; a biotech company in the UK, for example, recently initiated the world's largest drug trial to treat COVID-19 patients. Termed the "Recovery Trial," this effort could potentially yield the first batch of definitive data regarding the effectiveness of their antiviral medication on treating coronavirus. As scientists across the world build upon each other's research in a unified effort to defeat the coronavirus, a solution could be at our doorstep sooner than we expect, and with it, a recovering economy. Advancements in COVID-19 treatments and vaccines not only have the potential to save lives, but they also restore confidence in the economy and raise morale in general-in response to news of new antiviral drugs and vaccine progress, for example, the Dow Jones rose over 700 points at the end of a historically poor trading week. The collaborative effort among researchers is helping the world make economic progress amidst the devastating stock market crash a month ago-this crisis is bringing the best out of the scientific community.

Similarly, the COVID-19 has also united our previously polarized Congress by giving it a common enemy. A mere six months ago, Senators were scoffing at Andrew Yang's plan to hand out "free money" to Americans. Within a few months, bipartisan coronavirus relief efforts drove Congress to do just that, writing Americans a $1200 check to keep citizens afloat during this troubling time. Just this past Tuesday, the Senate, in a bipartisan and swift manner, approved a massive $2.1 trillion stimulus deal for COVID-19 relief, a move that would have been unthinkable and unfeasible this time last year.

Recognizing that their efforts have not been up to par, the US is working to follow the example of more successful countries such as Germany, South Korea, and Taiwan to implement relief strategies in both the community and economy. As the U.S. reports its lowest number of fatalities in two weeks, we have an invaluable opportunity to learn from our counterparts across the globe and begin reopening our own economy to accelerate our return to normalcy.

As scientists and Congress make slow but steady progress in stemming the advancement of COVID-19, we could begin to see slowdowns in our economic downturn and maybe even signs of recovery soon. There seems to be a clear correlation between victories in our struggle against coronavirus and market behavior. Stocks dip due to uncertainties regarding the spread of the coronavirus and rise due to news of progress against the virus. And for good reason: we are heading into what may be the worst recession in nearly a century, caused by the most virulent pandemic in decades. The speed of coronavirus's spread is precisely why it was so devastating, and the world was caught off guard. As our global struggle against our common enemy unites all peoples, from scientists to Congressmen, we can see that this economic crash is unlike any previous meltdown, and will perhaps allow us to emerge stronger, more unified, and more hopeful.

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