Prof. Joseph Tham gave an online presentation “Why is this Pandemic Unprecedented?” as part of the Chinese and Cross-Cultural Health Humanities Lecture Series on January 25, 2021. Tham is a Professor of Bioethics at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and a Fellow of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights. The talk can be viewed online at HKBU Library : HKBUtube : Scholarly Talks.
One of the most heard words to describe the COVID 19 pandemics is “unprecedented.” But in fact, it doesn’t even make the top 10 list of fatalities among all the epidemics in human history. Why is this time so different? This talk will look at the changes in our perception that makes this epidemic indeed unprecedented. There is a misconception of medicine due to the increased availability and effectiveness of technology, but scientific knowledge is not really as certain and definitive as the media portrays and usually takes years of research to arrive at a consensus. Globalization and the accessibility of communication and social media makes the situation much more immediate. The number game gives us a false sense of control. All these perceptions, expectations, and inexact science are mixed with political and economic implications, generating uncertainties and anxieties in different spheres of society. The talk will offer some conjectures of a post-Covid future.