A scientific response to the threat is going to take some time and a bit of luck as well
The 'World International Day of Kindness' has come and gone. The planet has perhaps never needed such a theme for focussed attention as now. Just about everyone is under some kind of stress; personal, social, financial, wellness, travel related and more. The surfacing of Omicron has sent a new wave of fear in a situation showing its first sign of recovery from a pandemic after nearly two years.
The regulatory system globally, nationally and state-wise has not always been aligned. Threat perceptions are determining the regulatory system. It multiplies the burden of the individual's response to keeping on the right side of the regulations which often come in suddenly and at times get changed abruptly. The argument for this would be lack of clarity and variegated data on the nature of the threat itself. This, however, does not mitigate the stress burden of the individual or groups that have to respond.
Consider the case of the Omicron threat. As of now there seems to be little consensus on the efficacy of the vaccines to handle it. This is understandable because of the nature of the mutations in the virus continue to be undefined and are still under study. That being so, the line of treatment also becomes a matter of dealing with a situation which in many ways remains undefined.
Omicron has been detected in 38 countries. Predictably, the response has been to tighten the screening system. There is the inevitable option of the administration taking over the monitoring system directly if there is a perceived violation. This could be in the way of taking the suspected person infected with this virus to a government quarantine system. The adequacy of the government quarantine is in many cases open to doubt. Media reports have the description of a couple in a Dutch airport offloaded from the aircraft and sent to a government-monitored quarantine in a tuberculosis cure centre. There was a reported attempt at escape by one of the couple. It was infructuous. What followed is another story. The substantial point is that the overall environment of stress has magnified many times in the last few days and threatens to intensify with passage of time.
Under such circumstances, a scientific response to the threat in all its dimensions is going to take time and perhaps a bit of luck. Scientific breakthroughs cannot always be programmed and it is good when they can happen.
The simple point till then is the practise of the virtue of kindness and understanding. This thought is not new but the practise of it over the years has not intensified. In dealing with another person and in interacting with him, it is important to keep reminded that the other person may be as much under stress as one is oneself. This requires the quality of patience, reasonableness and empathy. The sooner it becomes a two-way street, the less painful would be the response to a totally unprecedented situation which this planet is faced with.
To sum up, therefore, where it is obvious that tracks keep changing and the scientific response is tentative, one has to keep faith alive.Kindness to oneself and the other person has to be the desired underpinning of relationships. Perhaps under such circumstances, urges of consumerism and profiteering may be somewhat kept under control. Several narratives are available on the behaviour of people when pushed to the brink because of COVID-appropriate anxiety. There will be wisdom in trying to control the threats with sensitivity, greater logic and some lead time built into getting to know of the updated regulations.
(The writer is a well-known management consultant of international repute. The views expressed are personal.)