Expert mercy stems from an alchemy that mixes compassionate fellow feeling with interventions that save the sick and slow down spread.
The novel coronavirus epidemic first recognized in Wuhan, China, has stirred reactions ranging from unstinting generosity to playing the blame game, and on to overt discrimination. One of the more palpable responses has been anxiety and fear. Such negative social responses have mounted in recent weeks, in part because this particular epidemic has been sparked by a previously unknown pathogen, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
But if we’ve just met this virus, the human responses to it are mostly old acquaintances. The most important response? Expert mercy. It stems from an alchemy that mixes compassionate fellow feeling with interventions that save the sick and slow down the spread.
For three decades, my colleagues and I have worked together to confront epidemics — AIDS, Ebola, cholera, and drug-resistant tuberculosis — and are working still with thousands of caregivers spread across Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The world must wake up to the threat the coronavirus poses, and the possibilities for effective and humane action this pandemic presents.