The Author: Dr. Ram Gulati is a practicing dermatologist who believes humanity is much deeper than the skin.


Having recently attended a web session hosted by Harvard Business Review which discussed leadership in times of crisis, one quote struck me; Things that have never happened before, happen all the time. It seemed interesting considering ‘research’ is a word I have come across umpteen times since I set forth on a medical career. Research or as I would say Re-search is simply searching something again, and may be again, and again and so forth, till truth reveals itself. In fact there is nothing new in this world.

We are intermediate products of a journey that probably started with the proverbial Big Bang, and is headed to a notorious nowhere. We can mix and match the ingredients we have been endowed with, or bestowed upon, but we can’t create a novelty; novelty being just a re-search. It’s something like we learned about energy in eighth grade Physics – energy can’t be created nor destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another. Referring back to where I started, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS Cov 2) is not a novelty, but well known ingredients jumbled up in a way not witnessed by mankind before. This virus bears around eighty percent homology to the similar coronavirus which the world witnessed in 2002 called SARS Cov. The size of the SARS Cov2 estimated to be 60-140 nanometers, the twenty percent of this we perceive as novelty, is a tiny trivia considering the big cosmos we are a part of. Nevertheless, this apparent trivia has proved a formidable conundrum to decipher. From time immemorial, from the fringe of the observable universe to the fine tip of the quark (as if I can see it), what mankind has at its hand are uncountable puzzles to solve. These puzzles have been sitting on our “to do list’ for a long time, with real answers getting procrastinated by non-collaborative competitive misdirected actions. As a human race (don’t confuse with humane), we have been lackadaisical on these, simply due to the fact that it did not affect our existence. The ‘right in our face’ fact is that if we collectively, instead of fighting each other over invisible land borders and non-existent air spaces, had acted on more pertinent questions of our existence, a tiny obscure virus would not have threatened our existence.

Today, we have been forced to act on an emergent basis only because we see impending doom. The answer to today’s challenge lies in our past. Accordingly, we are trying to find answers in old therapies, in structures of old viruses and in words of old scientists. If nature can rewire a pawn to take two steps, we do have the capability to capture it en passant. It would be foolhardy to look to the future without looking into the trash we have left behind. We had time to study SARS Cov and MERS, however, as the causative viruses stopped being a nuisance for the world at large, they became part of the trash. It’s time to mutually re-search and find an effective answer to the current problem. But beyond that lies a bigger challenge to take, if we want to see this civilization last a bit longer (I say a bit because whatever extension we can provide, it will be minuscule in the big cosmos of things). Communally, as a human race, we have more questions lying under the microscope and beyond a telescope, and there lie many of our answers. Both the micro and the macro worlds are our past and in our past, lies our future.

It’s high time we rewire our intellects for common good.

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