COVID-19 phenomenology: a reflection

The novel coronavirus, now seared into our universal consciousness with the technical name of SARS-CoV-2, stalks us in every corner like a new plague. In attacking the way we breathe, when air (pneuma) is both life and spirit, this coronavirus and its variants are changing us. SARS-CoV-2, seemingly appearing out of nowhere in late 2019, eats away at the lungs of those who it chooses to kill. Unable to keep it out of our daily existence, the authorities are now resigning to the fate of universal infection, which will separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated. But sickness and death will not spare either of them when breakthrough infections and waning antibodies are scientific realities. 

The promise that those in power have given us is that through mass vaccinations, COVID-19 will become like the flu. Many will get sick; some will die; but most people are going to be okay. But in epidemiology, no one is actually sure that this situation of relative freedom, with some sacrifices of life, will be stabilised. What is certain, however, is that a global pharmaceutical governance will define our lives as we humans eke out our existence through vaccine boosters to counter our gradually fading immunity in face of the growing violence of the coronavirus mutants. Since that fateful day in late 2019, we are no longer free. Our Dasein is disease-being in the spiralling pandemic-endemic dialectics. 

Heidegger warned us never to equate being with security. Sein, in fact, is Gefahr. Through decades of being cocooned in technology, which are material extensions of our cleverness, our desires and our foibles, humans have forgotten that in olden times, the hunter also became the hunted. There has never been an absolute conquest. History always has the last laugh as the curtain falls on the stage of our vulnerability on earth. This is our fundamental ontology.

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