COVID-19 testing kits Photograph:( AFP )
In India Bharat Electricals, a public sector unit under the defence ministry has been given the task of manufacturing 30,000 ventilators.
The coronavirus has come as a lesson in fixing our priorities. The deadly virus has exposed how fragile the world can be in the face of a health emergency of this magnitude. The pandemic is punishing citizens for the unpreparedness of their leaders as the disaster our leaders have always worried about is a nuclear war.
In their quest for dominance, countries have invested in weapons and are being defeated by a pandemic. There's a lot of talk of 'flattening the curve'. But none of them will tell you whether our hospitals can even cope with the most flattened of curves. Or any curve. Hospitals and quarantine facilities across the world are filled to the brim without enough life-saving machines and ventilators and face masks.
So what are governments doing?
In Turkey, the health ministry has roped in a defence firm to manufacture ventilators. The company which goes by the name Baykar is racing against time to deliver 5,000 ventilators while in Britain, the NHS has ordered 10,000 ventilators from a consortium of leading aerospace companies. This defence consortium is manufacturing, assembling and testing components for medical ventilators.
In India Bharat Electricals, a public sector unit under the defence ministry has been given the task of manufacturing 30,000 ventilators. In Israel, a missile production facility is being retooled to mass-produce ventilators. The Israeli health ministry says it only has 2,000 of them.
There's also a shortage of medicines and medical staff. Israeli soldiers have volunteered to hand out boxes of medicines and essential services to homes of the elderly. Defence manufacturers are making ventilators. Soldiers are filling up for the shortage of medics. perfume makers are making sanitisers and fashion brands are manufacturing masks.
This should be an eye-opener. The biggest threat to national security is not foreign militaries but microbes. A virus has made all our weapons and defences rendered useless. Armed troops and missiles cannot defeat the coronavirus but efficient health-care system can. We need to prepare for an epidemic just as we do for wars.