25 Nov 2020: Has the time come for the finished world?
In 1991 the biologist and geneticist Albert Jacquard published this book: Here is the time of the finite world.
He then insisted on the fact that the population explosion had to be stopped urgently before the end of the 20th century or else witness a collective suicide due to the depletion of natural resources. Western scientists and ecologists began to multiply alarmist messages to encourage collective awareness of “the spatio-temporal finitude of the biosphere”
The idea that the world is on the verge of ruin is not new: the various examples of apocalyptic literature attest to this, whether ancient, Persian, Jewish or Christian. All of these phantasmagorical tales contain end-time prophecies, which identify the forces of evil and encourage those who suffer to be patient with their evil.
The HIV infection epidemic, given its acuteness, has contributed to social interpretations including this theme of the apocalypse.
It was revealed in 1981 with the first cases of AIDS appearing in Los Angeles in a community of young homosexuals initially then among heroin addicts and transfused.
If the modes of transmission of HIV were quickly identified (sexual, blood and maternal-fetal), it was necessary to carry out numerous investigations to date the origin of the passage of this virus in humans and to understand why it had occurred. developed on a pandemic basis.
Studies carried out using molecular epidemiology tools have shown that it resulted from the human adaptation of viruses infecting chimpanzees and that the crossing of the species barrier had taken place in Gabon, Cameroon and Guinea. equatorial probably around the years 1935/40.
Initially, transmission probably took place during hunting activities, following bloody contact between monkeys and humans. Human factors have taken over and amplified the epidemic (massive urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa, sexual liberation in the countries of the North, sex tourism, development of air transport, etc.)
We can therefore say that originally, HIV infection results from the adaptation of a microorganism of animal origin and the scientists had stressed that it was not the first time… and that it certainly would not be the last.
Until 1987, when AZT was discovered, there was no medicine for HIV itself, but medicine was treating opportunistic infections better and better and mortality was decreasing.
We will also discover that the long asymptomatic period corresponds to an intense viral load: thanks to the tests of early detection of the seroposivity one then endeavors to treat the patients “early and hard” in order to avoid a viral multiplication which depletes the immune system.
In the 2000s we will approach the time of hope for healing and global solidarity: there is then the hope of a vaccine, research continues but the mutant nature of the virus makes them unsuccessful to this day.
From an unknown fatal disease in 1981, AIDS became a viral infection stabilized under treatment.
AIDS also reformed the hospital system: from 1988, in France in particular, specialized hospital units were set up bringing together at regional level the centers of medical expertise in terms of treatment, prevention, research and information.
The stigmatization of the sick and the initial ignorance gave way to tolerance, and changing behaviour. But all these advances have been made mainly in developed countries. Solving a problem of this global magnitude can only happen through the expression and practice of true international solidarity.
And today, as a new pandemic weakens the world, have we learned the lessons of this not-so-distant past?
The two diseases – AIDS and Covid19 – are not comparable but on closer inspection, there are in the current crisis some similar echoes of the AIDS pandemic: initial lack of preparation of health services, waste of time for everyone to understand and realizing that anyone can be affected, refusing to admit that we have simply lost control.
There will of course be a political assessment to be drawn up, covering point by point everything that has happened. But a personal assessment will also be imposed on each of us: what to say about the inaudible and vile debates that have been unleashed on social networks fueling conspiratorial delusions and other accusations of conflicts of interest that have only served feed anguish and fear, even mistrust of caregivers?
The year 2020 will end in a few weeks.
But the chapter on the current pandemic is unlikely to be closed.
Until now, I have found Louis Philippe de Ségur’s comments relevant: you have to learn from the past, live the present without restraint and anticipate the future moderately.
However, I think that if we judge by the current crisis, they deserve to be revisited: moderation is no longer required in anticipating the future and the least that we can say is that the present that it is given to all of us to live forces us to an indispensable and vital “restraint”.
So in 2021 will we be able to find the right words to empirically understand the present and the future in the light of the lessons learned from this recent past?
* French poet 1753 -1830