Covid-19 has greatly impacted the entire world. Turn on the tv, radio or scroll through social media and something is bound to come up regarding the devastating impacts of the pandemic. As we continue to focus on our own health, safety and personal effects within our residing country, the question still comes to mind: what about those countries struggling to mitigate their death toll and protect their own communities? Have we dismissed or forgotten those in need amid our own attempts to begin restoring our own health and economic impact? This article explores why compassion is so important during Covid-19.
Wealthier nations coming to the aid of those less fortunate
Wealthier nations have been the front runners in scientific research and engineering vaccines now ready for distribution based on purchases from the nations’ governing bodies. Many experts believe that wealthy nations will donate their unneeded doses to Covax, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) initiative to provide the vaccine worldwide.
Whether this is ‘sooner’ or ‘later’ depends on the wealthy nations’ ability to vaccinate their own before donating. In the long-term this could mean that the least developed countries will not see mass immunisation for a very long time. The immediate mission might be to make sure that the health and well-being of people within the less developed countries is preserved, and that enough essential lifesaving clinical practices and equipment are available to assist those that will subsequently fall unwell. The long-term venture is to prepare the less developed counties for sustainable financial restoration. This is wherein the official development assistance (ODA) can step in. Much is left on the governments’ purchase, as well as the time involved to construct the vaccine and quantities available within our locations.
The Covax initiative is the WHO’s plan to help those in need. Their statement describes the vitality perfectly, “Global equitable access to a vaccine, particularly protecting health care workers and those most-at-risk is the only way to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.” Compassion from the wealthier nations is needed to continue to move forward globally.
Compassion during Covid-19
It can feel a little disheartening being “just one person” when this pandemic has wreaked havoc of varying proportions across the globe for well over a year. The spread and impact of COVID-19, and the vast devastation it has caused globally is indeed overwhelming. Additionally, since much of the responsibility and power to act on a large scale lies within various institutions and governing bodies, we as individuals can feel powerless. Compassion throughout Covid-19 is not just needed from wealthier nations to combat the severe impact of this pandemic – it is needed from each one of us.
Compassion is a human response to the perception of another’s suffering: an authentic and genuine concern for, and desire to help alleviate that suffering. Unfortunately, individuals in western society can feel detached, being relatively ‘safe’ from the effects of this virus and so physically distant from the devastating effects in less-developed countries.
In Perth, apart from the occasional lockdown period, life is relatively normal. It would be easy enough to forget the catastrophic impact the pandemic is having on parts of the world. Sometimes, choosing to ignore distressing information and deny its existence feels more comfortable. But that does not change the fact that people across the globe continue to suffer to varying degrees, and that their situations are unlikely to improve for a very long time. In contrast, there is much for us to be thankful for: most of us are safe and free to go about our daily lives unrestricted. Our hospitals are not inundated with suffering patients and all of us will soon have access to a vaccine. Moreover, with access to global news through various mediums, we are able to view others’ plights overseas and around the world.
Effects of compassion and gratitude on wellbeing
In the field of psychology, compassion has gained traction as a widely-studied phenomenon in the last decade or two, with many positive benefits associated with practicing compassion. For example, one study found that the more compassionate you are, the happier you are. Another found that practicing compassion helps to buffer against the effects of stress on the body. Similar effects can be observed from practicing gratitude, with research findings indicating gratitude is associated with decreased depression and improved mental health and overall wellbeing, as well as increased resilience.
It does not cost us to be thankful for our situation, nor does it cost us to feel genuine care and concern for others in the world who may not be so fortunate. We have much to gain from practicing gratitude and compassion – they may be crucial to preserving our humanity and protecting against the depression and isolation that are among the side effects of the pandemic. We can show compassion to those who were struggling prior to, and throughout the pandemic. There is a long way to go and it will take time as we continue to navigate the devastating impacts. Through all of this, we need to continue to remember those who have less and are still waiting, hoping and believing that time, science and wealthier nations will come to aid. But in the meantime, all we can do is show Covid-19 compassion.
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