COVIDian Reflections: Fear

Fear is the first and the last insurmountable that man can not overcome. The world is gripped by the fear of a virus that is only 1/164 millionth size of a man. What is this fear? It is the fear of death. Fear is the feeling that directly or indirectly reminds us of a disaster-in-waiting, and barring a few exceptions, origin of that feeling can ultimately be extended to death. Exceptions like a child being afraid of its parents; a student being fearful of his/her teacher, etc. We go through fear of unknown as well as of known. And both ultimately boils down to fear of death. 

Fear is better explained by looking at the opposite of fear, which is love. When I looked for antonyms of fear, there were many, and among them I chose ‘love.’ It is phobia versus philic, isn’t it? Fear of death is diametrically opposite of love for life. Anything that creates fear does not have space for love though love does not fully take fear out.

Fear immobilizes a man mentally, hence, has its impact on his physical-being, too. How does it immobilize? By unsettling the orderly thinking pattern, and this unsettling can even make temporarily inroads into our proven knowledge-based strength. For example, even when we know that man has only another man as his enemy, hearing any noise from a cemetery, while walking beside it, can scare us to walk faster and get out of the place. 

Ignorance is the root cause of the fear of unknown while knowledge can take out the ignorance and obliterate the fear of unknown. However, knowledge can also create fear. It is an irony that fear caused by ignorance can be removed by knowledge and at the same time the same knowledge itself can generate fear at least temporarily. The perfect example of this irony is the COVID-19. In the beginning of the outbreak, ignorance about the virus kept the world on the tailspin of fear. As scientists studied the virus and understood its genome, more educated-information about it came out, creating further fear, especially on its highly contagious nature, at least temporarily. 

In genetics, length of RNA and DNA is measured in Kilo-base pair, or kb. 1 kb is 1000 nucleotides or base pairs. A megabase pair, or Mbp, is 1 million base pairs. 1 Mbp is 1/3rd of a millimeter. It means 3 Mbp is approximately 1 millimeter. COVID-19 2019 is 30 kb in length. A 6-feet man is 1828.80 millimeters (1 foot = 304.80 millimeters). If we scale down man to Novel Coronavirus 2019’ size,  the calculation goes this way: 6-feet man = 1828.8x3x((1000000/1000)x30) = 164,592,000 Novel Coronaviruses’ length. Alas, man who sits at the top of the animal kingdom is in fear of a bio-being which is only 1/164 millionth of his size. 

From time immemorial, it is man’s ability to ask WHY that gave answers to conquer fear. This time, too, science will give answers soon to conquer the fear of COVID-19. A good news is, as reported by BBC, that vaccine trial for the COVID-19 had begun in Seattle, the United States, yesterday. However, it will take 1 year to 18 months to fully validate the vaccine as per experts. As of now, the ability of the virus to create fear will continue unless it disappears on its own or an expected breakthrough occurs. Till then, the virus lingers, so does the fear.

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