My phone rang early in the morning, during the busiest time for the production of the newspaper.
“I want to share with you,” a friend told me, “very good news.”
“Ah,” I answered, “Go ahead, tell me the news!”
“I called,” he told me, “at least five restaurants to make a reservation for four people and I did not find a table anywhere. Eventually I found one at a restaurant that I do not like very much. It was their last table.”
His voice was cheerful, fast, like a child whose team had just won a championship.
“It was amazing,” he continued, “to see the restaurant full of people, eating, laughing carefree, without the fear of the coronavirus. There were still a few customers who wore masks.
“And note,” he said, “we were inside the restaurant.”
Indeed, the news was very pleasing. The information he gave me is tangible proof that life is finally returning to its previous state, before March 2020.
To the opening of the restaurants, I add the fact that our communities, such as those of St. Demetrios in Astoria and St. Nicholas in Flushing, resumed their festivals this year, a source of life and financial oxygen for them, albeit to a lesser extent than before.
And, in addition, many countries, such as America and European countries, including Greece, seeing the coronavirus cloud dissipate, are now competing with each other to persuade tourists to visit them, promoting the security that, as they claim, they are providing against the coronavirus.
I do not think we are fully aware, my dear readers, of the unprecedented magnitude of science's victory over the coronavirus. Suffice it to say that only a little over a year has passed since the pandemic was declared.
At this time, it is true that almost 167 million people became ill of which 3.48M died (figures from Johns Hopkins University).
But if one compares these numbers with those of the Spanish flu of 1918, one will see that they cannot be compared. An estimated 100 million people died then, compared with three and a half million who have died from the coronavirus so far.
This is despite the fact that the population is now four times larger than it was in 1918.
This is attributed to the triumph of science. The fact that thousands of scientists worked silently for decades in their laboratories day and night, constantly adding new knowledge and discovering new ways to deal with new diseases, resulting in an ever-increasing average human life expectancy.
Life expectancy has already doubled since 1918. (World average life expectancy for women is 75 years and 70 for men. In the U.S. it is 81 for women and 77 for men).
In fact, there are scientists who predict that it will not be long before man lives 150 or even 200 years, believing we will be able to replace the body’s organs that have problems, something like spare parts for our cars.
Of course, the coronavirus has not been eradicated. And we may never get to that point, as is the case with the flu.
Undoubtedly, however, it is in a serious decline, with the number of cases and deaths constantly decreasing and life returning to a normalcy that we remember.
But we all still need to be careful, at least for a few more months.
And we also need to acknowledge in the midst of our misfortune, the mountain of good luck that scientists constitute, such as the Greek expatriate Dr. Albert Bourlas. With the development of the Pfizer vaccine, he and his team enabled the world to avoid the more tragic dimensions in terms of loss of lives that previous diseases had caused.