By the time this issue of the LMJ is released, and after less than five months from the first detectedcase of COVID-19 infection, the worldwide number of infected individuals with COVID-19 would have probably reached more than 10 million with around 500 000-750 000 deaths. This pandemic has exerted significant stress on most governments around the world and revealed the precarious state of many of them, from the most developed to the poorest ones, including Lebanon. It showed how unprepared we all are to meet the challenges this pandemic has created.
While we have been able to create the most advanced weapons to kill one another and spent our wealth developing destructive weapons, we stand helpless in the face of an infection with an invisible microscopic enemy. Though countries stand equal in the face of this dismal viral infection, yet they remain divided in how to fight it.
Over a very short period of time, health systems, all over the world, have crumbled under the stress created by the high volume of infected individuals, and the large number of the very sick ones who swamped hospitals and medical care centers. The acute shortage of personal protective medical equipment, hospital beds, intensive care unit (ICU) beds, ventilators, specific diagnostic tests and many others, have only been compounded to the lack of knowledge on the course of the disease, its pathophysiology and more importantly effective medical treatment and vaccination. This has led many countries and health systems to compete for scarce medical resources. This pandemic has also challenged some physicians, such as in Italy and Spain, to make ethically difficult life and death decisions regarding whom to intubate and whom to admit to the ICU. The large number of deaths exceeded the capacity of many cemeteries and created significant emotional stress, especially with the strictly enforced social distancing. This was heightened by the fear of the medical treating teams from the exposure to this infection that might threaten their lives and the lives of their colleagues, families and loved ones.