Amidst the crisis of Covid-19, the world’s efforts to flatten the curve and combat this pandemic has shown unity among nations proving that, down to its core, the virus that is claiming lives knows no borders. Novel coronavirus does not discriminate. The rich, the powerful – both people and nations are vulnerable. This sudden vulnerability of the rich has shocked people to believe that Covid-19 is “the great equaliser” – as Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor has called it. Yet, the virus is far from being “the great equaliser.” There is nothing equal about the impacts of the virus on an already unequal world with an existing disparity within communities especially those in BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and immigrant backgrounds. It is simple.
Those in the middle class and higher have the luxuries of safely quarantining in the comforts of their own home, some with the privilege of working from home. But what about the working class? Or refugees in camps? The struggle is different for them and is by no means equal. People in poverty might share the fundamental, broader worries of the impacts of the virus that affects the world – our economic and social wellbeing has been compromised. However, those who rely on the consistent cash flow from their jobs to support their livelihoods are those of the working class and, thus, their mobility in a virus-stricken world is out of necessity. Further, statistics show how the virus affects those in BAME communities worse, with over 1/3 of critically-ill Covid-19 patients in the UK coming from BAME communities despite only making up 13% of the population.
This inequality is only heightened by the pandemic that draws on the privilege of class and power that is embedded into our society to be more than just the “survival of the fittest” – and even though it is a reality that we have grown to accept in a majorly capitalist world, it has become more disproportionate. An analysis from the IRC (International Rescue Committee) compared the transmission rates of the virus in refugee camps and the Diamond Princess cruise ship where there was no choice to self-isolate in an overcrowded space. Despite the cruise ship being densely packed, refugees still face a heightened risk of Coronavirus as the conditions are even more cramped – showing that once again, Covid-19 is absolutely not the great equaliser.