With much of the previously locked-down planet emerging from some of the most stringent restrictions on movement, employment and enjoyment in recorded peacetime history, the process of totting up the bill for this hitherto inconceivable policy will soon begin in earnest – and it’s unlikely to make for pretty reading. The seismic economic consequences of more than three months of drastically curtailed global economic activity are likely to be immensely far-reaching, and prompt an obvious question: was there a better way to combat COVID-19?
The models of Sweden, Belarus and Taiwan – nations which chose not to grind to a shuddering halt in the face of a virus with an asymptomatic case rate of 50-80% – have been extensively cited, if not yet copied. But largely lost in the discourse has been any serious discussion of diet – inarguably one of the great arbiters of human health – and it is here that the humanitarian example of Darijo Srna could prove enormously instructive.
Back in the infinitely less complex times of Q4/2014, Srna – the iconic captain of the Croatia national football team – purchased no fewer than 20 tonnes of mandarins from suppliers in his hometown of Metković, a small city on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. He then arranged for this fruit shipped to Ukraine – the country where he was employed by UEFA Cup 2009 winners Shakhtar Donetsk – and distributed to more than 20,000 needy schoolchildren; a greetings card was given to every child as part of this initiative.
The right-back’s rationale for such an act was simple: with war raging in eastern Ukraine, the empathetic Srna – who himself grew up in a country fragmented by suicidal ultranationalism – recognised the importance of nutrient-rich food in both preventing and fighting disease, a realisation which has yet to fully dawn on far too many administrations in the context of coronavirus.
While it is probably too soon to draw at least some definitive conclusions from the COVID-19 data, it is no secret that high-inequality developed countries such as the United States and United Kingdom have fared exceptionally badly during this crisis. Governments in these polities must give serious thought to policies such as strategic food subsidies – with an emphasis on natural, organic produce – and refrain from pursuing media-driven measures that are more apposite to the world of video games.