Well, the European Union has just realised their mistake that by creating an unnecessary hype on a second wave, increasing the tests to a level where testing becomes counterproductive and instilling fear in the markets, the once iconic economies of Western and Central Europe are suddenly tanking (pardon the phrase). UK’s rating has been downgraded by Moody’s and as per the ECB figures, the debt raised or to be raised for the EU in 2020 is set to cross the sum total since 2012 on a like-to-like basis—huge by any stretch of the imagination! As for the incidence of the virus itself, one is ironically being told by western medical experts themselves that since the PCR test in itself may not really be a very reliable tool to measure it, its magnitude cannot be properly quantified. In fact, the PCR has been there much before the COVID-19 pandemic and has been used to determine various types of viruses that could be present in the human body. Post COVID19, merely for want of any other better or more precise mechanism for testing, the PCR method has been adopted to test this latest form of coronavirus. However, whether or not this is the most suitable way to determine it or how reliable it is in its efficacy and can be gauged by the very own statement of the governing health body, WHO, where according to its statistics the PCR test is only about 60 percent accurate in its assessments and the twelve hour process largely depends on the approach of the examiner and the prevailing magnitude of process fatigue. Already people in Europe are widely rebelling against the way their respective governments are handling this second wave scare where in effect the ratio of asymptomatic positives exceeds 65 percent and the fatality rate is less than even 0.50 percent—demonstrations have spread from Vienna to Berlin to Paris to London and the once previously responsible zone leaderships like Greater Manchester are today outrightly refusing lockdowns unless their governments take the responsibility of fallouts from such actions by clearly doling out funds to save smaller businesses and jobs. Sadly, though the damage has been done, as in economics more often than not, perception overtakes events and this is exactly what has happened in Europe today: Debts are mounting, GDPs are shrinking and robust governments of not too long ago suddenly find themselves cash strapped!

What this essentially means is that a new thinking is now emerging amongst global leaders on how best to tackle this pandemic; medically, socially and economically. This approach entails of course caution and prevention, but now also optimism. It calls for beating the virus by lauding people for their responsible behaviour rather than discouraging them or dampening their spirits by projecting that the virus is winning the battle. The idea being that only a confident, motivated, spirited and economically sound population can rise up to the challenge that not only keeps them medically safe but also financially secure. The change is already visible where leaders in a new world are instead endeavouring to lead their people out of the virus syndrome rather than letting them being stuck in its origins or perhaps in its present. You can dispute President Trump on many things; still his courage—despite his age—in lending confidence to the American people in their belief that the worst of COVID-19 pandemic is behind them has been simply remarkable.

Jacinda Ardern who has somewhat assumed the status of a mythical character in successfully defeating this virus was quick to reiterate the notion in her victory speech as the returning New Zealand prime minister, stating that her team and nation had mastered the art of putting down the virus every time it tries to resurge its head, and that now it is time for the Kiwis to look ahead and not behind.

In other words, the game of perceptions is afoot! China and Vietnam have declared that they are ready, their markets have returned to normal and for them it is now business as usual. Even the terribly struggling India has suddenly changed its tone. The theory being that victory lies only in rendering confidence to the markets. In a completely surprising move and actually amidst a worsening pandemic situation across the country, the Indian Government instead announced that the worst is behind it and happy days are around the corner. This effort in changing the economic perception has been very cleverly disguised by unleashing it not through the Indian Finance Ministry, but to make it more convincing, instead through the pulpit of the Indian central bank, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Delivering his policy address, the RBI governor Shaktikanta Das, gave a key guidance on the Indian economy by suggesting that finally the economic tide is turning and that the chances of a second wave in India are almost next to nothing—“By all indications, the deep contractions of Quarter One are behind us, the pandemic seems to be gradually fading away and in this environment, the focus must now shift from containment to revival and development.” Remarkably, the RBI has projected economic growth in the first quarter ending March 2021 at an astonishing 20.60 percent (that is after taking into account the base effect of Q1 contraction). Now some would argue that it is not only incorrect but in fact foolhardy, however, if you look deep down clearly the real agenda here is not the numerical number of the growth itself, but more importantly, ‘course correction’.

Pakistan, thankfully, has been very blessed so far and kudos to our government on following a very balanced path in spite of some serious criticism both from within and outside. The current leadership, in some very difficult and challenging times, remained steadfast in its belief that the economy per se cannot be ignored and work must go on. This belief transformed itself into every individual’s strength that he or she has to keep going, regardless, and the results today by the Grace of Allah are there for everyone to see. One can only hope that now when there is a lot of talk here at home also about a second wave, this government steers the same course and in the larger interest of the nation refrains from falling prey to any political temptations or allowing any type of expediency in any way in affecting its pandemic-related decisions.