Notable Heroes of the coronavirus pandemic: Of all, we’re all restricted in our physical abilities as humans. We can’t fly. We are unable to look through walls.
What is boundless in humans, though, is our ability to recognize injustices and confront them—often at tremendous personal peril.
Workers in global health and development have brought me to some remarkable individuals who possess this type of superpower.
I’ve had the privilege of highlighting a number of them on this blog: An epidemiologist who was instrumental in the eradication of smallpox.
In Africa, a doctor is striving to end sexual violence. Improved crops are being developed by a researcher who is working to solve hunger. Just a few examples.
Why do we need heroes in the first place?
They exemplify who we can be at our best. Their efforts to address the world’s problems reflect our society’s values and serve as great examples of how to make a good change. And if enough people hear about their bravery, it may inspire others to do the same.
It is now, more than ever, that we require heroes. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant health and economic concerns, particularly for those who are most susceptible.
The good news is that many people from various walks of life are assisting them. Workers in the medical field. Scientists. Firefighters. Employees of a grocery store.
Workers in the aid industry. Participants in a vaccine trial. And regular people looking out for their neighbors.
Here are portraits of a few people attempting to alleviate suffering during the pandemic from around the world. I hope you find their stories as inspiring as I have.
Thank you for the work you do, these heroes and all heroes!
1. There are currently one million bars of soap on the market.
Basira Popul has been a dedicated polio worker in Afghanistan for the past four years, traveling from home to home to help vaccinate children and stop the devastating disease.
During home visits, Basira Popul knocks on doors, distributes soap, and educates families about the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the COVID-19 epidemic struck, polio workers were obliged to halt their vaccine campaigns because of social distance rules.
This did not, however, deter them from working to enhance the health of the populations they serve.
Instead of polio vaccinations, Basira and thousands of her coworkers are now distributing soap bars and teaching hygiene lessons to stop the infection from spreading.
Basira shows youngsters how to properly wash their hands in the Surkh-Rd District of Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.
Basira discusses basic sanitation, hygiene, and handwashing with a mother in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
They’ve spread awareness about the coronavirus across the country and distributed over one million bars of soap to keep Afghan households safe.
2. Her job is hot and uncomfortable, but she enjoys it.
Shilpashree A.S. works as a COVID-19 tester in Bangalore, India. (Like many Indians, she uses initials to refer to her hometown and her father’s name as her last name.). She is one of the notable Heroes of the coronavirus pandemic.
Wears personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes a protective gown, goggles, latex gloves, and a mask.
She then enters a small booth with two openings through which she can reach her arms to do nasal swab tests on long lines of individuals.
From a booth at the Jigani Primary Health Center in Bengaluru, India, Shilpashree A.S., a COVID-19 tester and lab technician, tests a patient who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms.
She has an important role to play during the epidemic, but it comes with a lot of challenges. Shilpashree described the hours she spends inside the booth, clad in layers of safety gear, as “hot and uncomfortable.”
Shilpashree and other health professionals in Bengaluru, India, get ready to conduct tests by the side of the road.
In Bengaluru, India, patients queue for COVID-19 testing at the Jigani Primary Health Center.
After work, the obstacles persist. She is not permitted to contact her relatives in order to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
She’s only been allowed to see them via video calls for the past five months. “I haven’t seen or embraced my children yet,” she stated. “It’s like getting a close look at a fruit but not eating it.”
Still, she wouldn’t want to be doing anything else right now. “I enjoy this profession, despite the fact that it is dangerous.” “It makes me happy,” she stated.
Shilpashree enters the test results into a centralized database after a lengthy day of testing.
3. The advantages of a trial
A coronavirus vaccine is being developed by scientists all around the world. More than 150 vaccine candidates are in development, with dozens of clinical studies underway.
Volunteers are needed for all of these trials to help determine whether the vaccination is effective and safe. Thabang Seleke of Soweto, South Africa, is one of the volunteers.
After returning home from the clinic where he is participating in Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine study, Thabang Seleke plays with his youngest child in front of his home in South Africa.
Thabang is taking part in the first African trial of the coronavirus vaccine, which was created at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute. It is also being tested in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Brazil.
Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, is leading the South African trial, which includes 2,000 volunteers in the Soweto neighborhood of Johannesburg.
Thabang, who lives in Soweto, South Africa, takes a taxi to the clinic, where researchers will track his symptoms and immune reactions during the vaccine experiment.
Thabang had blood and swab samples drawn at each clinic visit to ensure that he remains COVID-19 negative and that the vaccine has had no harmful side effects.
After his clinic visit, Thabang double-checks his vaccine trial documentation.
Professor Shabir Madhi, who is in charge of the South African vaccine experiment, tells Thabang how to fill out his diary card, which he will use to record his symptoms and any vaccine side effects.
COVID-19 has been detected in over 600,000 people in South Africa, with over 13,000 people dying from it since March.
Thabang learned about the experiment from a friend and volunteered to participate in order to help eradicate the coronavirus in Africa and abroad. “This trial will help the entire planet,” Thabang remarked.
Thabang poses with his family in front of their Soweto house.
4. In a time of crisis, the best of humanity
After delivering food assistance to the community, Sikander Bizenjo, founder of Balochistan Youth Against Corona, smiles with youngsters in a secluded tribal settlement in Naal, Balochistan, Pakistan. He is also one of the notable Heroes of the coronavirus pandemic.
When COVID-19 arrived in Pakistan, Sikander Bizenjo knew exactly where the pandemic would have the greatest impact: the poorest parts of the country, including his native state of Balochistan.
In this arid, mountainous region of southern Pakistan, more than 70% of the population lives in poverty and struggles to get access to education and health care.
Volunteers from Balochistan Youth Against Corona fill ration packages for the food distribution event.
After receiving a ration bag and soap from Balochistan Youth Against Corona, a small child stands inside their home.
Sikander had relocated to Karachi, where he currently works as a manager at a business school. But he realized he had to help his family in the event of a pandemic.
He discovered that many families lacked food and that health facilities lacked medical equipment after contacting local government authorities and aid organizations.
As a result, he formed the Balochistan Youth Against Corona, a non-profit organization that raises funding for monthly food rations for 10,000 Balochistan homes, as well as personal protective equipment including masks, face shields, and hand sanitizers for frontline health workers.
From his grandfather’s home in Naal, Balochistan, Sikander works on the distribution drive.
While handing out soap packets, Sikander speaks to people on the significance of soap and handwashing in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
He described the outpouring of support from fellow volunteers and contributors as “amazing.” “I’ve witnessed the best of humanity emerge from this pandemic.” We’ve had a lot of help from the public. “Everyone has been very generous and nice,” he remarked.
We have been able to see the effort of all Notable Heroes of the coronavirus pandemic.