COVID-19, the virus whose spread is beginning to shake the foundations of even the mightiest countries across the world, is also beginning to test the resilience of our faith and the extent of our care and true love for one another as citizens of a country.
The principle of demand and supply states in part that whenever there is high demand for a product or service over what the supply can meet, the price of that product or service goes up.
The reverse is also true — when supply exceeds demand, the price comes down.
Since the announcement of the entry of the COVID-19 into the country in the last 72 hours, the prices of products, such as methylated spirits, alcohol-based hand sanitisers, among many others, meant to be used to either prevent the spread of the virus or protect people have witnessed astronomical increases.
Under normal circumstances, it is a fertile moment for traders in those products to make extra profit, basically due to the fact that there is not only high demand for the products but also there are shortages.
The shortages have arisen as a result of panic buying or deliberate hoarding in an attempt to just impact prices.
Although it is normal to regard the quantity demanded and the quantity supplied as functions of the price of goods, one would expect that we take a step back to consider the impact of our actions should majority of the people who need the products to protect themselves not get some on the market to buy.
It is against this background and more that the Daily Graphic completely sides with an Associate Professor of the Institute of Social, Statistics and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, Professor Robert Darko-Osei, when he called on those selling protective products against the COVID-19 to desist from over-pricing them beyond the reach of the ordinary person.
According to him, much as the high demand was most definitely going to impact the prices because of supply shortages, people needed to be cautious and focus on how to avoid contracting the disease and not necessarily how to make supernormal profits.
Being an economist, one would have expected Prof. Darko-Osei to simply focus on the real meaning of the situation at hand in terms of the profits traders would make, but he had, after a careful analysis, defied all odds to draw our attention to the impact chasing supernormal profits at this time of crisis would have, at the expense of people’s health.
The question is, of what value will it be to make all the money, only to catch the virus and be unable to spend the profit because of illness?
Why should we be focused on making profit, only to deny the masses, particularly those who cannot afford the protective products at higher prices, from getting access to them?
We should be mindful of the fact that these are not normal times.
The situation the world, and the country, for that matter, is experiencing is not one we need to toy with or use as an opportunity to take undue advantage of people.
This is the time to be there for one another.
This is the time for us to collectively find ways to help others who cannot protect themselves just because they cannot afford what can help protect them.
This is crucial because the COVID-19, like death, is no respecter of status, colour or age.
The Daily Graphic would want to use this opportunity to entreat all who are making supernormal profits on the back of this unfortunate situation to rethink their strategy in the interest of humanity.
We need one another now more than ever before.
We need not panic. Let us all follow the guidelines and protocols, as given to us by our President and health experts and we will surely overcome this phase of life, no matter the present challenges.