Random thoughts, probably all bollocks.
This land of 70 million people has officially had about 200,000 cases of cv19 (which I shall call it for ease of typing). So that’s one in 350 people. OK, our testing and reporting rates are poor, so working up from about 30k deaths at the sort of rate more testy countries report, and it could be more like 400k infections. But then nearly half of the reported total is also reported as recoveries by now, so maybe it’s not far off to say that, after weeks of reduced contact, the chances of that guy you got close to in the supermarket being a carrier or spreader are less than one in two hundred.
Perspective is important in these things.
But complacency can be fatal, so still assume everyone you pass has it and keep your distance. If they seem to be getting too close, shoot them. Better safe than sorry.
Oh, and wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Especially after shooting people. Powder traces can be a dead giveaway.
Will a second wave necessarily be worse? I’ve no idea. Will those countries we point to as being so good at containment just suffer more with wave 2? Or, as the actual infection rate in all countries is still quite low, will the ‘immunity’ the bigger sufferers like us are building up be enough to make any difference (if indeed immunity does follow from infection)?
Rightly we look to excess deaths to get an idea of impact. At this peak, the average weekly deaths are about double the usual figure of around 10k, even though all this isolation is keeping figures down for flu and other infections. But will people consider the deficiency figures in the aftermath: those, especially the already sick and elderly, who would have been found in the ranks of death, had they not been carried already by our new wee friend?
(Incidentally, I was remembering how, in the days before antibiotics and advanced pain relief, pneumonia was sometimes referred to as ‘the old person’s friend’, because it was what usually finished off relatively peacefully the terminally ill and suffering oldsters)
It seems quite sensible to me, a mathematician by training, that a scientific advisory body for this situation would contain behaviourists and number-crunchers. But there seems to be an ascendance of the utilitarian nerd these days, and I worry that a certain subset of them has the idea that numbers are everything. I don’t have any doubt that data, the bigger the better, can reveal and predict things that more focused experts often can’t see. But I can’t see that the computer guy can appreciate the whole picture without the specialist, in this case the virologist and the epidemiologist. Context may not be everything but it is crucial.
When it comes to stupidity, no one outdoes the highly intelligent.
[BTW, I understand the basics of mutation and evolution, but I must admit to being baffled as to how one strain of a virus can supplant another, especially worldwide, over time. Trillions of the wee buggers are produced in any given victim. Some will be viable newbies, most will perish as non-functioning specks. But why does one strain, or even totally new thingy, not just live alongside its parents and cousins? Who’s competing for what limited resources/niches with whom? I can sort of see possibilities, but can’t really visualise the processes. I need a virologist. Preferably a rich widow virologist, looking for companionship and meals out.]
A common utilitarian cry at the moment is the idea (not without foundation) that the cure will be worse than the disease, ie economic collapse will kill more people than cv19.
Well, one problem with this is that we still don’t really know what the long term effects numbers for this disease might be (permanent lung damage, kidney damage and excess brain clotting have already been shown as possible), nor whether immunity can be gained or a vaccine found — and as it is still mutating, albeit slowly, in what form it will ‘settle down’.
But I still feel that to some extent these ‘economic deaths’ are a matter of choice, whereas cv19 deaths are compulsory. An article in the Grauniad this morning spoke of the ‘suspension of capitalism’ and the ‘wartime economics’ of ’39-’45, for instance. As far as I can see, the people able to offer services and work will mostly still be there when the dust settles, as will the ‘consumers’ (ie people who need shit); and there’ll be a backlog of needs to keep everybody busy. The economics that works so awfully (ie well for a few, sufficiently for most and craply for the ‘undeserving poor’) actually causes the problems at a time like this. The WWII responses proved that even capitalist economists (when I say ‘capitalist’, I include state capitalists and pseudo-commies) appreciate this fact. So to what extent will the kontinuation killer be the system’s own refusal to suspend the money flow based purely on capital (rents, mortgages, wages, debts, etc), rather than any real shortfall in the operation of the underlying economy of needs and supplies?
As an anarchist I should of course be delighted at the prospect of economic collapse and the popular awakening to the hollow evil of the whole system of money and hierarchy. As an ageing pessimist, I’d say, yeah, right, don’t hold yer breath.