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On Covid-19. II

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Proof me wrong.
As we have reached the end of the first four months of 2020 more data have been inserted in the analysis of the COVID Pandemic. And the data keep getting worse.
A recent article in the New York Times points in the direction that this has been and perhaps will continue to be worse than it has been reported. The article shows data that support the idea that the total number of deaths related to COVID is much higher than reported. The logic is straightforward: the spike in TOTAL DEATHS, when compared to the same period in the previous year, is dramatic in some places, and evident everywhere. And it is also easy to grasp: if you have not enough testing then knowing who died of COVID is hard.
So the accepted world toll of 200,000 perhaps has been seriously undercounted. Add to that the countries that simply cannot keep this count (Ecuador) or that have followed a policy of denial (Brasil) and the numbers grow and grow. And the macabre game played by some people of trying to expand the divisor in order to make the rate of deaths smaller is then defeated by the growth of the dividend.
Still, the numbers seem to be low. This has been achieved by imposing a lot of restrictions in the way the world has behaved. Sweden has provided the control group: a policy of non-closure has led to them to have a much higher death rate than any neighboring country. But most other countries in Europe have implemented isolation policies and lockdowns of their economies. Even the USA, with a disconnected reply, has implemented policies at the state level. So the number of people that have been infected and the number of people that have died is still artificially low when you take in consideration that measures were taken. More scenarios have shown that a release of the measures will lead to re-occurring hotspots of the virus. Even Sweden implemented some measures. We really don’t know how deadly this virus is if let to roam freely.
To this the economic price must be added. The USA just reported a drop of 4.2% in GDP for the first quarter. Q2 will be obviously worse. All countries around the world must be in the same range, if not more. The USA on top of that have issued 3.4 Trillion dollars on assistance packages to its population (we will skip the reality of this help for now), which will be added to the USA debt. To put that in perspective: the annual GDP of Germany is 3.4 Trillion, and Germany is the fourth economy of the world. All in all, the economic devastation has yet to be calculated properly.
So here is my statement: we have been defeated. And it has nothing to do with human arrogance or hubris. Because those people that call for humans to live in “harmony with nature” conveniently forget that nature is a serial killer. The large number of humans in the planet is only possible when we fight against nature. Science, our best weapon in that fight, gave us the tools: a proper theory of microbial and viral infection, better hygiene and sanitation systems, and the development of very efficient and inexpensive vaccines and antibiotics. But that fight, like any fight, could not be forever a string of victories for mankind. I believe it was Desmond Morris that said it; paraphrasing, he wondered why was it that humans felt they were not subject to the rules and controls of nature. And now, nature has landed a very good blow. And until a vaccine is developed (a good chance) we will be subject to the same reality in which our ancestors lived: a disease (or in their times, many) was out there and the chances of falling prey to it were democratically around us. No invading army ever killed people like the plague could, like infections could. We are in a way back to what our lives were like in the 1850’s.
Mankind, and especially American, have developed this idea that we will defeat anything and everything. America is the best at that: the concept of the “Superhero” was developed there, a concept that somebody or a group of somebodies will always come and “save the day”. Dressed in White, Blue and Red, the hero will beat the menace to a pulp. But this time it will not happen. Superheroes do not wear white lab coats, and only the nerds wearing those will help us eventually control this virus.
So yes, we have been defeated. Accept it. Whenever the vaccine comes to our help, the dead will not come back. The economies will take years to recover. In the ultimate David Vs Goliath metaphor, a truly microscopic foe will end up taking many of us. Invisibly and stealthily, it will cull our herd.
We are the only technologically developed species in the planet. It simply does not make us invincible.

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