“Respect your elders.”
That’s the bottom line of the current coronavirus crisis sweeping the world.
It is not a banal platitude. Governments are locking down cities in a bid to prevent the elderly from being infected with the COVID-19 disease, which can be fatal for them.
Yet, the virus is relatively harmless for most younger people — little more than a mild respiratory tract infection, apparently.
So, have governments gone about this the wrong way?
Couldn’t they have simply isolated the elderly, and let the rest of society catch the virus, deal with it, and become immune to it while maintaining the status quo in the business world?
One Israeli scientist is saying the virus will not kill millions of people, as some fear. And he reminds us that the flu kills 60,000 people — mostly elderly — in the U.S. every year.
Will we look back on the current crisis — the civilian lockdowns, the economic meltdown, etc. — as hysterical overraction?
Or will we feel it was all justified?
There are silver linings to the crisis:
While panicked investors unload stocks at bargain prices now, people are buying those stocks from them. When the market roars back in a few months, the bargain hunters will make a fortune.
And then there is Mother Earth itself, which is getting a much-needed breather from the pollution of mankind as industry shuts down. Even the canals of Venice have become clear, and people are posting pictures of fish swimming in them.
We will learn many lessons during this crisis, among them that we can have a much cleaner world if we are motivated enough.
This could be the last chance for modern civilization to get its act together.
Will it happen? Or will it go back to its old ways, with huge temporary paper profits before more catastrophic karma finishes us off?
Paper profits will always win. In the long run, the clean habits formed during the COVID-19 outbreak will reduce the number of flu and cod infections for a few years.
One thing that is being discovered is that people who recover from a COVID-19 infection have permanent scar tissue in their lungs. Does this mean that when the 40-year old youngster gets to be 70, he is more likely to die from pneumonia?
Interesting point about the scar tissue, Steve. I had not read that. I have to wonder if there is more to this than we are being told, hence the super-cautious approach by governments. But I have read that the virus is essentially uncontainable, and is here to stay and will eventually be treated like the flu.
I am still amazed that this may have spread from one source, one person, and what that may indicate for our future when even more serious viruses are unleashed on mankind, whether by accident or on purpose. There are people out there who would find great joy in wiping out large portions of Western civilization, as we all know.
“But I have read that the virus is essentially uncontainable, and is here to stay and will eventually be treated like the flu.”
COVID-19 is a new virus, so we have almost no immunity to it. This is why it is so virulent. If you are exposed to the virus, you are likely to become infected. And then you have a 3% chance that you will die. (7.3% if you are over 70 and have diabetes or heart disease). The time from infection to exhibiting symptoms varies between two days to one week, and in that time you can be spreading the virus.
As the virus spreads, infected but recovered people will have an immunity from further infection. When a significant number of the population have been infected and recovered from COVID-19, then the virus will have difficulty finding a new host to infect, and will eventually no longer be the terror it is today. (This is what “herd immunity” means).
“I am still amazed that this may have spread from one source, one person,”
This is how any new infection begins. Coronaviruses are mostly found in animals, but sometimes one strain will mutate and infect humans.
On the good news? My wife (A biologist) just finished a conference call with other scientists where she works. The call was discussing the progress that virus research labs have been making toward a vaccine. There’s many different approaches and some of them are near safety trials. Some are testing a killed-virus and an attenuated virus approach like the polio vaccines, others are looking at exposing the body with pieces of RNA that fool the body into making antibodies, like the Smallpox vaccines. So there is reason to be optimistic. But, it will take a year or more to scale up to the quantities that are needed.
We need some good news, Steve. Thank you!
“Couldn’t they have simply isolated the elderly, and let the rest of society catch the virus, deal with it, and become immune to it while maintaining the status quo in the business world?”
Seems a bit selfish to expect one group of people to experience isolation and a major disruption to their lives, probably for months, so the rest of us can just get on with it.
Also, it’s not just the elderly who are particularly susceptible to COVID-19 (and if you look at the mortality stats, the death rate starts to rise at about age 50, so where would the cutoff age be to shut people away?). Anyone with an existing health condition is also more susceptible.
I think leaders are doing their best with a fluid situation. I’ve actually been surprised, in a good way, to see that lives are being put before the economy for once.
re: Silver linings. Ain’t going to hold my breath *cough* Iteration, SHE doesn’t give a da*n. And takes no prisoners. And if man|woman think we can outsmart her, I believe the phrase is “whistling dixie.” Spring is tomorrow, at least for now 🌱🌻 %@
I’ve been saying for the last couple of weeks that we’re overreacting. But I’ve recently amended that opinion. We are still overreacting, but all things considered, it is probably better to overreact than underreact with this virus.
One small town in Italy tested everyone for COVID-19. Six people tested positive and had no symptoms at all. Yet, they were infectious. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-8126899/Small-Italian-town-cuts-coronavirus-cases-zero-population-tested.html
No, we’re not overreacting.
If the Italian town’s results are typical, then there are tens of thousands of people in the US who are infected and spreading the virus.
“We will learn many lessons after this crisis”
We will. And the rich, as you mentioned with regards to investors, will learn even more. They still hold the heavy part of the bat.
Viruses can be contained, controlled or removed eventually, and though unfortunately there is those who don’t survive for various reasons.
I’m more worried about the ease of which the media turned this case into an apocalyptic situation spearheading the most premature decisions without considering long-term financial effects.
A nasty virus that mostly takes out the elderly. Must better situation than the 1918 virus. Or polio. Not a good thing but as one of those “seniors” I’ll take that trade.
It isn’t going to kill millions – as predicted by people who know nothing about epidemics were claiming from extrapolating raw numbers they don’t understand. But the unknown is scary and there are always people who grab attention by upping the scare factor.
The economy will recover. Just takes some time – says a retired man on social security and trying to avoid using his 401K until it starts to grow back. I’d be more concerned about the political ramifications. Even if it might theoretically save lives, I’m glad we don’t have martial law.