What will we see when we finally emerge from our Easter lockdown tomb?
There are about 40 billion colds a year, mostly mild and self-limiting.
Coronaviruses and rhinoviruses cause the majority of these; in other words, people are getting infected with coronavirus strains all the time (1-3), and tides of these viruses are constantly washing around the globe. More serious is the flu, caused by influenza viruses A and B. This kills 500,000 in an average year (4), a million in a bad one (Hong Kong flu 1968), and as much as 100 million in a really bad one (Spanish flu 1918).
Flu typically presents with headache, fatigue and pain, often severe; and in those that die – mostly the elderly, those with underlying disease and the obese (5) – it does so by causing pneumonia, and finally a cytokine storm. Sound familiar?
But Covid-19 is far more dangerous. Or is it? Its kill rate in the community is probably less than 1%. The Diamond Princess, a relatively tightly controlled involuntary experiment, contained a group of 3,700 mostly elderly people of whom 700 tested positive and 7 died. Mortality is higher in patients in hospital and even higher in the ITU’s, but there is a good deal of sampling bias here and these situations are not representative of what is happening in the general population. The data coming out of China, Germany and Iceland show that up to half of those infected by Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms at all (6), and of those who do become symptomatic, 85-90% recover spontaneously. The main problem seems to be not so much virulence as very rapid transmission, which creates the surges flooding our tertiary and quaternary health care systems.
If C-19 is a bioweapon it is not an effective one. If you’re trying to kill, stick with C4 – unless what you want is not to kill people, but change the way they behave and think.
Every Covid-19 death is a tragedy, one must say; but one also has to enquire, why does Covid-19 have such good PR? The media over-dramatize Covid to an absurd extent (I was worried too, for a while), but they have always been ambulance chasers, and in this case are merely obeying their masters who are not the type to let a crisis go to waste.
When we emerge, blinking, into the post-Covid era, I suspect we will find that a welcome has been prepared for us featuring mass surveillance, constant contact tracing and reduced living standards. The sociopaths and crooks who run our societies will explain that it is all for our own good, as we slip into the neo-feudal age. And their role in precipitating the financial collapse and the surgical removal of our liberties will fade into the background.
Until a resurrection.
1. Gwaltney JM Jr. The common cold. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases: Volume 1 4th ed. London, UK:Churchill Livingstone; 1995:561-566.
2. Durand M, Joseph M. Infections of the upper respiratory tract. In: Braunwald E, Fauci AS, Kasper DL, et al, eds. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 15th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill;2001:187-193.
3. Mandal BK.Infectious diseases. 6.Ed,Blackwell Publishing.2004:40-41,48-49
4. World Health Organization. Influenza (seasonal)—Fact sheet No 211. 2014. www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/.
5. King LY, Ruby PC, Wai SL, Hak MC, Thuan KL, Kwok QT, Tai HC, Lam TH, Peiris JSM, Chit MP, Wong CM. Obesity and influenza associated mortality: Evidence from an elderly cohort in Hong Kong. Prev Med (2013) 56(2):118-123