Are you scared of coronavirus?
It started as China’s problem, continued as an inspiration for Corona beer meme content, then WHO proclaimed it a global pandemic, then the fact that people started panic buying toilet paper was still a subject for a laugh.
Today, you go to Coles and all the pasta and beans are sold out, you go to your favourite cafe and they don’t accept cash or Keep cups. Gyms are empty and people are scared whether they’ll still have work tomorrow.
That’s not really a joke anymore, is it?
The virus is all people talk about, no one will touch your hand anymore, people in the street are wearing medical face masks and every time you go on social media, Coronavirus is all you can see.
Not to mention that several states proclaimed lockdown, most of the flights have been cancelled and in most of the European countries, the schools and shops have been closed.
The question on most of our lips at this point is,
Is there a reason to panic?
Is the global freakout appropriate or is it a bit of an overreaction?
To be fair, I know this will not be a popular opinion among most of the people, but I am not a fan of worrying too much about things that you have no control over.
Of course, you can control the fact that you will be a bit more cautious, a bit sensible and wash your hands and sanitize more often.
But will that help you not get infected? You cannot be sure.
And despite the fact that most people experience very mild symptoms when infected with COVID-19, the whole world seems to be freaking out (yeah, I know that elderly and those with underlying issues are at risk).
Why? Because people will die.
According to CNN, COVID-19 has been fatal to 7,100 people worldwide.
Newsflash: PEOPLE ARE ALREADY DYING
But what we seem to be forgetting, people around the world die in vast numbers even without the pandemic. Let’s look at some facts.
- Around 9 million people die of hunger and hunger-related issues every year, which is more lives than the lives taken by AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. (source)
- Around 800 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy life. (source)
- More than a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and at least 3-4 million people die every year of water-related diseases (source)
And here we were throwing away food, paying hundreds of dollars for luxurious dinners and wasting water without too much worry. And definitely without any panic.
Why? Because even though these are global problems, they did not affect us directly. Yeah, it’s sad, but meh. (IDK emoji)
Now? Now even the president of the United States is in danger, so is Queen Elisabeth and so is the CEO with 9 digit numbers on his bank account. So is your grandma and your friends. So now we care, now we panic.
Now we freak out about hygiene and try to prevent it as much as we can.
I’m not saying that this is not a serious issue, I just really like to keep a distanced perspective on things.
Especially with news and social media bombarding us with catastrophic information and people panic clearing the shelves at the grocery stores. Let’s not forget that there are other illnesses affecting the world on (potentially) much bigger scale.
Let’s not forget that:
- WHO estimates that common flu kills 300,000 to 650,000 people per year
- Around 10 million people die of cancer every year (source)
So why are we scared of coronavirus so much? Because it’s something we cannot control. Today, we like to live as if the world is at our feet and we can prevent discomfort and ignore global issues as long as they’re not concerning us.
Global pandemic or global shift of perspective?
I like to take things as they come and critically assess things that are happening around me, tragic or not. Apart from being a global disease and causing global panic, COVID-19 should mainly (in my opinion) be causing a global shift of perspective.
Because that new car doesn’t seem to be that important anymore when you can’t buy eggs in the shops, does it?
Staying at home and keeping your relatives safe seems more important than travelling to an exotic destination, doesn’t it?
And not to mention the things we take for granted. Having toilet paper, not having to worry about running out of food, and being able to go to work every day.
All of a sudden, people are concerned with boosting their immunity, sleeping enough and doing their best to reduce the risk of being infected. How come until then, it was fine to stuff our faces with fast food and ignoring signs of obesity or high blood pressure?
Did we really need coronavirus to get a slap in our face and to rethink our hedonistic indulgent lifestyle full of ignorance? Well, probably.
It’s not the first global pandemic (and won’t be the last)
But global pandemics don’t care about your discomfort. And I think we are forgetting that they are quite natural and this is definitely not the first one. In fact, a new pandemic tends to occur around every 30-50 years.
Before you see COVID-19 as a disaster, let me remind you, you are not special
- The Spanish flu infected 500 million people (27% of the world population) and had an estimated death toll from 17 to 50 million, making it one of the deadliest epidemics of human history (source)
- The plague killed around 25 million people and lingered on for centuries (source)
So COVID-19 is not the first pandemic and it’s probably not gonna be the biggest one either. And fair, these diseases are something that we cannot control and the death rate is out of our hands.
But let me just remind you that there are plenty of other ways of how humans have inflicted and continue to inflict death on themselves.
Just as the most extreme example, 75 million people died in World War II, many of whom because of deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease and starvation. The number of unnecessary deaths? All of them. (source)
And in case you want to tell me that that’s an extreme example…
Almost 6 million people die from tobacco use and 2.5 million from harmful use of alcohol EACH YEAR worldwide. (source)
Let me just add an afterthought at the end that if humans weren’t eating meat, COVID-19 wouldn’t even exist. I’ll just leave that there.
Look, I’m not trying to give you a moral lesson over here, I just want to put things in a little bit of a perspective before you go panic buying cans of beans to the nearest grocery store.
What’s the prospect for the virus in the future? Not ideal and very uncertain, that’s for sure.
According to Healthline, the “cure” it’s going to take herd immunity — which basically blocks out the virus when a large chunk of the population is immune from already being sick — along with an effective vaccine. Until then, the things will probably not calm down, so let’s just cope with them as they come.
COVID-19 will affect the economy, it will affect our day to day life and everything is full of uncertainty. But such was the situation in 2008 when the global economic crisis occurred. And we survived. And most of us will survive this one as well.
Let’s just calm down, stay safe, stay positive and stop being so full of ourselves forgetting that we cannot control everything in the world.
Let’s deal with things as they come.
C’est la vie