The charade with the coronavirus outcry

Coronavirus   Positive And Negative File Photo

Tue, 17 Mar 2020 Source: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

The world has gone bonkers because of the coronavirus, and businesses, restaurants, stores, airports, theaters, markets, churches, beaches, parties, and public transportation and public events and festivals have all shut down. There is a strident call for social distancing and the abolition of all forms of human gregariousness………. There is the complete isolation of human societies in ways hitherto uninstigated by any other disease known to humankind.

The purpose of this essay is to assert in the gravest way possible that none of our fears or anxieties are supported by reasoning or logic or even commonsense, and that the global measures we have taken today are not known to stem any disease anywhere at any time. Indeed, to live our lives as we know it while maintaining a high level of personal hygiene and sanitation are the panacea of the coronavirus, as it is for any global viral pandemic afflicting humankind.

The new coronavirus outcry is less than three months old, having begun on December 31, 2019 from Wuhan, China, before spreading its tentacles throughout the world, and becoming present on all continents. A this time of writing, less than 6000 people have died of the disease throughout the whole world, with over 140,000 of globally confirmed cases. (See the World Health Organization’s Situation Report-54) Overall people infected with Covid -19, the flu-like disease brought on by coronavirus have over 90% chance of surviving the disease, with the geriatric population more prone to dying because of underlying preexisting diseases like tuberculosis, diabetes or heart disease.

As daunting as these statistics may appear, the people affected by the coronavirus might well be the least in danger of losing their lives compared to those affected by the top ten killer diseases in the world. An article by John Elflein on August 8, 2019 called “Diseases: Statistics and Facts”, quoting WHO states that chronic diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, with ischemic heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causing millions of death annually.

In 2016, there were 9.43 million deaths from ischemic heart disease and 5.78 million deaths caused by stroke. The number of deaths caused by tuberculosis worldwide was put at 1.3 million whereas that of diabetes was pegged at 1.6 million.

Deaths in the USA from chronic lower respiratory diseases in 2018 hovered around 140,000. (Coronavirus which is an upper respiratory, has killed less than 60 people in the USA). 61,000 people died of the common flu this past year in the USA.

Given the foregoing, it is obvious that the fatalities brought about on account of Covid-19 is comparatively de minimus, and in any ordinary sense, the statistics on that disease alone cannot justify the present global panic and outcry with its concomitant albeit senseless destruction of the entire global economy. As we speak, countries and nations have taken unprecedented and utterly spooky measures to destroy themselves: Grocery stores are empty, world transport and trade have been curtailed, stock markets are crashing, and oil prices have plummeted. The world’s economic order has collapsed and social interaction as we know it is entirely threatened.

The prevailing fear has become so palpable and widespread that it is almost politically incorrect to assert that all these measures so far taken to curb the disease are all wrong-headed and knee-jerk because there is no scintilla of evidence that they have any smidgen of impact on the global spread of the disease.

And because the panic has become almost religious, those urging calm and level-headedness are considered pariahs of the society and outrightly condemned or insulted. I heard a case where somebody was hit on the head for challenging the reality of the Coronavirus and claiming that the alarm was set off by global forces to destroy the economies of countries. Is the general panicking a sort of cure or erotic pleasure?

There is a good reason to be highly skeptical of global hullabaloo. To begin with, those touting and protecting the palpable fear are not even looking at the real numbers involved; or even the statistics of the disease as compared to other killer diseases. If they did, they should be able to allay the global alarm because of the diminutive numbers affected by the disease, as well as its relatively low mortality rate. But where real numbers of deaths are daily published, the psychological effect of causing unwarranted alarm is obvious although unwarranted.

Again, everybody is confessing that we don’t have full knowledge of the nature of the disease. If that is the case, isn’t it a possibility that any tests or actions are all based on incomplete and insufficient knowledge? And is our lack of knowledge is causing us to panic, exactly what is it about. After all, the things we don’t know in this world will always surpass what we know. And must we be in fear simply because of the fear of the unknown? Must we fear tomorrow because we have no knowledge of what it will bring?

All the measures taken against the disease worldwide are dangerous and strike at the core of the global economy itself in a sweeping, overwhelming, senseless and even mischievous manner. And there is no evidence anywhere that these unprecedented measures have any quantifiable value in halting or preventing any disease anywhere at any time. Rather, if one statistically compares the attrition rate of the coronavirus with the cost of the sweeping albeit ineffectual reaction to contain it, one could easily posit that millions will surely die on account of the mass hysteria and fear for the disease alone, but not of the disease itself. Talk about all the businesses that have collapsed on account of the disease; the cinema industries and drinking bars that have closed; the airlines that have cancelled flights and the general inability to travel or to gather together or to live our lives as we know it. And think of the untrammeled powers we have freely vested in our leaders on account of all our fear! The world will pay a heavy price for this foolishness!

But in all these cacophonous reactions and purposeless measures, there is only one thing that makes sense: The fact that keeping a high degree of hygiene and sanitation is the only known way to break the bane of the coronavirus; or to prevent the spread of any known virus for that matter. And since this is the case, the world is better served to stick to this method of prevention and to continue to live our normal lives.

Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

Austin, Texas, USA.

Columnist: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo