A few days ago I went into a shop to ask a question about one of their products. The door was automatic, and my hands were in my pockets when walking in.
“I would like to …” I managed to say before the clerk pointed his finger at me.
“I am not allowed to talk to you unless you disinfect your hands for coronavirus!”
There were around five meters between us, and he had a glass plate as a ‘corona shield’.
“But I don’t need to touch anything,” I said. “I just have a question.”
“Sorry,” he said. “You need to disinfect your hands before I can answer.”
“But hundreds of random people have touched the button on the alcohol dispenser,” I said looking at the dispenser by the door. “This button might be infectious.”
“Then be happy that you can disinfect your hands afterwards,” he said.
On my way home, I had a rash on my hands from the disinfectant. Scratching my hands, I started to consider if it wouldn’t be better to become infected with the virus now. Right now everything is closed, and I have time to sit in my house alone for two weeks. Corona is the new flu, and because it cannot be contained, it will surely come back again and again in seasonal outbreaks. It seems that some people have a rough experience when having it the first time. After the first time you might not be permanently immune, but surely the second time there will be less fear, stress and bodily reaction. It doesn’t sound like a good idea having to hide away every year in fear that I am one of those who cannot handle it. When it finally catches up with me, I might be old enough to be in the high-risk group. In the near future, a vaccine might be developed, but like the flu vaccine, it is natural to assume that it will not work on everyone and will not protect for more than a few months at a time. Isolation while teaching my own body to develop antibodies felt like the safest option.
I understand that many people feel unsafe when confronted with something new, but what happens when we put the fatality numbers into perspective? Nearly 1.25 million healthy people die in road crashes each year, on average, 3,287 deaths a day. Why not put a little counter in the corner of everyone’s browser reminding us to keep safe in traffic? We have around 800.000 suicides every year. Opposite corona victims, many of these people are young and completely healthy. There are around three to five million severe influenza cases each year and about 290,000 to 650,000 deaths. These numbers are rarely mentioned anywhere. I am not presented with a daily count of victims, but how would it make me feel if I was? During the constant flu-war the media doesn’t show pictures of coffins, doesn’t write about it as a war and they don’t describe the pain and the grief. On Google, there are hardly any hits if you search the term “influenza survivor”. Who were all these flu-victims, and how did they die without the press going haywire? Is it possible that most of the corona-victims would have died from influenza anyway? I don’t have the answer, but maybe we will get it sometime later.
And the winners are …
According to research in Iceland, half of the people catching the virus have very light or no symptoms. These numbers suggest that the mortality rate is far lower than estimated by the WHO. For years television, newspapers and other media have been struggling to survive, but the coronavirus is a gamechanger for them. The virus creates the perfect conditions to spread panic creating lots of attention from readers and viewers. The way the virus is presented on television and computers gives it a feel and suspense of a Hollywood blockbuster. Death tolls are reported live in combination with heart-breaking stories from a corona-war presented on maps showing how the enemy is progressing while applying a paranoia to everyone who reads about it. When looking into the numbers, it seems like the average mortality age among the victims is 80,3 years. This is not far from the average life expectancy age in most countries. Most of the victims are not killed by the coronavirus but are dying from a combination of reasons. It would be fair to say that they didn’t die of the coronavirus, but with the coronavirus.
What are the effects of the cure?
I cannot even begin to imagine the collateral damages of what is happening these days. How is the lockdown going to inflict human depression or a sense of meaninglessness while missing human contact? What happens when we all have an excellent excuse for being selfish and introvert? How many will take their own lives following the depression of losing everything, feeling isolated and lonely? How many will develop social phobia or OCD that forces them to wash and clean their hands constantly? How many ideologists or religious groups will use the situation to promote ideas hostile to democracy — like legalizing phone companies to track citizens to help stem the spread of the virus. Now is also a great time to suggest laws against sex-clubs, bars, partying, threesomes, orgies, sex-dating and other so-called sinful activities.
If something breaks down, something else will be able to grow, and within all kinds of pain and suffering, there is a healing aspect. Thanks to the new situation, a rigid society has to show flexibility, and we are forced into a new mindset. For the first time in history, countries are no longer at war with each other but have to support each other in a war against an enemy that cannot be argued with. Because of this, we can shift our focus to a new and healthier kind of paranoia that might even have a longterm effect of uniting the world. For year countries have been arguing who should make the first step of taking responsibility for the environment. Now we no longer have to wait for the others to be first movers. Everyone is acting out of fear that they are going to be accountable for the victims of the coronavirus.
During all of this, my own investments basically collapsed. Losing most of my money within a few days triggered many interesting existential questions. For years I have been travelling all over the world without much reflection. Now I am suddenly grounded in my home-country hanging out in my own company while being caught up by my soul. I would be happy to spend time with my parents now, but they are old and in panic, so they are afraid of having visitors. Losing most of my material wealth highlighted the most important aspects of my life. My ability to breathe, think, love and enjoy the freedom of having a playful mind. If this could be the consequence for millions of people all over the world, we might all come out of this as winners.