? Act now- Hammer the curve down ! ?
It is usual, for ordinary mortals like us, to bumble along life without giving a rat’s ass about most things that doesn’t directly concern us.
It is usual to be in denial. It is a good coping mechanism. Trump tried it, and now he is swimming in deep piles of alimentary waste.
But it is time to wake up. Jump up and down. Turn somersaults. Shake off that last vestiges of sleep and inertia from your being. The time to act has arrived.
Why do new viruses come?
There are viruses everywhere. They can sleep inside other animals, and bats are one of those mammals, in which, for a number of physiological reasons, numerous ones lie dormant, awaiting their turn.
A change in the gene code, can create a new strain that can infect humans. It happens all the time. Corona viruses usually cause the common cold, and they have been causing mild human illnesses for a long time. But occasionally, a new strain can occur. SARS and MERS were caused by such strains.
Influenza viruses change often. In 2009, a new H1N1 strain caused a global pandemic. The Spanish flu of 1918 killed 50 million people worldwide.
The new corona virus causing COVID19 is just one of these cosmic accidents, just like a fart inside a lift, or a sudden kick in the back.
It causes a flu like illness, has a mortality at a minimum of 1 to 2 percent. But around 10 percent requires a hospital, and 5 percent needs intensive care.
A seasonal flu has a mortality rate of less than 1 percent. So the new corona is ten to twenty times more lethal than that.
But some strains of severe seasonal flu has got one percent mortality. That is one reason, some, like Trump, tried to downplay COVID 19.
Now we come to the real issue. A flu can never cause such widespread illness USUALLY, because most people HAVE ALREADY HAD an episode before. There will be some cross resistance to even a new strain of the virus.
But this corona virus is sufficiently changed- enough to consider it as completely new, immunologically. That means, ALL of humanity is susceptible.
And it is highly infectious, just like, or even more than the flu.
So, once community spread starts, the number of cases increase exponentially. It can be frightening. And it can overwhelm any health system. Look at Europe. Look at the USA. They have capacities that we can never match. They are struggling. At the height of the epidemic, it is possible that a considerable number of health workers get infected. This can cause the death rate to go up considerably.
As more people recover, a portion becomes immune. Then the epidemic starts to wane. But these weeks can wreck our social systems. Even law and order can be affected.
At the scale at which this could happen, it is a statistical inevitability that many young men and women will have their lives snuffed out in the prime of their life.
Only two things can make the curve flatter, so that the health system can cope.
One is personal hygiene. This is spread by droplets, and washing our hands with soap and water, and avoiding touching your face in between can help.
But the most important thing is social distancing. Don’t touch people. Don’t shake hands. Maintain minimum one metre distance from all others. Strictly avoid large gatherings.
How do we do that?
All of us have to act now, and the governments too. Prudent step by step lockdown of places where people flock is important. But supply chains needs to be maintained. This is a process that can take months, and hence the wheels of commerce should run, but at a considerably muted level.
This calls for spirited and rational governance. what we cannot afford is denial.
Let us flatten the curve.