Right now, South East Asia is on lockdown, or it will be soon. The UK variant made its arrival about six weeks ago — and boy does this variant move FAST! So we’ve been in self-imposed isolation for a month already, Malaysia has been locked down for some time before, and Singapore is about to head into tighter restrictions too.
Naturally, everyone in this part of the world is pissed. Fair enough, because by and large, it’s been taken seriously — we all stayed home, wore masks, didn’t travel, and more.
But this virus has never respected borders, and an illegal entry across the border from Cambodia was all it took to make it into Thailand. In Singapore, I’m not sure how it got in, but it did and they ain’t happy. I don’t blame them.
All around the world, millions of people have done the right thing since this started, whereas millions of others have not done the right thing, often because they have leaders with an inability to grasp the seriousness of this crisis.
Can you blame those of us who did the right thing for feeling annoyed? However I also continue to struggle with the logic of what’s going on around the world.
Let’s step back and bullet this out
- When you look at the history of pandemics, they are typically a two-year cycle
- This pandemic, it feels there is more confidence it’ll be over faster, because we got the vaccines done super-fast! But that’s not how it’s playing out, is it?
- Yes we’ve got the vaccines, but this is bigger and more widespread than past pandemics — I mean, we weren’t all flying back in 1918! International travel is what sent this virus everywhere and well, people are still travelling. I mean the UK stopped flights from India last Friday, but they’ve been allowing 30/day up until then, and guess what, the India variant is spreading around the UK
- As I said at the start and will again — we need to STOP movement. Just for a month everywhere. Give ourselves time to work out where it is, so we can stop it in its tracks. Then we can focus on who needs the most help. Oh and rich countries, please prioritize getting the vaccine to poorer countries — because until it’s over everywhere, it’s not over anywhere — been saying that for 15 months too
- Of course, it appears flying citizens home continues to be a priority, so can we at least make the quarantine process effective? Australia is a shambles! Then again, there is no tighter ship than Singapore and it still got out!
- With Covid 19, we can never rest on our laurels. No one is lucky in this pandemic, and thinking you’ve made it is a very moronic thing to say — as we have seen in India! And now in SE Asia
Let’s address the data
Because everyone is furious, the arguments against quarantine or even continuing to fight Covid are coming back, trying to get governments to understand it’s time to move on and get back to business. These arguments haven’t changed since the start and they frustrated me then too.
Twelve months ago, I suggested looking at past pandemic data! Now we have the data and the same arguments are being raised. The one that frustrates me the most?
Influenza deaths versus Covid deaths. Now in countries who have managed this well, the data looks good. BUT in countries who haven’t, the data looks bad!
COVID-19: There have been approximately 3,346,827 deaths reported worldwide. In the U.S, 584,495 people have died of COVID-19 between January 2020 and May 14, 2021.*
Flu: The World Health Organization estimates that 290,000 to 650,000 people die of flu-related causes every year worldwide.
Conclusion, if you’re in a country where influenza deaths are higher than COVID deaths that means your country has done a good job. You are lucky to be living there! It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue what you’re doing. Look at the history of pandemics. This is the historical point in pandemics where everyone has had enough and guess what? Guaranteed new deathly wave. We have to hold the line! We must.
But there’s more. Global excess deaths are at around 12–13 million on the higher end. And we’re nowhere near the end of this. India is in a second wave, and historically, third waves are more brutal. It’s hard to imagine it being more brutal.
Variants and mutations
The other point is variants and mutations. Thailand had the first infection outside of mainland China. That initial impact on Thailand was not brutal. The second wave over Christmas was over pretty fast too.
This third one? It has blown my mind how quick it’s moving, and friends have caught it engaging in normal life — lunch at a restaurant, a quick trip to the supermarket. It’s a different beast.
Whether we like it or not, viruses are clever and they constantly evolve. They want to thrive in their human hosts and they’re good at it. Whether it gets better or worse is always at play, which is why we need to get it under control. Who knows what it could mutate into? That is why we must stop it.
The biggest threat we face right now is allowing it to continuously mutate, especially if it mutates out of being treatable by the current batch of vaccines, because then we’ll have to go back to the start and do it all over again.
Do you want to do that? I don’t! I know it’s hard. I’m pissed off, you’re pissed off, we’re all pissed off.
All we ever needed to do from the beginning of this crisis is do everything we could to get it under control, and it’s what we still need to do! The best way to get it under control is everything stops. Everyone stays where they are.
Then get as many people vaccinated, everywhere in the world, to stop the mutations. All of our energy needs to be focused on this and we need to be patient until it’s done.
Equally, if you live in a country that can take care of you, you’re already better off than the vast majority of people who’ve been impacted by this pandemic — whether with the virus or economically. Developing countries could never afford to sustain their populations for the long term, whereas wealthier developed countries can. So by not addressing this as a global community, all that’s happening is it’s more painful for people with the least.
The people suffering the most are the people who are poor. They are suffering like you would not believe. And so our family is staying home for them, because we want to take care of them. I want life opened up so they can get back to work. They need their economy back. They need their businesses back. They need to be able to feed their families, they need to be able to take care of their families.
Here’s what it looks like on the ground
Overrun hospitals are BAD
Finally, how the hell can we think about getting back to normal, while hospitals are being overrun? Here’s an example of what that means. I’ve been speaking with friends all over India and everyone has lost members of their extended families, many of them young people. The most common death I’ve heard are from blood clots in lungs or hearts. BUT if the hospitals weren’t so overrun, all of these people would be alive today.
THAT is why you keep a virus under control. It means people are able to get access to the medical care they need. An overrun hospital is not a good thing at all.
I wish this time was different, but it isn’t. Everyone I know has worked hard to overcome Covid, and yes it probably will be a permanent part of our future. But it won’t be part of our future until we get to the point where at least 80% of the global population gets the jab. It’s the only way to stop the variants spreading.
So let’s do it. Stay home, do everything you can. That’s what it’s about. That’s what it’s always been about. And we need to do it everywhere. And we need to make sure that all countries in the world are supported, getting enough medicine and oxygen, and also the vaccines. Can we just get on with it, please?
In the meantime, focus on your mind health. This will be a two-year cycle and it’s just so much easier when you accept that. I promise. Go create something you’ve always wanted to do!
What do you think?
Coming soon — Uncommon Courage
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