Saturday 7 March 2020

How old are the people dying of the Corona virus?

As far as we yet know, the Corona virus will kill the people flu kills - that is, frail, old people weakened by pre-existing severe illness. All deaths are regrettable, but why the hysteria?

I asked this question of the wisest of my friends, Yorkshireman Dominic Johnson, because he is a vet, and he replied

People like a palaver. Remember when Jacob-Creuzfeld disease was going to turn everyone who had ever eaten a hamburger's brain to mush?
Yorkshire vets are down to earth and unfazed. Everyone else also responds as you'd expect. 

My conspiracy theorist friend asks if the virus is a CIA biological weapon. (I ask him how the CIA intends to restrict its effects to China and Iran and he replies airily that he was just asking a question.) 

I respond to the virus like the Tory sceptic I am. 

The left, who are by definition conspiracy theorists, think all problems, even diseases, can be solved by goodwill and brains, which they possess, if only wicked, occult forces allowed it. They are moving  from thinking it is racist to worry about the virus to thinking it is somehow the fault of President Trump. (After three and a bit years 'President Trump' still sounds odd.) They do not blame Communist China, I note, or globalisation, of which they and the rich approve. 

Will Hutton in the Observer talks about 
a wholesale abdication of global leadership over Coronavirus
and jumps to this.
It is the triumph of nationalism and anti-Enlightenment values across the world. So of course Johnson, leader of the supremely anti-Enlightenment and nationalist Brexit project, complete with its disdain for experts, gave a press conference last week in which he could not call for an internationally coordinated response and the rebuilding of European and international public health capacity.
Since people are being hysterical they should have the courage of their hysteria, but they don't. Italy seems to be where most cases are in Europe, so why are the Italian borders not sealed? Instead, the Romanian Government rather limply asks Romanians in Italy not to come home for Easter and flights from Romania to Italy are being reduced but not stopped. 

Note: since writing this the Italians have imposed fines on people entering or leaving an area including Lombardy, Parma, Modena, Padua and Venice. The restrictions are to be in place until at least April 3. Good for them. The number of dead in Lombardy has risen over the past day to 257 from 154, a worrying jump.


  1. so why the hysteria?

    I think it's the nature of democracy and mass media. They turn people into hysterical children. Since WW2 we have had endless outbreaks of mass hysteria and one conspiracy theory after another. It has nothing to do with left or right. The Right is just as prone to this sort of nonsense as the Left.

    Do you remember the satanic ritual abuse hysteria of the 80s?

  2. It is in the nature of freedom and freedom of speech that outbursts of hysteria happen. But this thing began in a very undemocratic Communist dictatorship. I imagine people in China are as worried as people in the democracies and they do not, if they have any sense, trust their media. Nor of course should we trust our media very much - we now see that the media everywhere are political actors.

    1. It is in the nature of freedom and freedom of speech that outbursts of hysteria happen. But this thing began in a very undemocratic Communist dictatorship.

      Yeah but the Chinese people were reacting to a real situation. There's hysteria in the West even in countries that are virtually unaffected. In Australia at the moment you can't buy toilet paper or any antibacterial cleaning product, even though antibacterial agents are useless against a virus.

      Democracy and western media create hysteria over non-existent problems. And democracy and western media make people more emotionally driven and irrational. The Chinese are wise to reject democracy.

  3. Charles Murray
    A practical political question for Dems: Why pile on Trump now re the virus? If the virus goes viral, as it were, _then_ savage him. But if you pile on now and the pandemic turns out to be not a big deal, you've handed him a golden "I was right again.".

  4. Romania and Italy have aging populations. You are not young yourself. Think twice before pooh-poohing efforts to protect people over 60.