Sunday 1 March 2020

Reassurance in the time of Coronavirus

Most people who are not elderly and do not have underlying health conditions will not become critically ill from Covid-19. So says The Guardian today. It will kill the people influenza kills: old people and a few younger people weakened by other severe illnesses. 

It is possible that it will kill ten times as many people as normally die of the flu, but about 50,000 more people than normal died of the flu in the UK in the winter of 2017/2018 and nobody paid any attention. 

It should be noted that the vast majority of COVID-19 cases in China do not involve pneumonia and many people who contract the virus think they have the common cold, which is in the same family of viruses as COVID-19.

Donald Trump got this one right when he likened the virus to a strain of flu. This brilliant little blog post explains more.

Why are we so scared? A human need for an eschatology (belief in the last days of the world). Perhaps a deep cultural fear of Europe's competitor, the Chinese? I forget the name of the virus from India that killed big numbers. The fact that I have forgotten it is because it was hardly reported. Ebola continues to kill but far away from Europe and is forgotten.

However if the fears about the virus are greatly exaggerated the fears themselves are very real, very important and could cause a world-wide recession, even conceivably the calamity of President Sanders.

Politicians will use this for politics and to injure their opponents because that is what politicians do. The mainstream media nowadays are political actors too and do the same.  The left-wing press complains that fears about the virus are racist, but the next moment says that Donald Trump is doing nothing about this huge problem. Still, he always knows exactly how to play his opponents like a fiddle and they never work out how to play him.


  1. Maybe it would be a good thing if Sanders won. He would be a huge disaster and that would put people off from socialism again.

  2. "UN admits for first time that peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti
    Ban Ki-moon said deadly outbreak that killed up thousands ‘leaves a blemish’ on United Nations’ reputation, ending six years of refusing to claim responsibility"

  3. UN 'peacekeepers' brought cholera to Haiti when they were transferred from Nepal to assist with rescue work, in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, and the UNlater raised hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in combatting the epidemic it created. It spread around the Caribbean and took nine years to eradicate in Haiti. The UN refuses to pay damages.

  4. Why are we so scared? A human need for an eschatology (belief in the last days of the world). Perhaps a deep cultural fear of Europe's competitor, the Chinese?

    I do think it has a lot to do with Sinophobia.

    Sinophobia has become a national hysteria in Australia over the past decade.

    Basically it's wishful thinking - if enough of those nasty yellow Chinamen die then China will collapse, and then white Europeans can go back to ruling the world. This is obviously the case with right-wingers. I think it's also true subconsciously of a lot of liberals, who think that white liberals should run the world.

    It amuses me that people seriously believe that whites are now fanatically antiracist. This is absolute nonsense. You only have to look at American and British foreign policy to see that xenophobia and jingoism are alive and well in the modern West. And these xenophobic foreign policies are popular with the masses in the US and Britain. And, sadly, in Australia.

    Most whites would prefer the Chinese to go back to being obsequious coolies.

  5. Julietta Mihai: Since nobody, including China that has 93,(3)% of the deaths caused by coronavirus, provided statistics about the #medical conditions, age, living circumstances, personal hygiene, etc. of the covid19 victims , it seems stressful and non scientific to draw conclusions about the targeted #patients. Where are the statistics about the dead Chinese not having pneumonia? What if they had diabetes, or cancer, or other immunity deficiency related severe diseases? More info is needed, why nobody provides such info in order to allow us to scientifically approach the problem? "All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason."

  6. Dominic Johnson comments: 'It's very good, my only technical point would be that rhinoviruses cause about 50% of colds, parainfluenza, influenza and other viruses also cause colds; so coronaviruses do cause colds, but a minority. I enjoyed the use of the word eschatology.'