The power of the unknown and indolence

di Joe Volpe del March 13, 2020

TORONTO - If knowledge is power, then lack of it – ignorance – is bliss, or more likely, panic. That’s where it appears the world is headed. Prudence, caution, due diligence, virtually discarded to this point, have in the case of the Covid-19 “outbreak” now given way to the inevitable hysteria that accompanies the realization that our approach has been cavalier-like to say the least.

“Can’t and won’t happen to us” best characterizes the “public/ political” opinion that was so pervasive early on in January as the calamitous events were unfolding fi rst in China, then in South Korea, then Italy, then Iran then… Instead of preparing.

Now, when the richest most powerful nation in the world, the USA, is invoking measures best described as “containment” on a massive scale while others are already on a “mitigation” and potentially “remediation” strategy, we are weighing the consequences of our disdain and disregard for the plight of others.

The NBA season is suspended, just as the playoff tournament is about to begin. The NCAA March Madness championship, if it is played, will take place in empty auditoriums. Local governments are declaring “states of emergency”. Schools are closing, concerts are being cancelled and conventions of any type are being deferred to some future date. Everyday commerce is grinding to a halt. Just as in Europe.

There is a “new normal” to how western societies must live their lives – at least in the short and medium term (eighteen months, according to an expert virologist interviewed on CBC).

For those of us in the Western Hemisphere, we have only ourselves to blame. Notwithstanding the measures taken by open democratically governed countries with as advanced health systems we seem to have been blissfully neglectful. And our responses are more indicative of lip service than substance.

For example, Italy has virtually shut down the entire country for the next three weeks and allocated 25 billion euro (CDN $40 billion) to address the “Corona crisis”.

With a population of 60 million, and the eighth largest economy in the world, that sum represents $666 for each man woman and child. Will it be enough?

The rest of Europe is at least two weeks in behind the Italian experience and has committed to spending whatever it takes. How do Canada and the USA measure up? Canada’s 1 billion for its 37 million population is a meagre $27 per capita. The Americans seem to be even worse “prepared”.

They have no testing or reporting mechanism in place commensurate with the Covid-19 peril or how to deal with consequences on the scale seen in Asia or Europe. Their measures are in the nature of tax cuts.

After you wash your hands, cover your mouth, drink plenty of liquids, clean up after yourself and stay away from people one of the most expensive medical research systems in history may come up with a better solution.


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