After Lockdown

I was supposed to be writing something today, but now it turns out I don’t have to, so, seeing as I’m sat here at my desk with nothing pressing to do, here’s what’s been going through my head on the subject of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I believe strong measures had to be taken early. A few countries did this, many didn’t, and it looks like those that did made the right move. It’s important to note that those who did were required to ignore the advice of the WHO, a compromised organsisation that was assisting the Chinese regime as it went about obscuring the facts.

Taiwan did all the right things, because Taiwan’s very existence as an independent nation is threatened by the Chinese Communist Party, and so it sees through CCP obfuscation as a matter of survival.

As a result of which, Taiwan, for its troubles, is not allowed to join the WHO, which is loyal to the Chinese regime. And Taiwan was snubbed by the WHO when it offered advice in the early days of the outbreak that contradicted the messaging coming from the CCP and being repeated by the WHO.

This is, quite simply, a scandal.

Moving on (as the WHO no doubt would like to), something with as many unknowns and rapid changes as this pandemic is not a situation in which to simply set up in one political camp and yell at those in the other. What’s good one moment may not be appropriate the next, and so we come to the problems associated with lockdown implementation.

Lockdowns appeared to me to be an appropriate response. A short-term, desperate measure, but a necessary one.

What troubles me now, though, is that to voice concern about civil liberties and economic impact has become somehow beyond the bounds of acceptable opinion.

Youtube announces that it will not allow content that contradicts the WHO, and yet we can all see that countries that contradicted the WHO made the right decision. Facebook and Medium also restrict what can and can’t be said, along similar lines.

To be prevented from contradicting authority is not acceptable in free societies. To be prevented from contradicting authority, when your business has been shut down and you’re prevented from leaving your home, in line with the advice given by that authority, (and by the way it’s an unelected authority that appears, as mentioned, to be politically compromised) should raise alarms.

We have a medical emergency, which varies in the degree of its severity from place to place, but we are not at war.

And that leads to another point: the degree to which this emergency varies. In fact, it varies so much that it would be wrong, in some places, to refer to it as an emergency, while in others it is devastating.

One place where it’s been horrifyingly bad is New York, which also happens to be a media hub. And so let’s be cautious about how we respond to news coming from New York, and aware of how the city’s outsized media presence can skew the bigger picture.

Reports from New York are gruelling, but it’s one of the worst case scenarios, receiving intense coverage. We should be moved, we should care, but we should maintain perspective.

There may be all kinds of reasons why severity varies between locations, and of note is that there is now research indicating that the virus has mutated into different strains, and that they are not equally dangerous.

Might it be that we have different mutations of the virus, but that even places where mild strains are prevalent are basing their reactions on the very worst outbreaks of the most severe strains?

And that simultaneously, regular citizens are being warned off mentioning such possibilities if they happen to contradict WHO recommendations?

Contrary to opinion deemed admissible in authoritarian Silicon Valley, There are indications that Sweden’s approach, far short of a full lockdown, is working.

There are those who say that the virus follows the same cycle, whether or not a severe lockdown is implemented.

In Tokyo, It’s been over two weeks since a state of emergency, but not a lockdown, was declared, and the total number of COVID-19 deaths remains in double digits, 71 in a population of over 13 million.

Is this because Japan has been visited by a less severe strain of the virus? Is it because almost everyone wears a mask every time they go out? Is it something else entirely?

We don’t know, but it surely suggests that all options and alternatives must be considered.

Finally, enough of the moral posturing. With a very few strange exceptions, everyone wants to save lives, and it’s overly simplistic to dismiss concerns about the economy as lacking in compassion.

‘The economy’ consists of people. Why should I not be concerned that local businesses are in danger? Those shops are owned by people like me, members of a community, with bills to pay and families to support. And perhaps we value their shops, and don’t want the bars and cafes–the texture and fabric of a shared place–to board up and disappear.

It’s very easy for those who have the luxury of working from home to chastise those that don’t, but I can’t get on board with that. People have to work, they have to make a living, and not everyone can do so via wi-fi. There are workers who get by through making and delivering those pizzas you’re ordering.

We have to move forward, consider all viewpoints and options, and speak freely.

6 comments

  1. Sam I’ve followed you for a few years now on Twitter, always enjoyed your point of view on things, but this is one of your best. Your clarity and nuance are rare traits these days.

    Liked by 1 person

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