Scary times and one or two things that might make you feel a little better
It’s scary isn’t it?
Of course, I’m referring to Coronavirus… or COVID-19 as it’s more formally known.
It seems to be the only thing people are talking about of late. And it’s not surprising considering some of the horror stories we’re hearing. I jokingly referred to the news as the Coronavirus Show a couple of weeks ago and nothing has changed. In fact, it’s recently been renewed for its twelfth season. No matter where you look, it’s wall-to-wall COVID-19.
Wall-to-wall depression and fear.
Now, unlike some of your Facebook friends… I’m not suddenly an expert virologist. I don’t know anything specific about widescale pandemics and the science behind them. I watch the news and I like to think I have a reasonable amount of common sense but that’s all the qualifications I have.
I like to think of myself as practical and pragmatic. I don’t frighten easily. I don’t stock up on toilet paper or a hundred tins of sweetcorn just in case the supply chains break. I don’t run to the bank and extract all my money.
My methodology is more wait and see.
But I must admit that the recent news has affected me in ways I didn’t think it would. I feel lethargic, I think twice before I go out, I worry about my parents and other vulnerable people all the time, sleep isn’t coming as easily as it did. I feel heavy and distracted… all the time.
I realised today that the endless supply of COVID-19 news and data was suffocating me. The never-ending onslaught of people wondering what will happen and in shock over what is happening has gotten to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in a blind panic. It’s more an underlying feeling of concern. And knowledge that the feeling won’t go away anytime soon. We’re in this for the long-haul and I don’t like uncertainty.
And so, I decided to write down a few things to calm myself.
Before I dive into them, this is by no means a balanced picture of the COVID-19 situation. This is me attempting to look on the bright side. This is the rose-coloured sunglasses approach. Yes, there’s plenty of misery and suffering out there. But there’s also some good and no one is talking about it.
The news, rightly and wrongly, is a constantly updating stream of disaster.
But there is some good to be found if you look hard enough.
We all know that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at the highest risk. But the good news is that children seem to have a much lower risk, far fewer getting seriously ill and so far (to our knowledge) no deaths. Google informs me there are 617 million elderly people in the world, but 2.2 billion children.
Obviously, it’s wonderful news that children aren’t getting that ill, but this is positive in another way. It helps with herd immunity. One of the reasons that COVID-19 is racing through the population is because it’s a brand-new virus and no one has immunity to it yet. But, the more people who get it and recover from it, the more we build up herd immunity. Although, it’s true that a LOT of people would need to be infected and then subsequently recover in order for herd immunity to be effective.
Vaccines have already been developed. You don’t hear about that much in the endless wall of news. But they have, in multiple countries. Testing will take a while and then production too, but we’re getting somewhere on that front. And every day more data, and more scientists, come together from all over the world to share information and work together to find a working vaccine.
People are finally washing their hands. At last. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve used a public bathroom and watched in despair as a grown woman walked out of the cubicle and out of the bathroom with not even a glance at sink. Now, washing hands is cool. And on that note, with all these people recently introduced to the idea of washing hands… may I advise buying stock in moisturiser companies. Not Nivea, they’re homophobic. But someone else. Because soon these people will wonder why their hands feel like SAND.
This will end.
I think that one is very important to remember. In the Western world, we’re all ramping up towards what seems to be Domesday. But this will end, and yes some people will unfortunately die. But this will end and it could be so much worse.
The majority of us will experience mild symptoms, if we catch it at all. Deaths are highest amongst the elderly but even 90% of the over-80s who catch it will recover. It’s not possible to know the mortality rate at the moment, but it is low.
This is a good time to mention facts and figures. I’m going to start ignoring them, completely. An ongoing tally of how many people are infected and how many have died is not going to settle my anxiety in the slightest. Moreover, we all know these figures are massively underreported. So many people get and recover from COVID-19 with never having been tested that we have no way of knowing how many people actually have or had it. And with so many people having such mild cases that they never got tested, that is again a positive point about herd mentality.
I’m seeing a lot of questioning of different tactics. I heard a man in his 60s at the post office say that we in the UK need to do what they are doing in Italy. As much as Reg no doubt knows about the infection pattern of a largely unknown virus… I respectfully disagree. Looking to other countries and wondering if we should do the same isn’t going to help. Having loud discussions in the post office about quarantining everyone is going to lead to panic buying and nothing else. Each country is handling this different because each country is fundamentally different. Our personalities as a nation, how we cope with things, our health service, our preparedness, how many infections… all of this goes into developing a plan. A plan that Reg in the post office doesn’t understand.
And when this is over, and it will be, and we’re getting back to normal, which we will, questions will be asked about how this happened and what can be done to stop this happening again in the future. Japan, for example, is responding to this crisis in a very different way because they have been through the SARS epidemic of 2002-4 and have a system in place. This could be the catalyst to strengthen health systems around the world.
So, yes, there’s a lot to be depressed about. And there’s a lot more to come before things get better. I’m in no way saying we shouldn’t be worried. I fully understand the gravity of the situation, especially as someone with underlying health conditions and elderly parents. But if I allow myself to fall into a pattern of endless worry, I may never get up again.
I need to keep reminding myself that there are some bright points. And things will get better in due course.
In the meantime, wash your hands and try to remember the positive.