The selective pandemic and its lockdown

6th May 2020 / United Kingdom
The selective pandemic and its lockdown

By TruePublica: As at the time of writing, the COVID-19 global pandemic has officially infected 3.6 million people and killed 252,000. It would be true to say this is an under-estimate for all manner of reasons and the reality is that those infected and those that die of it will never really be known. The infection rate is meaningless because entire populations cannot be tested and then retested. The death rate is meaningless because around 95 per cent of those that die did so with quite serious ongoing health conditions. It seems heartless to say so but many would have died within weeks or months anyway. And many will die because they never sought medical help when they should have.

One thing we do know is that we are fearful in the face of the unknown. The cost of fighting this pandemic is not known. So far, about $6trillion has been put forward by governments around the world to protect their economies. The cost to the overall global economy as we move further out is also unknown but it is huge. So huge, that for the first time since the Great Depression, a major global recession is expected. It is expected to eclipse that of the 2008 bank-led financial crisis and the decade long austerity drive that followed it. In fact, there is evidence that this event has already overtaken it. The ongoing fight against the virus is likely to take at least another year by which time tens of trillions would have been thrown at attempting to save economies. From one perspective, you could say that life is priceless and therefore we should, as a civilised species, fight the virus with everything we have – and be proud of that fact alone.

However, human nature is such that lockdowns will fail, especially in Western democracies. In the end, some governments will end lockdowns for fear of political reprisals (from both internal and external pressures) or mass demonstrations and civil disobedience. The human species, contrary to everything being written about its kindness in this crisis is merely temporary.  Our societies have been built around the ideology of individualism, of winner takes all. It is a fact that selfishness drives our large societies.

This selfishness means we all contribute to what makes the world the way it is. We turn the other way from mass death, misery and destruction when we can afford to or more especially when it won’t affect us personally.

We know this because we never called for a global effort on other much more deadly responses to our species populating and exploiting the planet as it does. We don’t even put much of an effort in domestically.

In Britain, nearly 100,000 people die every year of things we could prevent if we actually chose to do so.

For instance, air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year. This number is a matter of fact, not speculation (source). In 2016, the NHS looked at studies carried out and concluded that 40,000 people die every year in the UK from pollution (source).

An average of 9,700 deaths each year are known to be caused by living in a cold house, according to research by National Energy Action (NEA) and the environmental group E3G. That is as many as those whose lives are cut short by breast or prostate cancer. We throw billions at cancer care treatment and nothing at these identifiable cold homes. While, sadly, we do not have the ability to cure all forms of cancer, we do have the means to ensure those at risk have a warm home (source).

An academic report originally published in 2013, then updated in 2018, found that obesity and its complications currently kills more people than road traffic accidents, terrorist attacks and Alzheimer’s disease combined. In England, the numbers of overweight/obese adults increased from 36 to 62 per cent between 1980 and 2013 (source). That’s just over 40,000 people a year who die through the health complications of over-eating.

And we knew all these facts years ago.

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Then there are those things we could combat if we wanted to as a species but we choose as a society not to.

In 2018 it was calculated that an estimated 6.2 million children and adolescents under the age of 15 years died, mostly from preventable causes. Of these deaths, 5.3 million occurred in the first 5 years, with almost half of these in the first month of life. Leading causes of death in children under-5 years are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, congenital anomalies, diarrhoea and malaria. Nearly half of these deaths are in newborns. (source).

Then there are those things we actively allow by looking the other way or even support our own government to pursue for geopolitical grandstanding and grabbing other peoples resources. Here are two perspectives:

John Pilger: A pandemic has been declared, but not for the 24,600 who die every day from unnecessary starvation, and not for 3,000 children who die every day from preventable malaria, and not for the 10,000 people who die every day because they are denied publicly-funded healthcare, and not for the hundreds of Venezuelans and Iranians who die every day because America’s blockade denies them life-saving medicines, and not for the hundreds of mostly children bombed or starved to death every day in Yemen, in a war supplied and kept going, profitably, by America and Britain. Before you panic, consider them.

Craig Murray: The neo-con drive to dominate the Middle East, has caused an apocalyptic level of death and destruction. It really is very difficult indeed to quantify the number of people killed as a direct result of the policy of “liberal intervention” in these countries. Bombing people into freedom has collateral damage. There are also the vast unintended consequences. The destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria launched a wave of refugee migration which led to political instability throughout Europe and contributed to, among many other consequences, Brexit. I am going to put an extremely conservative figure of 5 million on the number of people who died as a result of Western military intervention, direct or proxy, in the Middle East. Now compare that to the worldwide death toll from coronavirus: 220,000. Let me say that again. Western aggressive wars to coronavirus: 5,000,000 : 220,000.

And let’s not forget the fossil fuel driven catastrophe that continues to unfold right before our eyes or the effects on our world through the use of, say, plastics.

So there’s a truth about this pandemic. When we get to the other side of it, a few things will have changed – but we humans won’t. All that we are reading about, that declares the fight is on for the environment, for a new form of capitalism, or for the reorganization of society simply won’t happen. We’ve already had a mini practice run. After the week-long global pause due to the events of 9/11 – we initially read about how clear the skies became and were amazed by it. Then we got straight back in, polluted the skies more than ever and bombed an entire region to get at its oil resources.

The environment will get back to being polluted, the exploitation of natural resources and of people will continue and people will die in their millions because of it every year. This is a disease that we chose to call a pandemic but it means little in the cold light of reality or logic and put in a global context.


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