Covid infection and death rates are worsening by the day but we're still eerily calm

Asia's Tech News Daily

Ask her about the statistics! Ask her about the damn stats! In the latest episode of my increasingly frequent tendency to shout angrily at the telly, I was directing my ire at BBC Breakfast’s usual “Covid experts” slot.

The excellent Linda Bauld, a professor of public health at Edinburgh University, was – as ever – answering every question with her rare mix of actual knowledge and excellent communication skills. However, she could not answer the question she was not asked, the one that is staring us all in the face: why are our Covid infection and death rates so bad? Instead, they moved on to discussing the tank top that her fellow expert, the virologist Dr Chris Smith, was wearing.

If Bauld had been asked, she might have answered as she did to a newspaper this week. “We’re in a phase where we still have large numbers of people dying from this disease,” said Bauld (inset). “But it has gone into the background. We’ve become used to something that has not gone away. I think there’s been a desensitisation to the mortality.”

© Provided by The i Despite more deaths and infections, people are declining to maintain any social distancing or refusing to wear a mask in confined public spaces

Amid calls to do away with the daily Covid statistics roll-call, it’s an interesting question: have we become desensitised? Tired of hearing about it, are we in danger of just wishing Covid away in the face of stark, real evidence that infection rates are shooting up again?

Why are our infection numbers (43,423 at time of writing) 10 times those of France, Italy and Spain, five times that of Germany? Why is the latest death tally of 148 so much higher than in those same countries?

The general scientific consensus appears to be that our pursuing a “vaccine only” containment strategy is simply not enough – particularly as our once stellar rate of vaccinations has stalled. We are more hesitant to inoculate our young than some other countries.

Our hospitality industry, major sports and the music industry all seem back to what passes for normal, with no restrictions in place. Shops and other workplaces have reopened, with little to no restrictions in the former and in the case of schools, none at all. And, unlike the reports from friends and family in Italy, Germany, France and Spain, the evidence of our own eyes suggests that despite the constant exhortation to do so, we simply will not wear masks unless we are legally forced to.

© Provided by The i Read More – Featured Image

This is what living under libertarianism means. One person’s insistence on not vaccinating themselves or their children, declining to maintain any social distancing, or refusal to wear a mask in confined public spaces results in another person’s increased chances of catching the virus. We are paying for our own bloody-mindedness; our belief that we won’t catch it despite the mountain of scientific evidence on one side, or it’s not such a big deal if we do, will prevail.

Meanwhile, the rate of hospital admissions and the strain on the NHS increases – fast. We trundle inexorably towards some reintroduction of restrictions: a return to homeworking, perhaps social distancing and maybe mask-wearing legislation. It will all cue inevitable outrage when the PM reveals he can’t just joke Covid away. Much more puzzling to me is why we are not more outraged now?

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