Illustration by Dubout, Le Malade Imaginaire, Imprimerie Nationale, André Sauret, 1954

A month and a half ago, my two children, my wife and my parents in law and I have all been infected by Covid. Aside fear, none of us have had nothing, aside a bit of headache, some tiredness and muscle soreness. I started to look at some data on internet to understand if we were particularly lucky or blessed. How had we survived so easily this deadly pandemic?

While apparently 89% of the people having had the Covid haven’t show more consequences than the loss of their sense of smell for a few weeks (I still only smell at 70% of my smelling capacity before Covid); our governments and public health authorities seem to appreciate the flavor of the power induced by the health crisis still months after the Covid appeared. Or how else to explain the ever-growing discrepancy between this new disease showing it is absolutely benign for those under 65 years of age; and draconian measures and the maintenance of an atmosphere of maximum anxiety.

An obsessive functional discourse on the new disease is perhaps normal in the mouths of doctors, whose fight against death at all costs is their vocation. This health crisis gives importance and meaning to their expertise. When functionalism takes over the complexity of living, we should remember that it led the twentieth century to the absolute horror of totalitarianism. Indeed, we expect more from democratically elected governments. Our political representatives are supposed to have more distance than a group of sanitary experts in their ivory tower at the WHO. They are supposed to represent society as a whole, all generations of voters. It is terrifying to see their judgment shattered by anguish, short-termism and a reductive vision of life, in the name of which they claim to motivate their decisions.

If the political reactions during the first wave were justified by the precautionary principle and the establishment of adequate reactions to the pandemic, it is unacceptable they continue today to spread a talk marked by anxiety and governed by improvisation and amateurism while the disease has proven to be totally benign for the vast majority of human beings.

Covid is a benign disease, statistics show it

According to the Coronavirus Research Center at Johns Hopkins University, of the 33,500,000 people infected at the end of September and 1,000,000 dead, there are 32,500,000 living who are doing well and of whom little or no mention is made of their fatigue and their sense of smell failing two weeks after illness. This is 3%. But if you consider the serology test studies carried out in Europe in June and India in September, at least 5% of the population would have contracted the virus, or about 10 times more people who were infected than those who have officially been counted, some 390,000,000 people on earth, who are already immune, which brings the percentage of death per case to 0.26% compared to the infected population. WHO is saying that beginning of October, it’s some 10% of the population that might have had the disease already in October, this would lead the casualty over the number of people having contracted the Covid of 0.13%.

More than 1,000,000 deaths is an impressive number, but it is nothing compared to the probable 780,000,000 people that have been affected by the sickness and even less compared to the world population. This is nothing compared to, for example, the 9,600,000 cancer deaths in 2018, in a world where it took two decades to start blaming and combating smoking and where the use of pesticides and herbicides are still being promoted when they have long been shown to have harmful effects on health.

We also know that for the vast majority of humans, this disease is perfectly insignificant: according to the CDC, only 6% of North Americans who died from it had no comorbidity. And on average the remaining 94% of the dead had 2.6 other diseases that put them at risk anyway.

Finally, all the national statistics corroborate each other to show that Covid is mainly a dangerous disease for the elderly. In France, according to Public Health, 38 weeks after the outbreak of the pandemic, 89% of people who died due to the pandemic are over 65 years old, in the United States it is 79%. In the United States, the median age of death from Covid is 78 years for a life expectancy of 78.86 years in the country. That is to say, half of the population who died from Covid was beyond life expectancy. The CDC also shows very interesting data, between February and the end of September, only 10% of deaths in the United States for people over 65 are attributable to Covid and 9.3% of total deaths.

Since the first weeks of panic, progress has been made. Indeed, looking at the Coronavirus Pandemic Data Explorer on internet, the case fatality rate (death from Covid over the number of person contaminated) reached high figures in spring (6.1% of deaths per case detected) on May 16 in the USA, the curve has fallen since, it is divided by two in the USA which only recorded on October 5, 2.8%. In Europe the authorities speak of the terrible increases in cases in September, but in France where on May 28, the case fatality rate stood at 19.6%, it has been fallen since more than 3.5 times lower at 5.3% on October 5. In Germany, where it stood at 4.7% on June 4, it stands at 3.2% on October 5. And the same in emerging countries, in Colombia, for example, it rose at the worst of the crisis to 4.1% on April 21, it stands at 3.1% on October 5.

A targeted prevention policy for a population at risk

Rather than encouraging their population for the effort they have made, and supporting them in their generous efforts of solidarity, the authorities continue to frighten us. A the population at risk is perfectly identified, one would expect authorities to stop blowing generalized anxiety, and to focus their attention and recommendations on these populations, how to protect them from the virus while letting them live their life.

This life, in the name of which governments have mobilized against the coronavirus, is ultimately simply a refusal of death. The average life expectancy in the world is 72 years; past this age, we are invited to look at life with more caution and to face death in an increasing attention. “Death is here, waiting for us”, as Jacques Brel would say. Whether it’s a heatwave, a winter flu, a cancer or an aging heart, whether it’s from Covid, you have to die of something at some point.

A population-focused policy seems to be the best option. That grandchildren and their parents be recommended to greet their grandparents with a mask, barrier gestures and to wash their hands before entering their homes for a visit. But we shall become reasonable when it comes to claiming to stop everyone’s life. We shall stop with the absurd measures, that threat freedom and while nothing justifies them any more. Let us turn the page of this Covid crisis, rather than continue to spread a generalized anguish. We shall attack the real problem, how to preserve the elderly from the disease and the fragile people, while guaranteeing their dignity and their pleasure of living. By letting them live their life as they see fit and knowingly or die their death, if this disease should take them away.

Who benefits from collective panic and its duration?

This inter-generational solidarity in the name of which some doctors and rarely our governments justify their action does not excuse destructive measures for jobs and the global economy, for the education of children, for their learning of the world, for mobility, for the pleasure of living. It is also not justified in the name of the green or social or digital revolution claimed by some people. The destruction of value, poverty, anguish and forced imprisonment that this crisis has generated is unjustifiable anymore. The “Great Lockdown” will go down in history as a vile joke, as an immeasurable mess, as a pathetic event where fear has won over reason, for obscure designs. A sad moment when humanity and its planet have moved back by several years, or several decades for the poorest countries. The “Great Lockdown” will remain for the younger generations as a frightening act of selfishness.

And then all the questions remain. Why are we still in the same anxiety as 38 weeks ago? Why maintain the fear? Who maintain the fear? Why continue to be moved by this disease when it has proven to be so minor? Who benefits from the crime? The question is launched and it is dangerous, sulfurous. By definition she flirts with the simplistic answer, with conspiracy theories.

Is it just an electoral calculation? Knowing that our aging populations represent an ever-increasing portion of voters, especially when the baby boomers are in full swing. It is true that the population over 65 tends to vote more regularly, while the youngest find it difficult to discipline themselves to do so. But an electoral calculation is not enough to explain the futility of political responses to the pandemic, the lack of courage, leadership and the appalling discourse of political elites copying the recommendations of medical experts on the preservation of life towards and against everything.

The media that make their butter from pulsating and thoughtless anguish? The followers of the idea of a “great reset” who see in this crisis the opportunity to change the world in a better place to live, as if the recession was a good way forward to mobilize the means to save the world? Or, on the contrary, the elites who want to divert the middle classes by impoverishing them from major issues such as climate change? The GAFAMs who gorged themselves with money during this crisis and succeeded even more in imposing their virtual business models in a human society on sick leave? GAFAM which are the very vector, with their social media of the crazy psychosis that this crisis to generate? Our political representatives whose median age is over 60 and who fear for their own health? The rulers who have been able to garner an immense dose of power and are delighted in spending the public funds that for decades their successors will have to sacrifice themselves and their electors to repay? Governments that have invested billions in purchasing vaccine doses and probably in vain? The rulers who for the benefit of this crisis have tried to assert their power by muzzling the voices of contradiction and taking advantage of greedily occupying the media space and diverting public opinion from other fundamental issues? There is also certainly also a lot of outbidding linked to soft power, of national pride, in a political context of nationalist exacerbation and geopolitical redesign.

There is a bit of all of that. A great mix of causes, agendas and local and geopolitical projects in a world where we see the attraction of simplistic answers strengthening, our vision of the world shrinking to promote racism, communitarism, our shriveling critical capacity. Put an end to the protest against the yellow vests in France, impose a new constitution in Russia, silence the protest in Israel, poke at the Chinese in the United States and then win the elections at low cost… Political opportunism has taken over for prevail over a substantive reflection. For the governments, spending has become the watchword, regaining control of the economic agenda … And opportunism has taken hold as a mode of government. This crisis allows this one to silence the protest in the street, it’s up to that other to pass on TV for free every night without having to pay anything. All these opportunist stand points coordinate in a grotesque way.

And then, for many maybe the majority of our governments, that are not necessarily led by bad intentions or hidden agendas, there is the horror of being different from others, of being singled out. Globalization has its downsides and one of them is terrible and unbeatable, it is the leveling or the benchmarking. Used primarily in finance, benchmark tends to establish themselves in every aspect of our lives to compare to others. The standard requires compliance with the nature of the latter: moving away from the benchmark is perceived as risky, having a opinion that differs from it, is dangerous, not being comparable to a benchmark is suspicious. The idea of benchmarking has invaded the economic and social world by imposing universal standards on which we measure ourselves against each other. The benchmark is a human reflex, but in the context of globalization it takes on a terrible tinge whose perverse effects are perceptible in the context of a crisis like that of Covid. It implies the herding and the very negation of critical thinking and independence of mind.

With Covid, we are the terrorized witnesses of a succession of erroneous, crude, unilateral decisions taken against the interests of the majority, rather than of a benign pandemic. We realize where our civilization of hyper-information can lead us: a collective psychosis. This crisis is perhaps a good warning, on the tendency of humanity to be fooled and manipulated in real time and without too much questioning. In contradiction with an access an amazing amount of information at disposal on internet. It should make us think about how our civilization can avoid this type of collective and universal madness. And especially how to stop it quickly when the logic of fear bolts serving power and money, or even worse fear of acting wisely.

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Cédric Lombard

Cédric Lombard

Swiss, living in Colombia, Cédric is an entrepreneur active in impact investing since 2001