CORONA VIRUS - The Facts and the Fear Mongering

By Julie Ulbricht


     Although comparisons have been made to the Spanish Flu Pandemic which killed 50-100 million worldwide, there are huge differences between the Spanish Flu and the Coronavirus.
     There have been almost no deaths in people under 50s from the Coronavirus, and those that do, take days to deteriorate.
Spanish Flu mostly killed younger healthy people because of an overactive immune response in the lungs. It was not unusual for people to get ill at night, and be dead by morning: This is completely different from the Coronavirus.
     The fatality rate depends on the individual’s underlying level of health. At the time of writing in the UK, ALL the deaths from Coronavirus have occurred in individuals who already had compromised immunity from chronic health conditions.
If you look at the statistics, you see that there are almost NO deaths in children from Coronavirus.
     Some children with the Coronavirus just appear to have colds. That is not so good for their elderly grandparents! Also, viral spread is high early in the course of the disease, so people are often quite infectious before they realise it. This means that the virus can spread easily. It is appropriate to take precautions to minimise this risk for ourselves and others, in particular the elderly.

     The first thing is to acknowledge is that there is much that is quite unknown: How fast will the virus spread? How quickly will it peak? i.e when herd immunity begins to be established thus preventing onward transmission. Will it be mild for most people? What will the mortality rate eventually prove to be? (We are only working with estimates at the moment).
     And what is my relationship to an unknown threat? Are the facts above reassuring? Or is there an overwhelming sense of panic and visions of all the worst possible outcomes?
     Sometimes a current event can trigger deep ancestral fears that live on in our unconscious and we may find ourselves unable to keep a cool head. Recognising that this is the case can prompt us to find ways of helping ourselves:
Slowing down and focusing on the basics – adequate rest and a good diet to increase our resilience.
Keeping a sense of perspective as much as possible. Fear begets fear and reduces our immunity in the process.
     The truth is that we are all going to die of something eventually and we don't know when that will happen. Because death is a taboo subject in our culture, we are not used to considering this fact of life calmly; and unsurprisingly it can throw us into a panic. The death rate from the Coronavirus will still be much lower than many other causes (heart disease, dementia, traffic accidents, lung and other cancers etc) that don’t probably worry us as much as they are part of a familiar landscape.
     Looking after ourselves and our loved ones and taking simple measures to limit transmission (hand washing, self-isolation if you are unwell, avoiding large gatherings) and keeping a sense of perspective will help us all.


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