What the covid pandemic taugh me
It is difficult to predict what will happen when it's the first time something is happening, and it is also difficult to predict something when you have no expertise in the domain. I'm somewhat unusual in the way I take care of my health. I belong to the group of people who try to let his body and health system handle as much as possible the diseases that I have to overcome. I do a lot of sports and eat as healthy as possible in order to build a strong immune system. I also usually refuse to take any medicine if this is highly likely I can recover without it, even if this means suffering. The only exception being taking paracetamol when I have a headache.
When I first started to hear about the covid, I didn't really know what to think about it. I thought that China has not a very powerful hospital system and what happened to them won't happen in a country like France, a country which has a solid health infrastructure. Covid started to spread around the globe. The first time I gave advice about it, was the 13 of March 2020, there were 785 cases in France. What I said was
"Don't overreact, what's important is not the number of cases, but the number of deaths. The only countries who manage to contain the epidemic yet have used either of these two strategies : Very strong hygiene measures and forced sick people to stay at home (japon, taiwan, south korea, singapour, hongkong). Or hard lockdown on everyone (China). In France none of those strategies are possible. The best to decrease the covid propagation is to not transmit it, so when you are sick stay at home and wear a mask. If you are not sick you can still already have it so wear also a mask. (although all those stupid european countries tell you it is useless, some countries are able to control it that way)".
That aged pretty well but that was not hard to predict either. I tend not to panic in stressful events and stay rational. I made one mistake though, without any knowledge I thought most of the transmission is through contact, even though today we still don't know what is the main way of transmission it doesn't seem to be via contact.
But we are here, almost 18 months later and even in the most vaccinated countries the epidemy doesn't stop. And we still don't know if the epidemic is going to stop anyway. The vaccine speed surprised EVERYYONE except Trump (You can ban stupid and be right :) ). And the vaccine efficiency at preventing death also surprised everyone, and still does.
What I learn ?
I have learn a few things, but they all comes down to a simple sentence:
Whether or not it is true, 80% of people will think what the top 5 medias of the country say
I discovered that propaganda exists as much in our democraties than in dictatures, the only difference is that we don't call it propaganda. It is so easy to influence people, just keep telling them the same thing over and over. I discovered how important independent media are to democraties. I've since stopped reading any kind of newspaper and only read somewhat neutral newspaper like Bloomberg and reading the timeline of 3-4 people on Twitter that I trust, and which are very nuanced (and not surprisingly those people as very rational and have not changed their opinions since the beginning because they were close to the truth since the beginning). As soon as I see a post which is certain about something, I know it is unlikely to be true.
You want examples :
- Masks don't work (people were very convinced at the start of the epidemic)
- Compulsory masks works (people are very convinced about it, even though we have no proof about it)
- Lockdown works (Hard lockdown works for sure, but the ones we had ? no strong proof)
- Vaccine will not be available in 12 months (even though the industrials and Trump kept repeating it was possible)
- Astrazeneca vaccine is dangerous ( that was very nothing compared to the risk of catching Covid for old people at the time of the headlines)
- Alpha variant is 60% more transmissible (Was stopped with lighter measures and fears than the previous one)
- Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than Alpha (Cases are already decreasing in unvaccinated teens in UK without any measures or fears)
- The second wave is not a new epidemy (The first one who said was Didier Raoult, nobody believed it because he lost his scientific credibility with his support to HCQ, but not we see that every wave is a new variant)
- The vaccine will stop the epidemy (We don't know 100% if this is true or not but I bet it will not)
What is the impact of that ?
The major issue of that, is that our democraties are in fact super fragile. Nobody believed before the covid that the government had the power to force people to stay at home. That you could be fined for going outside your home. That you could ask citizens to download an app which will force them to quarantine if they walk close to some random people. That you could lose your job because you are not vaccinated. But in fact all of that is possible, if all media advertise for it, the majority of people will agree, even if this based on false promise. People who are against will be called complotist or extreme-something. Politicians - who don't want to go against people who vote for them - will then be in favor of the measure, and here we go..
The same is happening currently in France. Macron said that the 'green pass' will be compulsory to access almost everything, even hospitals (except urgencies). This is also more or less making vaccination mandatory. All media are in favor of it because it was sold to them as a way to exit the pandemy (Which is unlikely to be true). Nothing new you will tel me, there are other vaccines which are mandatory. The funny part is in order to verify that everyone is vaccinated, instead of making it mandatory Macron basically asked every business owner to control that people who come to their business are vaccinated. This is pretty tricky. It goes even further. Every vaccinated citizen is given a QR code with its identity. The authentication process is pretty strong, meaning you can't create fake QR code as the code is signed with government keys. The person who controls the pass, is also verifying the identity of the person at the same time. We only need an update on the verification app to include the GPS coordinate and send the information to a government server and the government is then able to collect the geolocation of each of its citizens in real time. Will that happen ? It is very likely. The government is also currently modifying the law to be able to fire people because they are not vaccinated. Basically for health reasons you can be fired, even though firing someone in France is usually pretty hard. That law has the support of the media and therefore the population.
You will ask me, why the population is in favor of something which is probably going to be against them ? Because this is not how it is sold to them. If you ask the media or the government, "The green pass is a problem for our freedom" They never answer the question, they always say. But this is the pass or the lockdown. People believe lockdown or the pass is efficient at fighting the virus (which is unlikely to be true) so the people prefer the pass to the lockdown. This is very terrifying, if tomorrow the government says "we are going to kill people who are unvaccinated" and the media support that, 80% of people will be in favor of it. If you ask them if in the future the app will be used to collecting their gelocation, they will say something along the lines of "No way, this is strictly for verifying the vaccine status, we have a strong independant legal system which will prevent is anyway". The same argument they used 3 months ago to say that the green pass will NEVER be asked for going to a restaurant. Pure joke.
We don't even know why Macron decided to make the vaccination mandatory thanks to the pass, we don't know if he really wants a dictatorship. He probably did that just to be more popular while trying to do something. But the reality is that dictature is closer than ever to come back and I see nothing to prevent that.
In most countries the media belongs to billionaires, they have understood for far longer than us that they will be able to control the people with that. They can control who is elected, what people do, what they want to buy, what is important, who is guilty. They only need to agree with each other. That's how Macron was elected.
What is crazy is that people who manifest against it, do it mostly for wrong reasons, anti-vaxx, complotists, people who hate the president, people who like manifesting, ... And they are mostly poor people. They are also the people who have nothing to lose. But we have to accept something, us the rich or educated people. The day the dictature will really be there (and there is not much preventing that to happen). That's the poor people who will go manifesting and free us from it. All of the people who criticize the poor people rebelling against those laws should try to think about it. Because they are basically today the only thing that prevent us from being in a dictatorship. Whether the dictatorship is better than the democracy is another story
How to not be under the influence of the media ?
Don't try to think you can continue reading the same newspaper and thinking "I don't trust them" will be enough. If you read something all day, you will believe it 90% of the time, that's the reality. There is only one way. Stop reading the newspaper. Do you really have news in your life ? Today's news is the most important thing to make you scared, lose your time or make you believe things that are wrong. Social media is even worse, don't go there !! I've quit news, and I'm way more relaxed