Ignacio López-Goñi is a Navarre-born microbiologist and scientist with a PhD in Biology from the University of Navarre. The World Economic Forum has just published an article of his discussing what’s really going on with the COVID-19 outbreak.
For that, he starts at the beginning. There are words that have very specific meanings in these contexts, even if they are popularly used in a different way. For example, pandemia brings up images of infection in death on every corner. However, the real definition, the one scientists use, does not refer to how lethal a disease is, but rather how easy it is to transmit and how far it has extended geographically.
These past few weeks have been constantly reminding us of the phrase used once and again by one of the leads of “Witching and Bitching (Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi)”, a 2013 film directed by Álex de la Iglesia. He spends the whole film saying, “That’s not the right way to do this” whenever his fellow thieves try to make a decision. At the end of the film, one finally stands up to him, demanding to know “And how exactly do you do it?”. The unrepentant critic takes a moment before responding, “I don’t know, but not like this.”
The media, talk show hosts, and Cousin Eddies of all types can’t stop criticising the decisions the health authorities are taking, denouncing their lack of foresight and their extreme slowness in making some decisions, while then turning around and accusing them of acting too hastily. In the end, they’re just talking about something they don’t understand, pontificating from the comfort of knowing that they’ll never have to take any responsibility for what they say, nor face the consequences their words might have.
Similarly, we get the impression that there are official decisions being taken due to the messages certain media outlets are broadcasting; but these messages are not to inform the public but rather to gain market share. It seems as if the media have launched a war to see who can out-yellow-journalism the others, not to make sure their audience is informed but rather to create an imaginary chaos that they themselves are fomenting, going so far as to spend half a news broadcast enumerating each new case, one by one.
And if anyone tries to speak from a position of balance and common sense, they are accused of trying to downplay or hide “the terrible situation we’re living in”.
No one can say that the appearance of this new virus that affects humans is a “trifling matter”. But what we do need to do is listen to the experts, keep calm, and vaccinate ourselves against the infection of conspiracy theories.
Ignacio López-Goñi helps us understand what’s going on, in order that we not only take it seriously, but also so that we don’t start acting like chickens with our heads cut off. Fear and hysteria can be more dangerous than fire, or epidemics.
By the way, we highly recommend his blog to stay on top of this issue and other similar ones.
Word Economic Forum – 8/3/2020 – USA
Coronavirus: how to keep things in perspective
Regardless of whether we classify the new coronavirus as a pandemic, it is a serious issue. In less than two months, it has spread over several continents. Pandemic means sustained and continuous transmission of the disease, simultaneously in more than three different geographical regions. Pandemic does not refer to the lethality of a virus but to its transmissibility and geographical extension.