Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Garth Rattray | Don’t blame COVID-19, blame the people

Published:Monday | September 28, 2020 | 12:12 AM
In this May 2020 photo a long line is seein in Pavillion Mall in Half Way Tree, people were waiting to collect their Compassionate Care Grant paid out by the government via Western Union. Social distancing, sanitising and wearing of masks are critical in s
In this May 2020 photo a long line is seein in Pavillion Mall in Half Way Tree, people were waiting to collect their Compassionate Care Grant paid out by the government via Western Union. Social distancing, sanitising and wearing of masks are critical in stemming the spread of COVID-19; these protocols are often not followed in public spaces, which is a matter of concern.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is not a living thing. It cannot move on its own. It cannot jump from one person to another. It cannot react to stimuli or think. It is not evil. It simply exists and will replicate itself if possible. Everything that it has done to human beings was caused by human beings.

The virus did not plan to leap across borders and go on a world tour. It did not conspire to shut down industries and businesses that earn billions of dollars annually. The virus does not hate anyone, and it did not destroy years of economic progress. It did not set out to destroy our sources of entertainment or deny us the pleasure that we find in each other’s company.

The virus did not try to make anyone sick or kill anybody. It is simply engineered to replicate itsel f… that is the only thing that it is capable of. It, therefor, baffles me that as thinking beings, we are aware of the bad effects of viral replication within human hosts yet we are incapable of carrying out a few, simple measures to defeat the virus’ ability to get from one person to the next. This virus could have been stopped and cleared from the planet months ago, but some people just can’t be careful and considerate for a few weeks out of their lives. Don’t blame COVID-19 for the suffering, deaths, and economic ruin. Blame people.

We know that COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, we know that it is emitted from our bodies while breathing, talking, singing, laughing, coughing, sneezing, and spitting. We know that being close to another person may transmit the virus if it is present. We know that droplets and micronised particles carry the virus from infected people and let them loose in the air. We know that sometimes, the virus gets on our hands and may then become transmitted through direct or indirect touch (as with fomites). We know all this, yet we helped the virus spread like a plague and infect the entire planet. This seems incredible to me.

DISTANCING AND SANITISING ESSENTIAL

Distancing and sanitising are essential, but keeping the nose and mouth covered around others, aside from your immediate family at home, is vital. This is simple science, but many people rebel. A recent article from cnbc.com stated: “Researchers from the State University of Londrina found that people who reported ‘antisocial traits’, such as low levels of empathy and high levels of callousness and risk-taking, were less likely to comply with COVID-19 prevention measures such as wearing a mask and social distancing. In this case, ‘antisocial’ refers to traits that are typically present in people diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, which is defined as ‘a chronic and pervasive disposition to disregard and violate the rights of others’, according to the American Psychological Association … .”

People have dismissed the concept of physical distancing as “pure foolishness” and have refused to keep away from others. In order to avoid wearing masks, people invent a variety of excuses like suffocation; re-breathing too much carbon dioxide; heat; discomfort; it goes against nature; 5G is the culprit - not a virus; a strong immune system; and God will protect them. These are the people who pose the real danger to the world, not an inanimate and immobile virus.

Naturopathic concoctions, fancy medications, hospital care, and even vaccines (if and when safe and effective ones are found) are not the best weapons against COVID-19. We simply need to think about the welfare of others - cover our noses and mouths, keep distanced, and exercise personal and environmental hygiene. So when people become sick or die, when our economy crashes, don’t blame COVID-19. Blame the careless, obstinate, selfish, and undisciplined people who spread it around.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.