Monday, March 23, 2020

Five Years Ago Vs. Now

Bill Gates has been warning us for years that we were not prepared for a viral pandemic. There really isn't anything to say now other than to have compassion for those without the capacity to understand and faith in better days to come.

The more I think about it - I'm not sure that this post has much value. Earlier this year I'd been looking at what Bill Gates had been saying about future pandemics and found it very troubling given anti-science forces are in control of the federal government, some state's government and portions of the media. Sharing the pain of watching Bill Gates talk in 2015 and comparing that to Trump talk in 2020 seems quite unhelpful other than it reminds us what Socrates told us a couple of thousand years ago - knowledge is good and ignorance (lack of knowledge) is evil.

It's important to note that Socrates professed to be ignorant about many things (maybe every thing). This type of ignorance, recognized as such, is good since it leads the ignorant person to search for knowledge. The evil type of ignorance is sometimes called "double ignorance" referring to someone who thinks they know something they don't. An example of  double-ignorance would be some country club boor who thinks he is an expert on aircraft carrier catapult systems or anything else that would require reading, study, thoughtful consideration and consultation with experts.

I would still recommend compassion for those without the capability to understand how devastating this virus could be. Combining the exponential nature of the spread of the Covid-19 virus, which is estimated to have 3 times the transmissibility rate of the flu virus and  potentially 10 times the mortality rate compared to the seasonal flu, and things begin to look very challenging.

On a political level I have no compassion for a "leader" and his political and media minions who have failed their fellow citizens by lying, providing confusing messages and appealing to wishful thinking.

Nothing should surprise us.

That's a Stoic idea. If we prepare ourselves for the worst we won't be surprised when it happens and we may be pleasantly surprised if it doesn't.

It would not be unreasonable to assume the Covid-19 pandemic will get significantly worse over the coming months before things get better. Given the exponential nature of the spread and the haphazard containment efforts no one knows for sure what the timeline is, but saying things will get worse before they get better is a safe bet.

As we prepare ourselves for tough times we have the consolation that at some point in the future this too shall pass.


Postscript -  The article Why David Quammen Is Not Surprised describes the book he wrote in 2012 titled Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.

An Atlantic article from June 2018 How Will Trump Lead During the Next Global Pandemic? with the subtitle “There is a real reason for us to be scared,” President Obama’s Ebola czar said.

We are finding the answer to the question of how Trump will lead now.