VIRUSES, QUARANTINE, POPULATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
A miracle happened on a global level.
More than two billion people almost voluntarily locked themselves in their palaces with huts, apartments and houses. Without getting close to each other, the citizens of European countries walk to the next market, only to be immediately grounded again with a package of products. As during the occupation, they receive a passport to visit a pharmacy or a relative outside their neighbourhood. If the “bad guys” violate the isolation regime, serious sanctions await them, in some places even years of imprisonment.
The tourism industry collapsed, passenger transport went into the red, schools, kindergartens, universities, restaurants, beauty salons, hairdressers, shopping centres were closed, championships and other crowded forums were stopped, groups of more than 50 people were not allowed to gather and here and there people come together wearing masks and gloves, inventing equipment for opening doors with elbows and much more.
Management, in a number of countries, has been switched to “manual” mode: Due to exceptional circumstances, important decisions are made without prior parliamentary debate.
And this happens in the prosperous European Union, the USA, Russia, Ukraine, Ireland, Germany, Hungary, France, Spain, India and many other countries. Abandoned Paris, abandoned Rome and Madrid suddenly became the norm and a example for other capitals. In the press, comparisons of the campaign against the coronavirus with the Second World War show possible consequences.
What made the citizens of these countries humbly agree to the restriction of their rights, the loss of businesses, a serious reduction in income or even unemployment?
There is only one answer: on the 11th of March this year, the prestigious World Health Organization (WHO), with an annual budget of around 5 billion USD according to its Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhan Gebreyesus, announced the outbreak of the pandemic of a new acute respiratory infection caused by coronavirus. According to the WHO, 571,678 infections were recorded worldwide between mid-December last year and the 28th of March 2020, and 26,494 patiens died.
The question is relevant: Is it much or little, are the actions taken by governments of the different countries sufficient? In relation to 7.6 billion of the population of planet Earth, the figure is 0.0075% and the mortality rate in relation to those who have been infected, according to the WHO, is 4.63%. To understand the danger of the situation, it is permissible to compare the coronavirus with other infections. It is known that one of the oldest droplet infections is tuberculosis. According to the above-mentioned Director-General of the WHO, about a quarter of the world population suffers from latent tuberculosis (carriers of infections). Of these people, more than 10 million fall ill every year, including a million children.
This worst enemy of human health claims 4 to 5 thousand lives daily. But yes, more than 90% of cases occur in developing countries such as Africa, South-East Asia, India and China.
A WHO study on influenza, led by the Director of Emergency Situations, conducted in 2017 in 33 countries representing 57% of the world’s population, showed that influenza kills between 291,000 and 646,000 people a year, depending on the burden. Disease peaks occur in months with unstable cold or chilly weather.
If we compare coronavirus, influenza and tuberculosis, we get the following: – coronavirus (from the end of December 2019 to the 28th of March 2020 – 3 months or 90 days): fatal outcome – about 300 cases per day, 9 thousand per month; – influenza (average values: 1282 deaths per day, 39 thousand per month, 468 500 per year; – tuberculosis: fatal outcome – 4.5 thousand per day, 135 thousand per month, 1.6 million per year.
The near future will show how the pattern of development of the coronavirus infection mortality rate will progress. But for the first time such unprecedented measures have been taken to combat seasonal infections. This led to incomplete preliminary estimates of more than $3 trillion in economic losses, the emergence of hundreds of thousands or even millions of new poor and unemployed people. Whether these measures were justified, – it is too early to draw a final conclusion.
However, if we focus on non-medical aspects of the fight against coronavirus infections, the following is already obvious: – The population is easy to manage if they take use of the real danger of an infection of unclear or unknown nature (it is more difficult to scare with tuberculosis than with a virus) – With adequate information support, a state of emergency can be imposed extremely quickly (today it is objective, but tomorrow?); – For the voluntary self-isolation of citizens it is not necessary to have previously comparable information on similar infections in the years preceding the coronavirus, reliable data on the number of people infected, on sick people only because of the virus, on the virus and related diseases, on the virus and complications. – Restrictions or withdrawal of fundamental rights and freedoms (freedom of movement, assembly, rallies, demonstrations, etc.) are easily accepted and are even welcome with reference to health; – The economic and social consequences of the measures taken are not explained to the population, when calculated, with sufficient completeness and objectivity. – There are no clear time parameters for the measures taken, which prevent people from allocating their resources correctly and taking account of their abilities (according to media reports, in Italy, which has been quarantined from all others, some people who are isolated have no money or products). – There is a “domino effect” and an almost competitive moment. If the neighbouring state imposes restrictions, the same should be done, just to create a national flair (policemen play guitar in Spain, sirens in Belgium).
The traditional question “who benefits?” is not obvious today, even if we use the conspiracy theories expressed in the media:
– The first, of course, is that people are also saved from infections. Let some of them lose their jobs, in the course of salvation; their business, their income to feed themselves and their families, pay for housing, study, but above all stands that they won´t get sick. But is there a guarantee and option from the state to compensate for these economic losses and for how long?
– Secondly, pharmaceutical companies and food chains. However, a temporary increase in turnover linked to an information attack on people will most likely lead to a long recession, as a part of the population will not have sufficient resources to maintain a pre-viral standard of living due to a lower standard of living.
– The third, which has been propagated in the media: The Democrats in the United States are swinging the country’s economy down to prevent Donald Trump from being re-elected and at the same time to hit muscle-flexing China. And as if they had made a cocktail for it – a corona virus, modelled in a special laboratory. Similar accusations were made against China. But the economic losses of the USA and China are already so great that Donald Trump and his re-election have long since faded into the background.
– The fourth, who was mainly popular in the Western media. Russia, as a permanent “enfant terrible”, is involved in the corona virus, as it is interested in destroying the economy and is trying to tacitly push through changes to the constitution that would allow Vladimir Putin to be re-elected after 2024. However, in economic terms, Russia is one of the countries most affected. The fall in oil prices due to a drop in demand linked to the coronavirus has led to a significant devaluation of the ruble, i.e. a fall in the living standards of the country’s population. The introduction of quarantine with the closure of most areas of the service sector has damaged small and medium-sized enterprises. Many Russians do not have a financial “airbag” that would allow them to calmly survive the restrictions imposed in the country. And the constitutional changes themselves are now questionable: the vote was scheduled for the 22nd of April, but now it has been postponed indefinitely. With regard to the amendments, it can be said that the main thing is to introduce the priority of national law over international standards, as exists in the United States. There are changes in articles on the powers of the President and the government. On the basis of these innovations, the idea of a new calculation of the two terms of office of the President, the so-called “zero position”, is being promoted. However, the amendments have not yet been adopted and it is not yet known whether the current president will use the right to be re-elected for a term of 5 or 6 years.
So, all the versions given, with the exception of the first, are conspiracy hypotheses. And the First, unfortunately, for economic reasons, can lead to the fact that the drug is worse than the disease itself *. And when this happens, one can only be comforted by the expression that decision-makers like any human being have the right to make mistakes. Errare humanum est, said the ancients in such cases.
* Francis Bacon – Treatise on Rebellion
ISHR, Vladimir Novitski, Russia
Anton Alekseev, Ukraine