When Coronavirus Meets The Young Ones In Barcelona

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I’m beginning to think that a lot of people, young people in particular, live on another planet and are unaware of what the coronavirus pandemic is doing to us and what it means.

I can understand why adolescents have had enough of being locked up in a flat with their moaning parents. Even the Playstation doesn’t compensate for that fantastic feeling of being able to drop litter in the street, make a racket at the local park, break the glass of the nearest bus stop shelter, and have an illegal smoke with your best mates.

I’m not even going to quarrel with those who put the number of deaths due to the coronavirus in context by citing the number of people who die from other causes. Suffice to say that a prominent Dutch social media “influencer” (so that’s what they call themselves) said he was capable of interpreting numbers because he used to be a bookkeeper, and for him, it was as clear as whatever clarity means when it comes to numbers – social distancing has no impact on the transmission of the coronavirus and no place in our post-lockdown societies, in the name of freedom. No, sunshine, methinks you’re confusing accountancy with epidemiology. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because I’ve already forgotten your name, and isolation is all the rage again. I told you freedom was just a phase and wouldn’t make it to August. What a rubbish influencer you are.

But what about social distancing, apart from that it doesn’t make sense to the young? It’s funny though, how we all suddenly become virologists, each one of us preaching the truth about little green viruses making the big jump to kill your gran who was going to die by the weekend, anyway. I was no good at virology at dental school – bacteria cause gum disease and tooth decay, not viruses – but there was one fundamental truth that I did learn about viruses: they may be green, but have no wings. Yes, say that you heard it from my influential blog first – viruses don’t fly. I repeat, viruses do not fly, unless seriously under the influence of genetic mutations (it’s the guanine base that does it). How could they fly anyway, the coronavirus and its buddies can’t even see you, let alone speed up your left nostril from a distance of fifty paces? Just step out of the way and the bastards will miss you by a mile.

There’s always an “unless” of course – unless that drunken yobbo you’re hanging out with has just come back from Barcelona, is coughing like hell, and got his face mask confiscated at Heathrow along with the tequila. But even then, the coronavirus doesn’t fly. No, it is transported courtesy of your best friend’s brain cells being delicately expectorated and travelling in the midst of what mad scientists call aerosols, to spatter you all over your mush. Now, that’s one thing I do know something about – aerosols, that fine and invisible smear of organic muck that lies all over the dental chair and tray. But worry not, we disinfect the chair and dispose of the tray – or is it the other way around?

I have just one issue with the young and anybody else who thinks like them, that social distancing is a load of bollocks. I am envious that they are young whilst I am rapidly falling into the “at risk”  group.

In the Netherlands, we witnessed a health service that was nearly brought to its knees by the sheer number of patients occupying intensive care (IC) beds. In Italy, hospitals run out of IC beds altogether and couldn’t cope anymore. We all saw dreadful images of doctors and nurses crying because they had to decide who was treated and who was not. In the Alsace region of France, field hospitals were set up to treat critically sick patients. I could go on with the list, New York, Lima. My Peruvian wife’s sister-in-law lost her father and three other members of her immediate family due to the presence of the virus and the lack of beds. They had no chance against the virus because they couldn’t be treated properly.

Evidence is mounting that the resurgence of infections in the Netherlands is linked to young people transmitting the virus to others. Parties and other gatherings, where social distancing joins the beer can in the trash can, are on the increase, as is the pivotal R number that shows the rate of progression of the virus.

The example of my wife’s in-laws will probably incite my beloved social “know-it-all” influencer to cry from the rooftop of his mansion in Scheveningen that, “I told you so, Peru went into lockdown almost immediately and look what happened.” So what, I reply, didn’t you study Karl Popper at kindergarten? Our scientific knowledge is provisional; it’s the best that we can do at this moment in time. You must prove that, all other factors being identical, Peru’s lockdown had no influence on the number of infections and deaths; and I must prove that, with all other factors being identical, social distancing really does keep the numbers down and saves lives.

In the meantime, Mister Influencer, mind the gap. There’s a good boy.