Donald Trump has claimed variously that Covid-19 is “like a flu”; that it would simply disappear “like a miracle”; and that he “really get[s]” scientific research into the virus, saying “maybe I have a natural ability”. None of this is actually true.
According to the World Health Organisation, the estimated death rate for Covid is three to four per cent, compared to “usually well below 0.1 per cent” for seasonal influenza; viruses don’t simply disappear for no reason; and no one is naturally talented in virology, as demonstrated by Trump’s idiotic and potentially lethal suggestion that Covid patients could be injected with bleach.
His fantasies about Covid have now collided with cold, hard reality. Medical staff will be using their genuine expertise to try to ensure that his condition does not deteriorate and they may be called upon to save his life.
Hopefully, he will not succumb to the disease which has killed more than 200,000 people in the US – about four times the number of American soldiers who died in combat in Vietnam – and the experience will encourage him to show greater respect for the advice of those who know what they are talking about.
It should be a lesson to all those who believe they can wish our troubles away or ignore them. Covid is a deadly threat that we must deal with and, until a vaccine is found, that means measures that infringe on our usual liberties and damage the economy.
Those who airly dismiss climate change should also take note. For four decades, scientists working in an array of different fields have been warning of the disastrous consequences of allowing global warming to continue and yet carbon emissions continue to rise.
Switching to a net-zero-carbon economy will not be easy, but if we imagine a “miracle” will save us, we are deluding ourselves.
During the Brexit referendum campaign, Michael Gove infamously said “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts” and this is the attitude taken by many populist politicians, who arrogantly assume the truth is what they say it is.
If we are to succeed, we must see the world around us as it truly is and the scientific method is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best way to do this.
We don’t always have to do what experts recommend, but irrationally dismissing their advice if it poses a challenge to our political beliefs is the road to ruin.
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