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Germany just announced an extension of lockdown rules until Christmas. Many countries in Europe and in the World are pursuing the same policies and restrictions. It is like an stampede. Panic has overcome reason and media has established fear to prove it is still necessary in an era of hyperbolic clickbaits. Just for a second, let us recap what has happened, what is happening, and whether this is the right way.

A virus was exported to the world from China, with unknown fatality rate and side-effects. Everybody panicked, which was -to some extent- justifiable. The impact was unclear, and many societies who had long been resting in an orderly and safe environment faced chaos for the first time. China’s authoritarian reaction to the virus was taken as standard, necessary and granted, and almost the whole world went into a lockdown. Fair enough. It is easy now to criticize these measures. However, as time passed and as many recognized that this virus is not as deadly as depicted, it was time to question the status quo. Why should 99% of the society go into house-arrest, lose jobs, be pushed into depression, cripple its education systems, jeopardize its own future by traumatizing young generations, increase suicide rate and domestic violence, and last but certainly not least, push hundreds of millions of people in poor country into poverty, death, criminality and misery to slightly reduce the unfortunate sickness or demise of a tiny proportion of the society with a disease of (on average) 1% fatality rate? Does it make sense, or may it actually cause more death eventually? As just one example, the correlation between unemployment and death shall not be ignored. Let alone correlations of depression and suicide (death).

Those who argue that in order to save even one life we all have to pay a price, are ignorant of the fact that that price is MORE death, so not really a wise strategy to pursue. EVEN if we completely ignore the implicit and/or long-term non-fatal effects of shutting down the economy and isolating the population (which are massive on their own), on a global scale, the current lockdown has produced more death that it would have if countries were simply focusing on increasing their medical capacities and providing infrastructure and financial relief for safer interactions. There is a philosophical issue to be discussed and addressed: is a country allowed to pursue policies to save one life, if it results in the death of 100 elsewhere? There are certainly arguments for and against this, but the tragic reality is that nobody is even talking about it. Many don’t know, as Media has forgotten its responsibility of truthful and unbiased reporting of facts from different perspectives, and a few who do simply feel uncomfortable talking about it.

Here is another uncomfortable question: IF we know that certain travel restrictions may save 1000 lives in Europe, however, lead to the death of 100,000 in Africa, would we do it regardless? One does not have to have an answer ready. It is just helpful to know the consequences of our actions before feeling moral superiority when advocating staying at home and shutting down everything. Many in developed countries see restrictions as a bit of nuisance and comfort that is necessary for a higher cause (aka saving lives). I envy their ignorance. It is certainly a bliss in this case for them, not having to think of the disastrous consequences in countries far far away. They don’t hear it in the news, so they don’t exist. How comfortable.

All these aside, maybe one of the worst long-lasting effects of accepting these restrictions is setting the precedence for governments to trample all over basic human rights (right to work and move freely) with a seemingly acceptable excuse. If the state in countries like Spain or Italy can literally sentence the population into house arrest with let’s say a good excuse (ignoring all the facts mentioned above), what would stop them to do the same in the future with less persuasive arguments? What would stop a fascist-leaning party to covertly release a virus in order to crush demonstrations, cancel elections and simply stay in power? Am I being too pessimistic? I hope. Movies like V for Vendetta seemed like fiction, they are starting to sound more like a prophecy. It is already being discussed in German media that maybe authoritarianism is not actually bad to get things done. I’m not kidding, nor is this “comedian”.

I can only hope that media starts covering these facts next to constant shouting of number of Corona cases:

  • Number of death, compared to other causes of death (so that people have a frame of reference)
  • Age and gender distribution of fatalities (so that people younger than 50 wouldn’t panic unnecessarily)
  • Concerns of old people who may rather visit their family and loved ones in their 80s and 90s with the possibility of infection that being forced to isolation in their last days
  • Increase in number of non-Covid related death due to lockdowns (e.g. heart attack or respiratory dysfunctions and dying due to refusing to go to the hospital due to lockdown)
  • Number of people in poor countries that are being pushed below the extreme poverty line (compared to last years)
  • Number of children with sever psychological problems (compared to last year)
  • Number of cases in depression, anxiety, suicide and domestic violence (compared to last years)
  • Correlation of living below poverty line, unemployment and death rates

If these issues

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are discussed and the data is sought and transparently laid over, then we, as a society, can make a wiser decision on whether lockdowns are effective and constructive and worth the price; or a solution that may turn out to be worst than the problem.

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