When an Irrational Panic Goes Viral

My last piece was on whether the cure for the (Chinese) coronavirus was worse than the disease. Well, surely, we now know the answer. Italy has closed itself down over 7000 known cases in a population of over 60 million. Imagine the dire consequences of this for businesses across Italy if this were to last more than a few days, and yet, once you close the place down, how the heck do you quickly open it up again?

I would guess that the number of actual cases is a multiple of 7000 and those afflicted haven’t noticed. This of course elevates the assumed death rate to well above the common flu which kills many people each year. It most definitely elevates it among those who are prone to panic.

I am just watching Tucker Carlson 0n Fox News (10 March) who seems to associate transnational public and governmental panic over the virus with the threat of the virus itself. Without realising it, he is on to something. The real threat of this virus is what is being done about it. By the way, as I am writing, I have just heard him saying “people are dying of the plague” in response to Joe Biden making one of his few perceptive remarks, that fear-mongering is going on. You couldn’t write home about it.

Only those old and/or frail are particularly at risk, as they are from the flu and any number of maladies. US Surgeon General Jerome Adams reported yesterday that those who had died in the US from the new coronavirus (twenty-one at that point) had an average age of 80 years. So, cocoon vulnerable people as best can be done. It can be done easily enough in nursing homes and the like, and if you are visiting elderly family members or friends take precautions. Have groceries delivered and provide wipes to wipe the boxes down.

Government should focus on assisting in this process of protecting the vulnerable not in trying to prevent healthy adults from contracting the virus by closing down whole economies. The costs of this in human wellbeing and health will be incalculable and will put the threat of the virus itself in the shade.

Once the virus is out it is best if those able to easily fight it off are left to go about their business unhindered. If they contract the virus, they will, after recovering, form a growing section of the population who, in the short term at least, will no longer pass it on.

Sense is no longer as prolific as it was. Climate hysteria shows that in spades. The adulation showered on a know-nothing troubled teenage girl shows what a shemozzle it has become. It is not surprising that we have the unworkable (wind and solar) in pursuit of the undoable (cooling the planet).

But back from the so-called climate emergency to the so-called virus emergency. One thing you might notice about all disasters of one kind or another, the government of the day never does enough – apparently. I recall George Bush being criticised for a shortage of buses available to move people out of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Clearly, he should have had the prescience to have buses permanently parked outside the city in case of floods.

It is ridiculous of course. Scott Morrison was not responsible for the bushfires and Donald Trump is not responsible for the new coronavirus or that test kits are not yet as widely available in the US as people think they should be.

We live in a pathetic age of nanny-state dependency when everybody looks to government to solve all ills and take the blame for all misadventures. I doubt the families and friends of the 6000 people killed in Galveston when a hurricane hit in 1900 blamed the government for anything.  But that was then.

“Shit happens,” as Tony Abbott accurately observed. That’s true of pestilence and natural disasters and of government responses to such events.  Governments and their apparatchiks are comprised of lots of people of varying degrees of competence. Stuff-ups are bound to happen. What we don’t need is a stuff-up which results in the misery of an economic depression brought about to quixotically combat a mild flu-like malady.

14 thoughts on “When an Irrational Panic Goes Viral

  • lloveday says:

    When the Equine Flu hit some horse trainers rubbed the nostrils of an infected horse with a rag and infected their other horses – got it over and done with all at the same time, and the horses were all ready to go in a few weeks.


    lloveday, I’m sure this technique worked with horses, and I know of Jenner’s smallpox cure, however I resile at the thought of mucous exchange with infected fellow humans in order to aquire immunity from the Wuhan Corona virus.

  • Farnswort says:

    “Italy has closed itself down over 7000 known cases in a population of over 60 million.”

    Actually, that number has already surged past 9000. In any case, it is the rate of growth that is the problem.

    Already health services in outbreak-hotspot Lombardy are struggling. More than 80 percent of hospital beds are reportedly filled with coronavirus patients. ICUs are being rationed.

    The Italians have now taken drastic, nation-wide action to slow the exponential growth of the outbreak. But they had little choice. The only other option was to watch the health system collapse and allow lots of people to die needlessly. Social distancing measures – including travel bans and quarantines – are really the only measures we have to slow the virus’ spread.

    History has taught this lesson before. Case studies on the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic in the United States show that cities that implemented interventions early — such as closing churches, schools, theaters and dance halls and forbidding crowding on street cars and banning public gatherings — experienced much lower peaks in the death rates than ones that did not.

    Allowing the virus to rip its way through the population in a totally unrestrained manner without any controls is practically inviting a health, social and economic disaster.

  • hwka says:

    This morning at the Post Office , whilst I was waiting in line, two people wearing masks entered.
    Then one of the men said: “This is a robbery”
    And we all calmed down.

  • Farnswort says:

    I would recommend checking out Tucker Carlson’s recent segment on the coronavirus and the rest of this piece: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/coronavirus-tucker-carlson-hard-truth/

    Carlson is spot on. Be calm but not complacent.

  • rod.stuart says:

    It’s ironic that it is this very dependence on government as a crutch is the very virus that causes the Socialism disease that extinguishes the freedom of the individual.

  • Farnswort says:

    Grim dispatch from Milan, Italy: “All the resuscitation bays are full. They’re having to triage, deciding who to intubate and who to let die.”

    Hardly sounds like a mild flu-like malady.

  • Necessityofchoice says:

    An interesting tack taken by young Peter, who does look quite sprightly, certainly a tad under 80 y.o.
    While C-19 may only cause him some mild distress, it has the potential to wipe out 2/3 of Quadrant’s current readership, which would be a shame.

  • Farnswort says:

    Health care rationing coming to Australia soon:

    “Health authorities, racing to control the coronavirus, face a life-or-death challenge: flatten the rate of infection or face a situation where hospital doctors will need to make agonising decisions about who to save and who to let go.

    COVID-19 infections are doubling every six days. With Australia’s tally jumping to 199 late on Friday, the number of cases will have passed 10,000 in less than six weeks unless the spread is slowed.

    NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant this week warned 1.5 million people in the state are ­likely to ­become infected, yet the nation has only 2000 intensive care beds.”


    Again, not a mild flu-like malady.

  • Lo says:

    I am disturbed that the panic has spread so far, so fast and that whole governments have instituted such restrictions, on travel and gatherings. These last six months we have lurched from climate to bushfires to virus with each one seeming to be the worst evah.
    We seem to have developed a desire for fear, rather like teenagers and horror movies.


    An old saying – ‘more people die from being scared than are killed by the thing that they were scared of”. Like most QUADRANT subscribers, I am one of the high risk category people for the virus, so I should be scared. I am, a little. However, I am more scared of the side effects of the ‘treatment’ and efforts to stop its spread than I am of the virus itself.

  • BillThompson says:

    the evidence had moved on even before this article was written. This is not a virus to be complacent about. If left unchecked by strict quarantine measures it is far deadlier than the flu, and will spread exponentially to overwhelm our health system. The paper by Tomas Payeu at this link is essential reading. https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca
    It sets out the statistical evidence from the experience from Wuhan, the rest of China, Italy and the US as to the exponential spread of the virus if unchecked and the effectiveness of quarantine in limiting number off cases, mortality rate and flattening of the infection curve.

  • Frank Pulsford says:

    Y2K, anyone?

  • Frank Pulsford says:

    DiogenesF: Y2K, anyone?

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