When and how the pandemic will end: social tension out of control


We are still in a phase of exit from the emergency Coronavirus, and this is certainly the most delicate moment: the attempt to leave all the pain behind and to shake off the fear of the pandemic is a gradual and demanding procedure, which requires time. At this particular time, however, as analyzed by some medical history experts on the New York Times, a crossroads is created between the phase of overcoming the pandemic from a medical, scientific and social point of view. In particular, this occurs when in reality the virus that triggered the panic has not yet completely disappeared, but people forced to live with reality altered by the presence of the same, try to resume their daily life almost as if they did not no longer felt any further risk.

Particularly interesting in this regard is an interview reported in the Huffington Post in which the professor is asked about it Gilberto Corbellini, holder of the chair of History of Medicine at the La Sapienza University (Rome).

“There is no epidemic or pandemic in the history of medicine that has ‘closed socially’ at a time when there was a high mortality and people were afraid of dying”, the expert begins by talking about the situation in Italy.“It is clear that in the face of the lockdown and all the inconveniences, in the face of the fact that mortality is not so high as to reach the common perception, a lowering of the perception of risk. And this is perhaps the case with Covid-19 “, he says.

323 thousand deaths so far, compared to the millions caused by the Spanish in the same period of time since the beginning of the spread of the virus, but still so much fear. “It is clear that the perception of this infection in society is linked to communication, to the number broadcast on television of deaths that triggers the emotion, but which is not a high enough number to make people in the majority know someone who has died or who is afraid of this disease “, explains the professor. A high number of deaths especially among the elderly and those affected by previous diseases. “At the beginning, an unjustified fear spread, in the wake of the emotion aroused by communication. It was the most mediated virus in the history of medicine”, asserts dr. Corbellini, who explains the elements that pushed towards unjustified fear.

“The ritual of 6 pm, numbers that speak of nothing to explain nothing, did nothing but increase social tension. A management between terrorist and paternalistic”, but certainly an evil that cannot be compared even remotely with the Spanish. “It frightened because it killed young adults. The virus triggered cytokine storms in people with robust immune systems. And seeing 25-30 year olds dying was a frightening social shock. As if we saw 18 year old kids die today. Here. This shock there wasn’t for Covid-19 “, he reiterates.

The difficulty for many to start again can therefore be explained more from a psychological point of view than from a medical point of view. “We have an answer psychological innate towards epidemics and pandemics. They terrify us and trigger a series of reactions that come out of any rational control. In this situation of fear that is now circulating, an ambivalence is created in people: on the one hand a feeling of pessimism on the general scenario, there is fear that the epidemic will resume or is afraid for the future. But on an individual level we tend to be optimistic, thinking that somehow we will always do it, for this reason we also take more risks than we should “, explains the teacher.

On the end of the pandemic, however, dr. Corbellini has no certainties. “Basically, the pandemic ends with mutual adaptation between viruses and host species. The human world is extremely capable of to adapt: if it is true that the forms that this disease manifests are now milder perhaps it is also because the doctors have learned to treat them better, or the viral load is lower thanks to the masks and the distancing “, hypothesizes. “There is certainly no evidence that the virus has changed to the point of believing it has lost virulence. It may be happening. But at the moment there is no evidence. We can expect that the pandemic will slowly go out or maintain minor outbreaks in Countries with conditions favorable to the virus, I fear for Africa or South America “, he adds. “We can hope, then, that through pharmacological and vaccine research something will come out that will make us win definitively. But if you ask me what will happen I don’t know: it could go off like returning with worse scenarios”, he concludes.

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