We cannot save lives, we can only defer death
Having said that, we desperately need to save lives by making lives liveable - by not making the living pay an unbearable price for buying maximum time for the dying.
Collectively speaking (of course there are exceptions), lives are surely sacred and precious. That is why quality of life is so important and precious.
About a week ago I wrote an urgent and open letter to our president (available on my blog beachshack.co.za). My appeal was to lift the lockdown with immediate effect.
Yes, emphasise all possible safety measures like the wearing of masks, physical (why social?) distancing, limit gatherings to just a few people, etc. And of course, focus energy on our older and sick people.
We took the maximum dosage of medicine (with extreme side-effects) and got into bed immediately the moment we saw the virus coming. Many internationally high-standing epidemiologists, such as Prof Knut Wittkowski, think we could not have done a worse thing.
All the noise was about flattening the curve at all cost, but we are not flattening the curve. We are deferring the curve, and we are depleting all our economic and other resources and reserves during a time when we needed at all costs to ‘hunt and gather’.
We had to do all we could to prevent a lockdown by living carefully and taking all reasonable precautions, preferably by ourselves, but even by legislation if necessary. Instead, we jumped into bed and started living off our precious few, if any, reserves.
The lockdown decision is of course in line with international thinking. Figures are still very low in SA and it seems as if we are doing the right thing indeed. Acting in line with the world carries no risk.
The stricter the lockdown, the more responsible it seems to a world out there. But there are so many unnecessary restrictions that I for the life of me cannot see how it contributes to curbing the spread of the virus.
No one can point a finger. Or can one? Problem is, we cannot afford to take this “safe” route. By choosing this route, we are guaranteeing a scenario of anarchy on an unprecedented scale.
The situation calls for a willingness to stick out government’s neck and act appropriately to a situation which calls for action according to what we here in SA can afford, not according to how other governments reacted.
We must acknowledge that we do not have the luxury of first-world finances and stimulation packages. The package our government came up with amounts to 0.1% of our GDP, compared to the 7.5% of the developed countries. I am not criticising this - there is simply no more money available.
In my open letter to the president, I strongly urged government to “vomit out” the unsustainable overdose we took too early in our coronavirus timeline, by lifting the lockdown immediately and rather administering milder, more sustainable doses of medicine.
The essence of my argument was that surely after the first three weeks of lockdown, the figures would be substantially higher than when the decision was first made, so based on their way of thinking, the lockdown would have to be extended each time it was due to end, until the figures indicated a proper slowdown.
We are not flattening the curve, we are deferring it. How long this may take is anybody’s guess, but I think a year is being optimistic, with two years a reasonable guess. Figures may go down in the interim, but a second wave is then likely.
Surely this scenario cannot even be contemplated?
The cost of this lockdown is unaffordable but, more so, unnecessary. We could have virtually the same effect in terms of slowing the spread of the virus, but at a fraction of the cost.
Maintaining the current “theme” of the plan necessarily implies an extension of the lockdown (as was indeed announced last Thursdays). Unless we divert from this strategy, which we will have to sooner rather than later, we will have several more extensions.
The resultant bankruptcies and liquidations, unemployment, social unrest and uncontrollable crime are sure to send this country into a state of anarchy that will bring unbearable hardships to our people.
On top of this, the mayhem on the ground and social upheaval will force government to lift or stop the lockdown at a time when Covid-19 figures would most certainly warrant this strong emergency medicine.
I truly believe that this scenario will be much worse than the worst direct effects of Covid-19, also in terms of lives lost due to hunger, poverty and a total lawless society. The real risk here is that by the time one realises the above was not dramatising a socio-economic scenario, we may be on an unstoppable, even unbreakable run-away train to anarchy.
As said, life is sacred and precious, but we need to accept death, otherwise we will make life unbearable. How much of life at large are we prepared to sacrifice in our bid to defer death at all costs, even when imminent?
Is the deferment of death for a relative few of those infected by Covid-19, the ultimate triumph, worthy of the sacrifice by millions of the most basic human rights of adequate nutrition and shelter?
It is sure to result in their death anyway, either directly from starvation or indirectly from TB, flu or whatever diseases, because of a compromised immune system. Minimising deaths should not only apply to those we can identify and measure.
PS: Just for perspective… About 5,000 children under the age of five annually dies of hunger in SA. About 5-million people in the world dies annually of hunger. Have we shut down the economy for this tragic situation?
The average age of people who died in Italy is 82, of whom almost half had at least three other serious medical conditions. A seriously skewed perspective is formed if this is not taken into account - in other words, people dying from the virus vs people dying with the virus.
Simon van Deventer, Plett