The Pandemic and the Limits of Science

So perhaps there is a clear lesson of our epidemic that, when allowed, science works. Not flawed, and not always at a pace suited to the global emergency. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were slow to identify Coronovirus as an airborne threat. Even now, in medicine it can be better understood how to prevent coronovirus infection – mask, social disturbances, vaccination – how to treat it. But it is also editable. The public is able to see science with its filthiness, repetition, incompleteness, helping researchers to draw real-time conclusions from the growing pile of data. Never has science been so clearly a process, more muscle than bone.

And yet the virus spread. Travel restrictions, school closures, stay home orders. Sickness and isolation, anxiety and depression. Loss after loss after loss: of dear friends and family members, of employment, of the simple company of others. Last week, the CDC concluded 2020 was the deadliest year in US history. To some, it seemed a century past last year; For many people, this past year was their last.

So let this be another lesson of our epidemic: Science alone is not enough. It requires a champion, a pulpit, a spotlight, an audience. For months, sound and clear advice – wear a mask, avoid gatherings – was Downplay By government officials. Never pay attention to social networks; The renunciation of one’s fa├žade was taken as an act of defiance and personal freedom.

Read today, Sopper’s essay stands out first for his bizarre medical advice. He urged his readers, understandably, to “avoid unnecessary crowds”, but also to “avoid tight clothes, tight shoes” and chew one’s food well. “It is not compulsory to wear masks,” he said.

However, most of the striking are the main lessons he drew from his epidemic, all of which apply to us. One, respiratory diseases are highly contagious, and even ordinary people demand attention. Two, the burden of stopping their spread falls heavily on the person. “Three public challenges,” Soper wrote, “public indifference.” “People don’t appreciate the risks they run.”

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