Let’s Hope The Scientists Have Got This Right.

It’s unprecedented times. There’s going to be a massive economic fallout from this pandemic of COVID 19, so I hope the scientists got this right.

Ted and I had quite a robust discussion on this tonight. He’s a financier. A business man, he knows his stuff when it comes to money. He thinks there will be many business’s ruined by the measures being put in place under scientists recommendations. He predicts potentially longer term adverse effects being deaths due to suicide and chronic mental health diagnoses of depression and anxiety and stress related illnesses as a result of lives changed due to financial ruin.

His opinion is there will be a lot to answer for once the hype is over. That once there’s calm again many questions will be asked. He predicts this to be worse than the 80’s crash and that we could potentially see another depression like situation that could take some years to recover from.

Talking to him tonight undoubtedly left me with a sense of gloom. Up until then as much as this situation felt disruptive I was feeling positive that we were doing all we could across the world to save lives. That governments world wide are keeping the infectious curve as manageable as possible.

My thought coming from a health care perspective. His from a business and economic perspective. He believes we should do the rapid peak approach. Rapid infection rate but over shortly. He says the media are sensationalising the issue causing public fear and that the governments are being reactive to that. He believes the governments are bowing to public pressure of ‘ keeping us safe’. Ted believes that it’s ridiculous, that it’s a virus and the amount of world deaths will be no different to flu’s and other illness that kill thousands each year.

He doesn’t agree with the scientists. He thinks the panic is unfounded. I likened his approach to war when the general’s sent in the troops. When soldiers were sent to the front line to fight the battle in a situation of how many casualties will we have to secure our way of life. To me it’s a situation of how many lives we we forgo so the young, business’s and life as most of us know it will continue.

How many of the elderly and weak will we sacrifice to save the economy and current way of life. To avoid seven percent or more unemployment, small and large business ruined. How quick will we get to the peak collateral damage to get our economy back on track as quickly as possible.

I argued, we are talking about saving lives, saving people from dying before their time. He doesn’t want anyone to do that but feels for the better good sometimes there’s sacrifices. My reply is then it’s ok for your parents to get sick and die, they are old only have a few years left. That we run a high risk his elderly parents or a sick friend is potentially sacrificed instead, to save a young person from suicide, or long term a mental health condition ultimately negatively affecting their life, and money the taxpayers will pay in medical expenses and welfare when the mental health of those in financial ruin requires psychologists and they can’t work and requiring welfare payments indefinitely,

No answer is the perfect answer. We lower the curve have a longer pandemic period which may bring financial ruin to thousands, potentially millions, the world economy, even bringing down countries, and all the public health results that comes with mental health, stress related illnesses and ultimately suicides, or, we sacrifice the elderly and weaker members of society for the strong and young and economy and stability of the world. Survival of the fittest mentality.

I’m hoping that what is happening with the restrictions and lockdowns is the right decisions and that there isn’t a review in a couple of years that said we got it wrong. We got it very wrong. If anything scares me that does. I want to believe we are going to have a better outcome long term approaching the pandemic as a health crisis short term for a couple years rather than a economic crisis that results in further health crises over the long term.

Perhaps both are unavoidable. Perhaps this whole situation is going to cause irreparable damage no matter what we do. But tonight I feel more gloomy than I ever have since this virus penetrated our humanity and I hope the scientists that the government is listening to have their predictions correct, and the way governments world wide are handling this is the best way. It’s unprecedented and perhaps we are all getting swept along like a tsunami that it’s creating. So much damage and heartache and that we have no control. It’s engulfed society to react this way. We are so far in we can’t turn back. The fallout is happening, the damage being done as this situation pulls us all along.

I’m hoping Teds wrong but he’s got me scared that so many more lives will be ruined by handling the pandemic this way. That we are only thinking of the immediate future not the long term damage. I can’t help but think though, if it’s your loved one who dies, your loved one who has the ultimate worst outcome, death, that not only is their life changed forever so is many who’s lives they touched. That humanity must prevail. That we shouldn’t see the sick and old as our soldiers we send into battle to save our lives, our business’s and life as we know it.

Surely saving lives has to be the best approach. I can’t help but be reminded from my own experience that death is permanent. Lives can be rebuilt and if people feel taking their life is the best option from financial ruin they remember that ending ones life is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. That with time they can rebuild and overcome. They still have the gift of life.

Perhaps Ted is scared and panicking because business is his language. That he thrives in a world of economic stability and currently that is threatened in a way we have never seen before. Perhaps in his own way he is floundering trying to make sense of what is happening. Lashing out that the world governments are handling it wrong is his way of saying the instability of the current situation has shattered the solid ground he stands on everyday. Perhaps he’s right and that the risk to life is no worse than other coronavirus’s and influenza.

A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Even the experts can’t agree on how to handle this so I’m dam sure that also goes down the line to everyday citizens who are grappling with a once in a lifetime event. One thing I know is we are all living in a time of history being made. We are living in an incredible world crisis and all just doing our best to get it right.

So at the end, will we have or are we going to say the media reporting produced fear, or the scientists were wrong or the governments didn’t do well. When you are in something I believe we are all doing our best. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and no doubt this will be reviewed, studied over and over leaving no stone unturned, praised and criticised for many years to come.

But something positive about it, we are lessening a carbon footprint, the canals of Venice are clear with swans, fish and even dolphins have been seen swimming in them. Satellite pictures show a visual difference of earth. Something good has happened. Climate change has been a concern since our Australian summer bushfires, the universe has its own strange way of acting. Never before have I seen the world work in unison against the one negative for the better good of humanity be it the correct or incorrect responses but humanity is pulling together I believe and it’s actually really nice to see.

“Although there could be slight variations in the data due to cloud cover and changing weather, we are very confident that the reduction in emissions that we can see coincides with the lockdown in Italy causing less traffic and industrial activities,” Claus Zehner, who manages the agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite mission, said in a statement.

Let’s hope the scientists discover a safe vaccine sooner rather than later to end this crisis. Let’s hope there’s as little collateral damage as possible for all.

A Facebook post I have seen. There’s a positive in this.

This is a long read but truly worth it.


Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.

So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing, Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM
March 13th, 2020

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