Last year I came across a book — All for Nothing — about the collapse of the German Army in Prussia during the Second World War. It is written from the perspective of a young boy and the characters are mostly civilians. My mother, as a young girl, lived through this.
People in the book for the most part cannot comprehend a Soviet invasion or the defeat of the German Army. These are impossible concepts for them. Everyone in the book sees events from their unique, egocentric bubble. But then people start dying randomly and everyone becomes focused on survival. There are some acts of generosity, especially at the end of the book, but for the most part it’s everyone for themselves.
Today, as I watch the collapse of our healthcare systems, with paediatric units overflowing across the country I wonder about our collective stupidity. We have proven ways to reduce airborne pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, RSV, and influenza. But our political leaders and chief medical officers of health take no effective action. They promote vaccines but vaccinations for children under five years of age are around seven per cent. Only hospitals require face masks, and these are ineffective surgical masks, not the ones that actually prevent breathing in viruses such as N95 or elastomeric. We know that HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filters can clean the air of pathogens. We also know that DIY Corsi-Rosenthal boxes work. Yet, in our provincial school system, these are forbidden.
There is an unattributed saying that culture eats strategy for breakfast. I think our existing neo-liberal political culture eats sanity for breakfast. I understand that people may fear losing their jobs. Upton Sinclair wrote that, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” But is there nobody in power willing to speak up?
As I go about my business wearing an N95 indoors for quick shopping or other errands I am a tiny minority and often the only person masked. I have been getting much of my information from professionals who share on Twitter — pandemic list. As Twitter’s collapse becomes more possible each day, I wonder where I will turn to get valid science-informed opinions. Too many people I know in our community don’t really care, have given up on any public health measures and — many of them are getting sick from Covid. The costs of long-covid will continue for many years.
Like the Germans in All for Nothing, it seems it will take an absolute catastrophe before we wake from our collective stupor.
“Across the country, more closures are piling up, too many to count. In British Columbia, the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in the town of Clearwater—one of the only hospitals in a vast rural area—has been closed more than 60 times this year. In Alberta, small-town ERs have been closed, or left with only nurses, dozens of times. Ontario has had more than 80 ER closures so far in 2022, including the shuttering of the ER in the little town of Chesley, which closed in early October due to a shortage of nurses. It’s not scheduled to reopen until the beginning of December. This fall, a leaked report on ER statistics obtained by the province’s opposition Liberals showed that on any given day in 2022, the average number of patients waiting in emergency departments for an inpatient bed was 884—a 53 per cent increase over 2021. ”
It seems to me the pandemic was a call to focus on health building, much the way JFK tried to do in the 60’s in America with physical exercise. Instead we “followed the science” and ignored biology in that at a certain point it’s hard to treat unhealthy people no matter how advanced your medicine becomes. We ought to be focusing on simple health-building messages like walking and avoiding sugar and getting out into nature. But these things don’t line the right pockets. Exercise might be an easier sell than the masks, and more beneficial overall.
I exercise regularly but I still get vaccinated and wear a mask in indoor public places. I find the Swiss Cheese Model a good perspective