COVID-19: Normalising pandemics

28 March 2020

COVID-19 is the most wide-spread and worrying pandemic we have seen in a while. But it is far from the only epidemic to spring up this century.

In this episode, I want to normalise the idea of pandemics. Yes, they are bad. But the world has seen them before and we have survived. We are treading on known ground.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):

Hey, it's Chris. And in this video I'm talking about COVID-19, how pandemics actually and specifically academics as well. Uh, I've quite common. So we tend to think of COVID-19 as a super scary new thing. And of course it is new. That's why we're a bit worried about it. But actually epidemics and pandemics happen quite a lot. And a lot of the media reporting around this is saying this is just completely unprecedented. We don't have to deal with this. This has never happened before, but that's not true. And so in this video, I want to normalize the idea of pandemics and reassure you that actually as a society, as a medical scientific community, the world knows how to deal with this stuff. So you might be familiar with Spanish flu. That was a hundred years ago now, probably the worst pandemic. We've had killed a ton of people.

Speaker 1 (01:00):

And this often gets, compared to that, obviously we got through that, we survived. But I don't think that the, maybe the best example of comparison, and of course if you go back to say my parents' generation, the big thing back then was AIDS. That was a big unknown. Of course, now we know how AIDS is transmitted, but back then there was a lot of unknown. So a lot of stigma about it and everyone was worried that it was going to kill loads of people. He did kill loads of people and now it's not. It's obviously a very meaningful thing to anyone who is HIV positive, but it's something the world is understanding and treating and managing the symptoms of and getting better at. And then if we look at what's happened with academics, you can go to Wikipedia and you can look up a list of all the epidemics and it turns out there were 63 this century.

Speaker 1 (01:59):

So since the year 2020 years ago, there've been 63 epidemics. Now, admittedly, mostly those are like cholera flowering up in the developing world, but where you might be in the developing world in which case are these scary, but there are a lot of epidemics going on like that's like three a year. This isn't something that just happens really occasionally. Actually epidemics happen a lot and a lot of them spread around the world. A loves them are scary. Remember SARS that was 2002 to 2004 and MERS, which is middle East and respiratory syndrome. That was flared up in 2012 these things were super scary because these had a much higher fatality rate. Then code 19 does. Then more recently we've been through the Ebola crisis that went on for three years, 2013 to 2016 Ganda he Volo is a, is a really serious disease. You did not want that.

Speaker 1 (03:05):

Um, but we got through it. It's getting under control. Um, it's no longer classified by the world health organization as an epidemic, which is great. Then do you remember swine flu? That was 2009 to 2010 so 10 years ago now. That was huge at the time. And the media never mentioned this. The media never mentioned the 24 hour rolling coverage. They did have swine flu, the hundred and 50 to 600,000 people there, the it spread, that was all the, Oh, we think it's coming from Mexico and now it's all over the world and now everyone's going to die in the NHS had massive plans and every, every country in the world was desperately trying to get hold of Tamiflu and Relenza and there was all the coverage about trying to get all this medication shipped around and how we could keep everyone safe. And now, now we mentioned it and it was this big thing that we were all super scared of and then he just went away and it took years and it was a big deal.

Speaker 1 (04:11):

But none of this is unprecedented, right? So even though we've got covered 19 now covered 19 seems to be the most serious thing we've dealt with in a while because it's everywhere. It's gone global. It's truly a pandemic. It's in pretty much every country and we're struggling to get it under control and we don't really know how to feed it. A lot of scary stuff that, but again, I mean at the moment the Def counts going up, but it's still nowhere near the size of swine flu. It's no way I could eat my words that well I will stay behind is going to be nowhere near engineer of Spanish flu because we don't have the global cooperation, the medical knowledge, everything now that we didn't have a hundred years ago. So when it comes to the whole idea of code with 19 minutes something new and scary and unknown, it is partially some of those things, but actually epidemics happen a lot.

Speaker 1 (05:10):

We've had 63 in the last 20 years alone as a global society. We know how to deal with these things and this is just an novel and it's a particularly bad one. It's one that we're having to do things like call this social distancing and locked down so it feels a bit scary, but then also just reflects better medical knowledge and are part of how to stop it spreading. And we know it how to deal with these things. It's not a new thing. It's not an unknown and we will get it under control. So this isn't entirely something new and scary. It's just like swine flu. It's come up, we're going to deal with it, and we're going to together, we're going to get through it because we know how to deal with this stuff.


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