Day 18 – Thursday 2nd April
This week was dedicated to new experiences and making the most of your time during lockdown, but how do we each do that when we are bombarded daily by so much negativity in the news and social media. How do we deal with constant roll call of the dead and the emotional weight being pumped out on all sides? For some the answer is to block it out. To take regular breaks from the media and focus on something else. This is a good strategy for many and I do have a policy of following the news only every other day.
However denial and distraction, whilst good for the short term, have never been my preferred solution. I work best with knowledge. My instinct is not to evade a problem but to dive right in and deal with it. So one of new experiences for this week is education. There are a ton of free and reduced price online courses out there. I could have taken up any topic like learning to play an instrument, master classes on how to write or act, conquering marketing via social media, picking up another language …… the list is endless. I may do some of this before this quarantine has ended depending on how long it goes on for, but for now I prefer to learn everything I can about Covid-19 from accredited sources.
This may seem obsessive to some of you and that’s fine with me, I’m good at obsessive and perfectly comfortable in that zone. But bare with me, because in amongst all the facts and figures is an awful lot of positive and heartening news, if you’re prepared to plough through the crap to get to it.
My first source is a free Cousera.com course run by the Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics (J-IDEA) at Imperial College London. These are the guys who are advising the UK government and many other authorities around the world on the likely spread of the Covid-19 virus. They are one of the top global authorities on statistical analysis and mathematical systems for predicting disease spread and their models are used by the World Health Organisation downwards. This course basically explains how they put the models together, where the information comes from and any assumptions they have made. They discuss the ongoing problems with lack of information and its effect on accuracy. The course is being updated real time and listening to some of the situation reports from February is a fascinating insight to how our understanding of this virus has evolved.
Now you need to be a bit of a maths geek to enjoy this course, which fortunately I am. It doesn’t help that the lady doing much of the interviewing and narrating is in serious need of a personality injection. If you’re able to stay awake during the videos you will walk away with a far better understanding of the statistics that are spewing forth from the health authorities, governments and media. You’re also better able to assess the accuracy of these figures and put them into context along side the bigger picture. Knowledge and understanding are a comfort to me all by themselves, I’d rather this than be overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of data.
Being able to accurately read the statistics means I’m quickly able to extract what is pertinent to me and not fixate on just the death toll. Whilst the number of deaths is shocking, and I sincerely grieve for those affected, I am also heartened by the fact that all data seems to say I and the majority of my friends and family are a low risk of dying from this disease. I’m also able to identify those at high risk and work to keep them safe, whilst mentally preparing for the worst just in case. You also get a better picture of just how long situation is likely to go on and stop waiting to see if the government is going to extend the quarantine because you already know from the statistics. Bed down folks we’re in this for a while, though Spain looks close to a plateau in new cases. Fingers crossed.
My second source is TedX. They are doing a series of online video interviews with key figures around the globe focusing on all aspects of this virus: the spread and how to deal with it, coping in quarantine, the history from China, understanding the statistics, learning emotional resilience, the work towards a cure etc. The great thing about the TedX videos is I can have them on in the background whilst I flitting around the house cleaning or getting some exercise in. TedX interviewees are invariably experts in their field and universally positive. Their focus is on what we can all do and learn from this experience and the way we are all working together to resolve this issue.
It is in fact incredible how well we are all uniting in the face of this pandemic. It would be so easy for us to retire to our own small groups and damn the rest of the world, but for the most part we are all cooperating with the extreme measures our governments are having to put in place. This is not for our own good that we do so, but because it is the only way to protect the elderly and the vulnerable by limiting the pressure on our health services. Even analysis of the detestable hoarders have shown that this was a very small minority. Most people were increasing their shopping by an amount sufficient to have a 2 week stock, which is what we were advised. The rest was just in time delivery catching up.
This cooperation is highlighted even further in the articles I read in scientific publications about the immense work going on to find a cure for Covid-19. Global teams are working around the clock to test existing medications and their efficacy against this disease. At least 10 different potential vaccines are in the pipeline and promising news has already started to come out of research into antivacs that is giving us a far better understanding of how the Sars-CoV-2 RNA manages to invade our cells.
These are not individuals teams but vast groups of specialists in university, hospital and pharmaceutical research departments across several countries, with funding often coming from several other countries. We may not be hopping on planes anymore but our borders are not closed. Food, medical supplies, expertise and research are all whizzing around our planet to where they need to be so humanity can surpass this crisis. And each of us are doin our part: companies are adapting their manufacturing plants to provide essential equipment; technophobes around the planet are embracing the internet; key workers continue to put themselves on the frontline; and the rest of us stay at home to deprive this virus of a host. It is incredible how well we are all working together and adapting.
As I finish writing this it is time for Spain’s 8pm cheering of the key workers. Every night without fail we ALL go to our windows to cheer and wave at each other whilst listening to the pop beats of the adopted anthem for Coronavirus in Spain: Resistiré. I do not know any of my neighbours but for a few minutes every day I feel really close to them and that song is seriously growing on me. It’s lyrics are deep and intense but it’s set to a really uplifting 80s pop tune (my era the 80s, so obviously it’s a brilliant song, they all were).
Together we will resist my friends.