Killing us, not so softly

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COVID is as formidable an enemy as you can get, for there is not sufficient incontrovertible data which can allow for strategic planning against it.

Which is why our best bet is to ‘hide’ from it, which is what we are doing essentially with all the protocols, restrictions and lockdowns, even as we hope that with a widespread vaccination drive, we can develop the ‘herd immunity’ which insulates us.

But the success of the latter cannot be presumed, for in any human situation with so lengthy a freedom restriction, people won’t always follow the protocols, and on the matter of vaccination, the issue of vaccine hesitancy is getting worse as evidenced by virtually empty stations a few days ago.

But even as we ‘hide’ from the virus, we must ‘live’ life in its multiple manifestations, for without the action and interaction of these myriad forms of living, without the continuing engagement among these various modes of existence as we know it, we cease to be the social animals that we are by nature.

And even as we may not be clinically dead in the ‘hole’ in which we isolate ourselves, we are virtually ‘dead’ in terms of our social existence.

Which is why the ‘numbers’ cannot be the only critical factor. There must also be continuous monitoring of the degree of social engagement in the society, in all its forms, to include the workplace, socialising, consumption, et al.

And even as unacceptable Covid numbers must concern us and influence policy, so too must unacceptable levels of engagement, which limit the society in maintaining its accustomed level of dynamism.

My view is that the planners are so preoccupied with the numbers and the need to keep them down as a way to keep us ‘alive’ that in such a onedimen sional way of seeing, with such tunnel vision, they seem to forget, or are simply deficient in the knowledge, that they are in fact ‘killing’ us, and not so softly, by not giving equal priority to the need for continuing engagement-social, political and economic-which is the lifeblood of our existence as social beings.

If only those who manage our lives could strive for a more studied, informed and holistic approach to the virus, we would stand a chance-not only of ‘physical’ life but also of ‘life’ as a continuing, dynamic, social entity which we are by nature.

Dr Errol N Benjamin