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  • Writer's pictureJoe

Coronavirus, cure versus the disease

The discussion about the "cures being worse than the disease" has continued through this week, and it is striking how many people fail to understand that social distance measures need time to work. What we're seeing now with the number of hospitalisations reducing in American cities deemed hot spots is a result of social distancing efforts from two to three weeks ago. That we're social distancing means that weeks from now, we will reap the rewards. Because so many people need to receive an immediate reward for their behaviour, they feel that it is owed to them that they get back to work, back to some sense of normal.

Here's a thought experiment for those people who believe that the social distancing measures implemented have run their course and we may now return to normal.

Suppose that you would like to plan a family trip to an exotic location. The trip is very expensive that will require you to save money, to do some research on the destination, and-eventually-after some review plan the trip. The trip is so expensive that you calculate that you will need at least 40% of your annual salary to spend for it. You further calculate that you will need to stop recreating with friends and family, and you may even have to take up a second job to save as much as you need. If you have an interest in your future self and family members to enjoy that vacation, you will do all of these things. And it is likely that you do it.

Isn't the social distancing measures implemented over the last few months the same scenario? Yes, it is. Just as with a family trip, you are putting your health, and the health of your family and friends, first because of the investment for the future. You understand that by not recreating with them now that you will be able to do so later. If you decide to recreate now, it's entirely possible that your friends and family will not be around. They could, under such circumstances, contract the virus, suffer, and die because you decided not to save and to invest in your future and theirs.

I fail to see how the thought experiment and the social distancing measures are distinct. It seems that on both we are investing in the welfare of our future selves, not just our own individual well-being but the health and well-being of ourselves, family, and friends.

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