Coping with Delta
By my count that began in March 2020, this is the 480th day of the pandemic. By this morning India has lost 414,108 lives to Covid-19 and more than 30 million people have tested positive for the virus. The delta variant that emerged in India during the second wave continues to rage through the world. This week it is Indonesia where the daily cases have increased to staggering levels, bringing the country to the situation we have seen in other countries at various points. Daily cases in the UK have also been on the rise. These at a time when the leaders of the country came frightfully close to withdrawing restrictions and mask wearing as mandatory.
In the past week the pandemic turned into a bit of a sideshow as several countries were hit with climate related disasters – floods in Western Europe, heat waves in Russia, US and Canada and the strange dry spell in our region in Central India despite this being the rainy season.
As with a typical long-run event, there’s fatigue and learning that has kicked in. The pandemic is likely to continue well into the next year. Vaccination continues to be a sad story with severe inequalities in its access. After stopping global supply, India continues to keep its vaccines for itself. It has administered more than 400 million doses to its population by now. Many other Western countries have achieved more than 50% coverage of its population.
Every passing week of this pandemic is bringing along new insights. Sometimes these insights are just plain realisations on how we could have done better. For instance, did the world (governments) overreact with the pandemic response? What did the countries achieve by locking down or the shelter in place orders? One side of the argument suggests that it brought more misery and suffering in addition to the pandemic’s. In a podcast at EconTalk , Don Boudreaux argues that the pandemic response has been ‘a huge overreaction, including unnecessary lockdowns that accomplished little at a very high cost in physical and emotional health.’ In the second wave here in our hometown, I am inclined to Boudreaux’s line of thinking.
The pandemic has led some of us to access spaces within our lives (and quite possibly within ourselves) that would not have been accessible or even known otherwise. The striking levels of comfort that we have had to conduct our professions sitting on our kitchen tables is remarkable. We now have the whole house milling around ourselves as we fix our minds and attention on work related tasks. This is not just a lifestyle change. There is something fundamental sifting here – a part of our compartmentalized, legible lives have gotten blended into one large continuum. It is unprecedented.