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Henry Madison 🦠x0

Henry Madison 🦠x0

Jan 24, 2023
9 tweets

The Covid debate between suppressing transmission and focusing on severe disease is really a battle between two belief systems about society. One belief system says society is made of millions of individuals, each choosing their own fate. And the other says that’s impossible. /1

I was thinking about this when reading the regular stats about hospitalisations and deaths, and how they remain criminally high into our 4th year of the pandemic. Excess deaths way above what would have been considered normal or acceptable even a handful of years ago. /2
I use this image of a train platform to illustrate the clash of the belief systems. Who on this platform is ‘vulnerable’ to severe disease, from Covid? Would they even know? If they did know, if they were immunocompromised for example, would they ever be able to catch a train…/3
…like this again, without risking their life? The great fallacy of the severe disease, personal responsibility belief system is that it ignores how profoundly interconnected our societies now are. How everything we do is reliant upon the work of others, in ‘supply chains’. /4
Society isn’t a free market of isolated individuals, each contributing their individual bit in isolation from everybody else. Take the meat packers, heavy victims of Covid infection. Societies quickly realised that without them, people got no meat. They were forced back…/5
…to work to keep us all fed. The reason we need to target transmission, as @Prof Brendan Crabb AC argued so forcefully again this week, is because it recognises this interconnectedness of our social processes. The reason the hospitalisations and deaths are still at historically…/6
…high levels is because with wide transmission, the virus will eventually always find ‘the vulnerable’. (And in the longer term, that may be all of us.) It will always find them because everything we do is interconnected. Our ‘economies’ are really societies that are more…/7
…socially complex and connected than any from history. Whether it’s energy, transport, health, food, schooling, or whatever, all of it is layer upon layer of social bonds woven together. Which makes ‘personal responsibility’ particularly obnoxious, a freeloading parasite…/8
…on our complex social lives. We have to control transmission, because we can’t control the virus any other way without all retreating to Thoreau’s hut in the woods. There aren’t 8 billion huts, and there are only a handful of woods. And no economy, just birds. /ends
Henry Madison 🦠x0
All views my own. RT ≠ endorsement. Engineer, teaching, PhD history and philosophy, governance (higher ed and government), pedagogical research.
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