Every new day brings the fresh realization that Covid-19 has brought a whole lot of trouble to the world at large. There is no firm agreement on the provenance of the novel coronavirus, variants are making its management even harder, hope that the vaccines will stamp it out are dampened by delays in their production, competition and challenges regarding their efficacy, while the wild theories of a handful of kooks are gaining traction among weary citizens and cash-strapped professionals. The pressure eventually gets to governments as well, leading to contradictory decisions.
The data that accompany this confusing picture are very specific and causing serious concern among reasonable citizens who wonder and despair about the future – and with good reason too.
To begin with, the World Health Organization’s recent study in China on the provenance of the virus did not come to any definitive conclusions, as the report obviously fell into the meat grinder of international geopolitics. The experts have made no secret of the fact that they have come under pressure to lean in one direction or another.
Secondly, there is no doubt of the virus’ aggressive transmissibility, adaptability, potency and durability. Its nature is constantly revealed in the dramatic numbers of new infections, intubations and deaths, as well as in the variants that keep emerging and new flare-ups in many countries, and especially in Europe. We are also seeing a new spike in the offing in the United States as a result of a loosening of restrictions on the back of an admittedly effective vaccination program.
A third factor is that Western governments and societies could not and cannot implement the kind of tough measures imposed in China and other countries, particularly in Asia, for curbing the virus, and this has been evident since the onset of the pandemic. Now it is also becoming clear that the vaccinations are powerful pawns in the rivalries between divergent corporate, national and political interests.
Last but not least, the pandemic was an opportunity for Europe to move closer to unity. It tried to accomplish this with collective bargaining for vaccinations and certain measures, but then failed, giving rise to national policies and unilateral decisions that are sowing fear and doubt among the public. The controversy surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine is a case in point.
The most important factor causing concerns, though, is the public’s reactions to the restrictions. These were apparent from the very first lockdown but are becoming more intense by the day, undermining the effectiveness of measures, the operation of healthcare systems and social cohesion. Like others, Greece is also in the grips of such uncertainty.