Covid-19 Update: Kudos to the Buddha?

Coronavirus under a microscope

Covid-19, aka ‘novel Coronavirus:’ the phrase strikes fear in the hearts of the smartest, and derision in the minds of the not-so, Trumpsters et al adamantly wishing it away, as though that were all that is necessary to defeat a Conspiracy Theory that just can’t find the exit and leave, no matter how hard the combined wits of the Republican Party try… and try… and try.

But the reality is all too sobering, as we stand at another important crossroads, and possibly wrapping up a dizzying Phase Two, for which there will likely be a Phase Three when the winter kicks in, potential vaccines notwithstanding. The figures are mind-numbing: world leader USA just passed the threshold 200K deaths from Covid-19 and 7M confirmed cases, all while President Trump dodges any responsibility for it, at the same time that he admits that he lied about it all along—and still does.

Meanwhile India stands at a solid Number Two in the standings, approaching 6M cases now, though late to the game, and 80-100K cases per day, or more than the official all-time total of China—every day. Their rate per million is much less than that of the USA, though, given their huge population, and their 90K deaths is far less than the USA or Brazil, which rounds out the Top 3. All Top 3 countries were tied for daily total cases only about a month ago, at 65K approximately.

Brazil, of course, is proudly anti-science and pro-Conspiracy, same as Trump, and the results are just as profound: a rate of infection per million equal to that of the USA and 4.4M total number of infections, at a rate of 30 to 40K per day, more or less equal to that of the USA. Accordingly, any of the Top three countries could arguably be considered the epicenter of the virus now, especially if you consider that most of the rest of the Top 10 are South American neighbors of Brazil, and the USA’s neighbor Mexico, which may finally be cooling off, hopefully.

Those South American countries include tiny Peru, and Colombia, tied at #5 and #6 in total cases, plus hotspot Argentina and previous hotspot Chile, testament to the integration of the continent, whose viral wrath only the three Guianas, Uruguay, and to a lesser extent, Venezuela, have escaped. Russian is a solid #4 since forever, with 5-6K cases per day, almost like clockwork. Even more remarkable is #12 Iran, which was #3 after China and South Korea, before the USA even had a case, and has registered 2-3K cases per day every day since, for a total of some 430K confirmed cases, but still less than 25K deaths.

South Africa is the only African country in the top ranks, with #9 South Africa, which has now cooled down to less than 2K cases per day, after a period of raging virus. And Europe is back strongly in the second tier, with #8 Spain far in the lead, and France now #11 and raging, after doing so well for so long, UK not far behind at #13. The only real surprise in Europe is how well Italy has done, now #19, but still only 300K cases, so no real second wave, after long leading Europe, even issuing dire warnings to the US. Germany is only slightly behind at #21, after receiving many accolades (undeserved IMHO), for successfully combating the virus. Sweden still has almost 3x the number of cases as Denmark and Norway added together, so you can cancel that victory lap IMHO.

The Islamic countries of Turkey, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iraq fill out the rest of the 2nd Tier between UK and Italy. But East Asia is still far better than all the rest, only Christian Philippines and Muslim Indonesia in the top ranks (3rd tier) of hard-hit countries. I’ve previous stated my case that Buddhism, and perhaps Communism, are contributing factors to the others’ success, if for no other reason than simple obedience, but extreme hygiene and a society long-accustomed to mask-wearing are also possible reasons, that and genetics. We’ll have to see if Myanmar (Burma) can curb their current raging virus to see if my Buddhist-only theory of Corona success holds any truth to it.

Regardless of the final verdict on East Asia, why has Africa also been so successful? Assuming their statistics are accurate, it’s hard to imagine there being any other reason than genetics. For that is really the only way that they differ substantially from all the rest, their vastly more complete genome, which would assume that they might simply have been exposed to similar viruses so often that a level of herd immunity exists there that is lacking elsewhere. Or maybe they just haven’t done enough testing to even have accurate figures yet. South Africa’s relatively high percentage of white residents would explain that surge, if indeed it affected whites more than ethnic Africans. The mostly-black Caribbean countries align closely with African results.

My only complaint and warning on the narrative is the constant bias given to Western countries, as if only New Zealand has had some success (far from true), and as if only Western countries matter. If anything Western countries need to be ‘called out’ for their selfish and individualistic attitudes, and the US especially, for its ineptness at the highest levels, for a country whose CDC was once the gold standard for pandemic preparedness.

History will have a job to figure it all out in the end, but for now, it’s only a matter of time while we wait for a vaccine. No country has really beat the virus, and it’s obvious that mitigation is simply the only sorta-almost-maybe ‘sure cure.’ If that means a curtailment of lifestyle and nightlife, then so be it. Maybe there is more than one reason why bars and pubs were always seen as dens of iniquity.

But ballooning populations would seem to be the real culprit, that and the capitalist growth mentality that encourages it. If we want to beat the pandemics, and global warming, we simply must be satisfied with reductions to our excessive lifestyles. The sky is not the limit. The world is. Let’s start to live within our means, our physical means, the sooner the better—as we pass our thirty millionth confirmed case of Covid-19.

R.I.P. to all the dearly departed…