Reply to post: Re: Which is more important, society or individual?

Taiwan collars coronavirus quarantine scofflaws with smartphone geo-fences. So, which nation will be next?

Palpy Silver badge

Re: Which is more important, society or individual?

For a couple of centuries, this question has been answered somewhat differently in the progressive West than in the Asian East. The US has taken individualism to an extreme; China and some other Asian countries go the other way, and expect individuals to always yield for the good of society. This is in general, of course, and there are plenty of examples in both spheres in which people have swum against the cultural tendency.

From what I read, until a vaccine is developed, there is no way to "defeat" the Co-SARS-2 virus. Until somewhere between 30% and 60% of people have been infected and either recovered or died -- ie, until the population as a whole has enough immune individuals to defeat the virus' ability to find individuals to infect -- then the virus will continue to spread.

A given area can reach "herd immunity" quick, or it can do it slowly.

Doing it quick means a massive death toll. Mmmm, maybe 600,000 to 1.5 million Americans dead of the virus in a few months, and a smaller number of deaths due to lack of medical support for other cases (for instance, if your grandma needs a ventilator when her emphysema worsens suddenly in the middle of April, just plan her funeral).

Doing it slow means locking down society to a considerably greater extent than the US or any western nation has done. Theoretically, by slowing the spread of the virus and keeping the medical system from overload, I think we could hold the direct death toll to maybe 240,000 in the US. Medical support for non-virus purposes would be mostly unimpacted.

But in the real world, responses like Bob's make it clear that Americans won't slow the spread of the virus. US politicians have already failed in taking much easier measures, and it's politically infeasible to go the Singapore or Taiwan route. Even if the government tried to impose Singapore-style measures, too many Americans would find ways around them, and the measures would fail on the ground.

So it's pretty much a done deal: The US, the UK, France, Italy, and Spain are going to take the faster, deadlier ride.

But that may not prevent the FBI and other three-letter agencies from pushing enhanced surveillance laws through Congress. They want tracking and face-recog, and this provides an excuse. The ratchet only works in one direction, as we know: emergency surveillance is never rescinded, emergency powers are never revoked.

(In a similar vein, the economic recession or depression-to-be will allow the 10% to 14% of American corporations which never made enough profit to cover their expenses -- "zombie" corporations which are sustained only by repeated low-interest loans -- to take out yet more cheap money under the cover of a necessary bailout. Ditto for the low-profit high-margin fracking corporations which were formed when oil was $80 per barrel -- now that it's down to $30 a barrel, those corporations are dead in the water. But they'll receive bailout money anyway.)

It's possible that the virus will mutate to a less-virulent form. That's favored by evolution; a disease which kills its host is not as likely to persist as one which just makes them cough and sniffle for a week. It would be GREAT if CoV-SARS-2 mutated in that way. But the probability in the short term is quite low. Not a winning lottery ticket.

It's also possible that a seasonal component will become apparent, and the pandemic will slow as the northern hemisphere enters the summer months. I don't see much evidence of that happening. Some watchers have claimed that it's spreading more slowly in southern areas of the US than northern, but Florida seems to be notching up infections as fast as Washington, and Florida is about as warm as the US gets in March.

My personal takeaway: Yes, the three-letter agencies will push for enhanced surveillance-and-tracking powers, and they will use the pandemic to justify it.

No, it won't make any difference in the spread of CoV-SARS-2 in the US. We're already on the fast-and-deadly route for our epidemic.

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