Ordinary people mostly have fickle minds; they are always guided by what they want to believe, often to their advantage. When they are worried, scared, and clueless about the future, they are more vulnerable to self-doubt and conspiracy theories. For the past six months, people around the world are very concerned about the COVID 19 pandemic, not so much about the deadly effects of the virus but about the restrictions and lockdowns derailing normal life that it has brought in its wake. They desperately need to get back to the sweet normal times and live happily ever after and therefore fully accept and believe when some motivated souls offer that ‘COVID 19 is a hoax, it is nothing more than an ‘annual flu’. This is how the ‘doubt virus’ is created and social networks, as always, help it to spread, sometimes much faster than the killer virus. Perhaps the basic impetus for skepticism stems from the fact that more than 80% of positive coronavirus cases are mild in nature and recover easily, only the elderly with comorbidity are the most vulnerable, and that, on average, the rate of mortality is low from 1 to 4. % except for some countries. However, the facts also show that the dead also include young people and anyone can be infected with this highly contagious virus.
The conspiracy theories originated in the United States, as always, where extraordinarily ‘democratic’ sections of the citizenry opposed the lockdown and restrictions from the start, symbolizing them with President Trump’s ‘agenda’. Various conspiracy theories linking even the tragic murder of George Floyd began to circulate in the US which we will not make a description of here just to prevent vulnerable minds from going through and instilling doubt. We would just like to mention here that this writer got a social media breakthrough by linking to an article by an ‘enlightened soul’ who went to great lengths to ‘prove’ that the pandemic is a ‘political hoax’. As we mentioned earlier, this influenced many vulnerable people, not least a surgeon from the Indian state of Assam who even filed an FIR claiming that only one ‘annual flu’ has been labeled a pandemic and wanted action. against the governments concerned. This naturally created a chain reaction on state news channels prompting hapless ordinary people to be asked about their ‘doubts’ about COVID 19 infections instead of destroying the dilemma.
Now, this ‘annual flu’ theory breaks down to the basic premise itself: if that is so, then this phenomenon must be happening every year, and why then should this year be so different! Governments need not have launched an emergency campaign to create more and more healthcare facilities, including ICU beds, just to deal with an annual flu event. Then come the experiences of various countries and governments affected by this ‘annual flu’, some of which we narrate below as arguments to break this type of false and motivated visions:
1. Let us take the example of the Chinese experiment. Ignoring many conspiracy theories about China itself, we are only asking here why China would need outright authoritarian measures to combat the virus (well, even the annual flu is caused by a virus) in terms of continued lockdown and rigorous enforcement. After managing to keep the number of infected below 100,000, the country still fears a second outbreak and is risking its economic recession again to prevent its spread. His aggression against India can also be explained as part of his apparent desperation. An annual flu cannot explain this.
2. Why would countries like the UK, Italy, Spain, France, US and Brazil suffer so much from an annual flu that has killed more than half a million so far and is still lurking to death? Why would Italy be reduced to a state of helplessness with corpses of Corona patients read everywhere or why would a German finance minister commit suicide over Corona concerns? How can a mortality rate of more than 14% (seen in some countries) from an annual influenza virus be accounted for?
3. Why do doctors and experts from the World Health Organization keep telling ‘lies’ that the new coronavirus is very dangerous, that it would probably last more than two years and that the worst is yet to come despite the campaigns or actions being taken or taken against you? At first we seemed to have accepted that this pandemic is the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced. Now why have second thoughts and doubts?
4. Why would countries around the world continue to take huge risks of economic collapse with unprecedented unemployment and pave the way for a recession possibly even worse than the Great Depression? In particular, why a very promising developing country and next world power like India should risk everything it has achieved in development so far.
5. Why is there such a mad race around the world to speed up the production of a vaccine just against the annual flu? At least such intensive medical research cannot mask a hidden agenda, whatever it may be.
In recent days, new cases in India have risen to nearly 25,000 per day with the only consolation being that daily recoveries are steadily increasing and the fatality rate, thankfully, remains low; the concern is a rising positivity rate indicating community transmission. At this crucial moment, we must not pay attention to conspiracy theories and fake news. Such theories have obvious goals: to generate publicity for unknown people or groups or to make a killing in terms of profit. For example, if a link to an article with sensational and scary headlines is circulating on social and motivated media, think about the type of clicks that are generated that translate directly into money.
Therefore, we must not fall prey to such propaganda at all costs. It is encouraging to see that various social media platforms have taken steps to neutralize the threads of the conspiracy. In relation to India, we must say here that the government should find time to brief the media frequently as it has been doing before to describe the facts and doubts instead of cowering behind the rising numbers. Similarly, more respected bodies like the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) should desist from publishing dates for vaccine production. The ICMR’s announcement that a vaccine could be possible by August 15, 2020 has added to the doubts already created, with even sensible people and the media asking why the ICMR should be in such a hurry. The mantra right now should be to fight the killer virus with the combined might of the world and defeat it while avoiding its possible second wave.