Advantage in favour of COVID-19


Advantage in favour of COVID-19


Friday, May 08, 2020

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Although we have seen an absence of sporting events globally, one thing is certain is that if the current COVID-19 situation was a competition, it would be advantage COVID-19, as we continue to be weakened by the continuous attack of the virus.

It is very clear from how this has progressed, that COVID-19 has been winning the war against countries and humanity in general, as it has not only exacted a high death toll on the global population, but more importantly for me is that it has forced us into retreat and has shown up deficiencies in leadership globally.

It has amazed me to see how quickly people who otherwise have “big talk”, and espouse their greatness has taken the approach of “let us all roll over and die”, rather than the famous words of Claude McKay, who wrote “If we must die, let it not be like hogs, hunted and penned in an inglorious spot. If we must die, O let us nobly die”.

Because the truth is that we have caused this virus to hunt us down and penned us in the “inglorious spot” called lockdown and completely changed our lives forever.

As a global environment, we have lapped our tails between our legs and run away, as I have seen some cyclists do who get dropped from the pack (which we call cut), and instead of as we say to those who get “cut”, go home eat some cement, toughen up and try again next week, they have retreated fully from the pressures of cycling.

Or as Winston Churchill said “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision” and “if you're going through hell, keep going”.

These words tell us of a time of leaders who did not recklessly send their people to slaughter but showed fortitude at a time when they were threatened and confronted the enemy head-on instead of rolling over and say “the enemy is coming so run into your house and lockdown”.

Instead what they did is that they recognised the threat and strategised how they would deal with it but never run away in fear from it.

As Tsun Zu points out in The Art of War, you cannot allow your enemy to come around you at all angles and shut you down completely, which is what we have allowed COVID-19 to do to us.

In fact, if COVID-19 was indeed an alien attack, I suspect that our global leader would now be living on another planet.

Don't get me wrong, no one is saying that we should recklessly proceed as we were before. However, we have allowed fear to drive us into submission, as we saw with the days of slavery and if it wasn't (in Jamaica's case) for heroes like Bogle, Sharpe, Nanny, Gordon and Garvey, we may well not have the rights we do today.

As I said before, I am always amazed when I see people in leadership say let's just all go home and lockdown and disrupt our livelihood as we know it and to hell with those who can't afford to stay home, just behave yourselves and stay home even if you have to look at your children who cry for food. And even if we have to disadvantage children who cannot learn because they have no access to the Internet, you just behave yourselves and stay home because I am OK.

And then they continue to say, but all essential workers who are needed to make my life comfortable must continue to work and expose themselves, which I am not willing to do.

So if essential workers have to be going out to protect us and make us comfortable, then we don't really have a lockdown then.

In the book Blink, written by Malcolm Gladwell, he points out that most times the best decisions may be made by gut (instinctive) feelings, as when we think too much sometimes emotions come into decision-making and we ignore the wisdom of the experience we have. Of course, he says “gut feelings” are really the brain quickly processing the years of experience from various circumstances that allow us to make quick decisions.

In another book, Superforecasters, the authors point out that their research shows that the best forecasters they have seen are ordinary individuals, with normally higher than average IQ levels, who were able to process information much more objectively than the experts with all their models.

What these two references point to is that our constant pouring over information can sometimes cause us to get emotional about decisions and end up many times making what is not the optimal decision. Such as, for example, taking our decisions based on the news on CNN, or the American press and not looking objectively at other countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, and even Sweden, and saying what have they done right and what have they done wrong. And how do they compare in their measures versus the US, UK, Italy, Spain and Germany. What are the characteristics that they have in relation to each other such as age demographics, concentration in nursing homes, obesity and other underlying conditions, mass transit and more. How did Taiwan, for example, manage to have one of the best results globally without locking down their economy, and what is the long-term impact on the countries based on the decisions taken.

How can we minimise the death toll from the virus because it seems obvious that lockdown has not worked, as the top five countries for death all had lockdown, and so it may have been timing and other factors?

This is the type of information we need to look at as we strategise how to fight this virus by not retreating in a way that disrupts everything we have worked so hard for, and thereby set us back years.

I think, for example, about the people who have a short period to retirement, whose pension plans have seen significant fall off and would have utilised most of not all their personal resources over the past two months.

What is clear though is that the longer-term impact is going to be great.

In Jamaica, for example, GDP will fall anywhere between 5 and 15 per cent. Crime and poverty will certainly go up. The fiscal accounts will come under pressure and we are already seeing the impact on the exchange rate, which is because I believe that we have been very slow in action needed to address the economic fallout that was coming.

We have also failed to take advantage of the lull to address things like road indiscipline, as I see that the taxis are now coming back with their undisciplined ways and during this lower traffic time the police are not out there to try and curb the indiscipline when its easier to do so. We will welcome back the road indiscipline and night noise, as normal ways of life.

In summary, so far COVID has gained the advantage over us as humans, as we have allowed it to change our very way of existing and shows how easy it is for some stronger force to do even more damage. My mind goes back to the movie Independence Day with Will Smith, and wonder what the outcome would be if that had happened now.

Dennis Chung is the author of Charting Jamaica's Economic and Social Development AND Achieving Life's Equilibrium. His blog is


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