The Optimism Bias, states that it has to do with the way the brain works. The cognitive aspect. In effect, even in the face of clear evidence that there are dangers or reason for pessimism, people opt for optimism, dismissing the danger. The reemergence of the SARS virus in a deadlier form was warned by scientists and hundreds of papers have been written on it. Unfortunately, human psychology decided to ignore the writing on the wall “Large Scale Death”.
Psychological reactance refers to the idea that when individual freedoms are “reduced or threatened with reduction,” people tend to be “motivationally aroused to regain” those freedoms. That is, when you tell me what to do, a part of me feels compelled to do the opposite.
While there have been conflicting opinions of believers and people who treat COVID19 as another flu, the fact is that the pace of spread of the virus has created more panic than the virus itself. Wearing masks not just prevents the spread of COVID19 virus but general flu too.
Its a hoax. the nature of this crisis is fundamentally different than many that have come before — that is, the catastrophe is coming, but it has not fully “arrived” yet. Experts suggest that the peak of the pandemic wave is still several weeks away. In light of this, it is easy to wave a dismissive hand at the advice; “I mean, no one seems sick — this is a hoax!”
Psychological reactance is fuelled by misinformation drive.With social media in particular replete with information supporting almost any perspective on the ongoing crisis, people are increasingly able to locate and follow only their preferred advice. Sadly, this advice is often based on fictions, or is politically motivated, which makes it even harder for the correct advice to shine through.
We started with less COVID19 and more fear to more COVID19 and less fear. Humans dropped their guards and thought normalcy had been restored till they were struck by an even deadlier strain of COVID19 which spread much faster.
Re-emergence of SARS
In 2007 a paper was written on the subject “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus as an Agent of Emerging and Reemerging Infection” by Vincent C. C. Cheng, Susanna K. P. Lau, Patrick C. Y. Woo, and Kwok Yung Yuen*
The paper pointedly states that the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (SARS-CoV)that caused the first major pandemic of the new millennium was due to the rapid economic growth in southern China that had led to an increasing demand for animal proteins including those from exotic game food animals such as civets. The paper warns that “Large numbers and varieties of these wild game mammals in overcrowded cages and the lack of biosecurity measures in wet markets allowed the jumping of this novel virus from animals to human. Its capacity for human-to-human transmission, the lack of awareness in hospital infection control, and international air travel facilitated the rapid global dissemination of this agent. Over 8,000 people were affected, with a crude fatality rate of 10%. The acute and dramatic impact on health care systems, economies, and societies of affected countries within just a few months of early 2003 was unparalleled since the last plague. The small reemergence of SARS in late 2003 after the resumption of the wildlife market in southern China and the recent discovery of a very similar virus in horseshoe bats, bat SARS-CoV, suggested that SARS can return if conditions are fit for the introduction, mutation, amplification, and transmission of this dangerous virus.”
Ticking time bomb
Studies have shown that Corona Virus undergo genetic recombination which may lead to new outbreaks. The precise warning given by the scientists was “The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb. The possibility of the reemergence of SARS and other novel viruses from animals or laboratories and therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored.”
The general opinion at the onset of the COVID19 outbreak was that masks are required to be worn only by those who have been infected by COVID19 and that the size of the droplet is fairly big to be suspended in the air for aerosol transmission. However past research papers have recorded otherwise.
The large community outbreak of SARS in 2003 was recorded in a private housing estate of Hong Kong where contaminated aerosols generated in toilets by exhaust fans coupled by dried U traps of sewage drains which caused an explosive outbreak effecting hundreds of people. Transmission of the virus in short flights was also due to aerosol transmission amongst other means.
While its easier to blame each other in hindsight, its never too late to learn lessons from past experiences and have robust disaster management setups which have the ear of the top decision maker because Safety Matters.
SafetyMatters is a Non Governmental Organisation dedicated for all Safety Matters ,not just aviation.