September 24, 2022

The Corona diaries – day 2

Where do I start? It´s the 17th of March 2020 and the Coronavirus pandemic is really getting into its stride. Here in central Europe, the schools have been closed since yesterday, public life is reducing significantly and from tomorrow all non-essential shops and services will have to close. France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Denmark have closed down completely and I reckon that we will be in the same situation in a few days. In addition to my usual work as psychosomatic orthopod, parent and occasional trauma surgeon, I am now a junior school teacher for grades 3 and 4 and a senior school teacher (well more advisor really) for grade 10. Life has, however, slowed down a lot which does have its upsides. No extracurricular activities and driving kids about, no school runs in the morning before work. We fortunately both work at the same place at the moment so we can do a sort of relay system to keep home/school and work running concurrently.

I was out in the garden yesterday and finally got round to debranching the tree which fell over about a month ago in the February storms, I cut it into about one metre lengths in case we need to build something with it. It was the first time I had been out in the garden properly this year. I saw a bright yellow butterfly (brimstone?) and the first bumble bee of the year but aircraft overhead were intriguingly missing.

I read an excellent article yesterday about the spread of the Corona virus by Tomas Pueyo (link) which is well worth reading if you have the time and inclination and is also available in numerous translations. I was just musing about a few numbers with the aim of guessing how long the current situation my last:

Population of Germany is very approximately 80 million.

Maximum tolerable number of known concurrent Corona infections lets say 100 000 (this would imply between 250 000 and, say, 400 000 real infections).

Length of treatment cycle for more severe cases I guess at average 3 weeks.

This would imply approximately 200 batches for 80% of the population to become infected assuming 330 000 real infections per batch.

200 batches at 3 weeks treatment cycle each would take 11 years!

Now obviously this is a pathetically simple model with no account of births and deaths from other causes and some pretty arbitrary numbers so I would say that the result should be set as “a number of years”.

The reason I was thinking about this was after reading this article by Daniel Stelter (article in German, link here) which explains why the stock market is diving so soon and so rapidly. I learned about “leverage” as a financial concept and the dynamics of bubble growth and how and why they burst, also well worth reading. I was wondering how long the current regime of social distancing might last and with airlines, the travel business and hospitality sectors and many more already struggling I was wondering what sort of territory we´re heading into. I have the feeling that the current economic system is not going to hold up and is possibly not the ideal way to manage resources in times of difficulty. I think that we may well be in for a different couple of years and some permanent changes.

I am quietly confident though, people are inherently innovative and flexible and at the end of the day we all just want a place to live, enough to eat and an opportunity to earn our daily bread in a way that feels more or less meaningful.

In my new Corona world it´s now time to think about what to teach the kids tomorrow and how to squeeze in work and… maybe I might have time to have another go at planting a vegetable patch…

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