Ever since this pesky virus broke I have been dismayed at the manner in which the media has reported it. Instead of seeking balance and a calm reporting of facts we have witnessed hysterical propaganda causing a wave of fear to grip this nation. Will anyone hold the media accountable for the overblown fear instilled in the community which disproportionately affects the vulnerable and elderly?
Each fatality accompanied with old photographs and only sketchy details about the overall health of victims at point of death. One had to dig into the data to discover that the median age of Covid death was lower, in any given nation, than national life expectancy. Only later was it revealed, and not in the headlines either, that two thirds of all Covid deaths were amongst those with proven disability. A fact which is terribly sad but totally changes the narrative of gloom as put out by the media. A media which has also failed to report widely on the fact that deaths in recent weeks are running well below average for this time of year. Which rather suggests many of those who have died were due to die this year in any case.
All deaths are tragic and we would be foolhardy to play down the threat of this nasty virus. But if the vast majority dying were at the end of life, as seems the case, then we are not quite in the territory of fighting off a new ‘black death’ as the media would have us believe. Most of us are not going to die of this. A fact I have had to gently spell out to several people too terrified to leave their homes at present. If you know somebody who is frightened urge them to switch off the television and avoid newspapers. An over saturation of Covid news is doing great harm to healthy perspectives.
Take the headlines today reporting on how scientists have modelled various scenarios for the government ahead of any possible resurgence of virus this winter. In reality the scientists presented a RANGE of scenarios. From the very best scenario of no second wave to the very worst scenario of all. No prizes for guessing which the media ran with! Why do they always give us the worst case not the best? Why do they report heavily on deaths but say next to nothing about positive recovery rates? Why do they warn that only a minority of people have antibodies when latest research suggests most people fight this virus with T-cells not antibodies meaning we might be closer to herd immunity many realised?
Yes the virus is bad. But there is plenty of good news if you look for it. Healthy children are all but immune. Over 99% of us have survived thus far. And the worst case scenario -as presented in the media at the outbreak of this crisis – which claimed a half million of us would be dead by now- simply never materialised. Both cases and deaths are now plummeting. And no second wave has occurred save in places that locked down so hard that the first was heavily suppressed. All of this is reason for cheer.
The Catholic faith teaches that hope is a great Christian virtue. And I think one of the best ways Christians can minister in the present crisis is to rise above the panic gripping this nation and become beacons of hope and positivity to those around us. This does not mean turning into Pollyanna and being recklessly optimistic and ignoring guidelines. It means keeping risks in perspective and not caving into the gloom. It means accepting there is risk in life and not letting fear of death stifle and govern us.
After all if we have hope filled faith death is far from the worst thing that can happen. Christians might even look forward to it though preferably at the end of life not prematurely. Stay safe, keep smiling, and know that this virus is bad but nowhere near as bad as the media would have you believe.