“COVID-19 Alley” in our local supermarket runs from savoury biscuits to wines and spirits.
It is the aisle at the end of the store where shoppers with trolleys form an often-long queue to be directed to a checkout.
There’s mounting evidence that most coronavirus transmissions occur indoors though infected droplets of breath. So it’s here they run a relatively high risk of picking up the illness.
Not of dying from it, mind you.
For the many 25-44 year-olds who shop there, the risk from coronavirus (1 in 44,000) is almost a third of the likelihood of dying in a road accident in the next 12 months.
And anyone under 14 years old is less likely to die of COVID-19 than to be killed by lightning this year 1.
Let’s look at it another way. If everyone in my town, which has 4,000 or so residents, was aged between 45 and 64, how many of us would risk dying from SARS-Cov-22?
Across all ages in the town, the average risk of becoming a pandemic death statistic is lower than driving to work.
It can’t be repeated often enough that we’re all going to die sometime. But 9,950 out of 10,000 people in the UK won’t die of COVID-19.
95 per cent of those who’ve died from it had one or more life-threatening underlying conditions to begin with. Or they would have died of old age within another 18-24 months anyway.
There are two sides to risk. One is knowing what it is and the other is knowing what to do about it.
With COVID-19, the risk of being infected in a crowded indoor space is quite high because it does the airborne droplet transmission thing so efficiently.
On the other hand, unless you are old, unfit and/or already ill, it’s almost certainly not going to kill you. Chances are, you’ll hardly know you’ve caught it …if you haven’t already had it.
Assuming you want to minimise your personal risk as much as possible, then stay at home when you can. When you socialise, do it outdoors and don’t get too close to other people.
Don’t touch your face when you’re away from home; wash your hands often, and use sanitiser when you can’t use soap and water.
It’s ridiculous for the police and media to bellyache about people sunbathing and doing other outdoor stuff when the primary points of transmission (aside from hospitals and care homes) are the few sanctioned public indoor spaces like trains and supermarkets.
COVID-19 will stay around until enough people have acquired immunity by getting it, or if there’s a vaccine. Probably the first of those.
We could just get on with life and take our (extremely good) chance of neither dying nor being seriously ill.
But to do that would require a big information campaign to educate the public about the actual levels of risk involved.
That would raise awkward questions about why governments’ response to coronavirus has been so Draconian relative to the danger to most of us. And it might encourage people to think for themselves. Which is something neither the government nor the corporate media has any interest in doing.
- Based on data from England and Wales up to 1 May ↩