Like many other European countries, the UK is seeing a rapidly increasing number of COVID infections at present. The national lockdown earlier in the year was very effective in suppressing spread of the virus, but governments are aware of the very severe effects that the lockdown had on the economy, and on the mental health of many in the population. The Westminster Government was, by all accounts, surprised at the degree of compliance of the population with full lockdown, but there is growing evidence that a significant sector of the population is unwilling to comply with the various measures now being proposed to slow the spread of the disease.
My previous posts have dealt with the fact that, even in the midst of a catastrophic pandemic, the ultra-rich are getting richer. However, it is well known that many of these obscenely wealthy people have given millions, and in some cases billions, to “good causes”. Surely this makes up, at least to some extent, for worsening global wealth inequality? In my last entry I made the point that the ultra-wealthy are, as a group, highly competitive: even to the extent of, in some cases, competing regarding how much of their wealth they give away!
My last post dealt with the richest man in the World, and the fact that to qualify as being ultra-rich one would “only” need a net worth of $30 million: a tiny fraction of Jeff Bezos’ $200 billion fortune. We live in a World where millions of people still live in extreme poverty, without access to the very basics of existence. In the UK, one of the wealthiest countries on Earth, an increasing number of families rely on food banks. Even those who have work in this country often have no savings and, as the current pandemic has shown, are one pay cheque away from financial disaster. At the other end of the scale, globally there is an increasing number of millionaires, billionaires, and indeed centibillionaires! What must it be like to go through life never having to worry about how to put food on the table, how the bills are going to be paid, and how you are going to set aside enough money for your retirement (if you live that long)?
“Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty what is the matter with the rich is Uselessness.”
I apologise for not writing for a while, but I was away for a short break and it is sometimes difficult to “get back in the saddle” as far as writing is concerned! Before I left, I spotted an article on Forbes.com which stated that Jeff Bezos, the World’s richest man, was now richer than ever. He had, in fact, “crossed a milestone previously unseen in the nearly four decades Forbes has been tracking net worths” by becoming the World’s first ever person to have a net worth of over $200 billion!
I first wrote a blog post about schadenfreude on 31 May 2007 (see “Die reinste freude ist die schadenfreude”). As I stated then, a good translation of the German word is “the malicious glee experienced as a result of someone else’s misfortune”. I made the point that it was, at that time, by far the most popular word listed on Wordie (a fabulous website devoted to words and language which, sadly, no longer exists), and that it forms the basis of much of what we think of as humour. I also expressed the opinion that schadenfreude is one of the main reasons that people still buy our doom laden newspapers.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an unprecedented global search for treatments and vaccines. As stated in my previous post, antibodies have attractions as potential antiviral treatments, and trials are already underway using convalescent plasma from patients who have recovered from infection with SARS-CoV-2. I have already mentioned the limitations of this approach, however, and the advantages of using highly specific monoclonal antibodies instead.
The fact that viruses reproduce using the host cells’ metabolic processes makes it more difficult to design drugs to target them after they have entered the cells. There is always the possibility that any drug developed might damage the host as well. It is far better to prevent the virus entering the cells using a chemical entity specifically targeted at the virus in question: this is where antibodies come in.
I recently came across an article on npr.org entitled “Your Doomscrolling Breeds Anxiety. Here’s How To Stop The Cycle.” It refers to the habit that many of us have on social media where we flit on our phones from one depressing news story to another, almost compulsively. It makes the point that the COVID Pandemic has produced a virtually endless supply of bad news stories, and that lockdown has given many of us even more time to doomscroll. When done before bedtime, it is probably a significant contributor to the recent increase in insomnia.