When Covid-19 struck, the first reaction was some form of panic and extreme caution. Racial profiling broke out in China, Americans had a run on tissue paper, and Kenyans wanted the government to shut all borders and make the country an Island. A huge demand for masks kept the prices so high, and it is unbelievable that prices have fallen by up to 95% today. Then came the curfews and cessation of movements. Those seemed like they were very necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Six months later, it seems like we have majorly learnt to live with Covid-19. While the cases have not reduced to zero, and number of deaths seem to be increasing, everywhere I look I see people who have made peace with Covid-19 and opted to go down fighting, if necessary.
Schools are now open. Masks have been discarded. Public gathering have resumed full throttle. Public service vehicles are carrying full capacity. Cases of Covid-19 no longer make the news.
Several things, including caution fatigue, and a better understanding of the virus (both accurate and inaccurate understanding). People also realized that Covid-19 is not the worst threat to mankind today, and while you are hiding from corona virus, an armed mosquito might send you under with malarial bite.
I had a conversation with my dad about how the perception and response to Covid-19 has changed and he had some very insightful words. He said that there has always to be a balanced between caution and risk, especially if the threat is long term. It is not logical to spend all your life running from one form of death, while the risk from other types of deaths exist. That is why it did not make sense to have an extended lock-down at the expense of livelihoods.
How Covid-19 unfolds is still a mystery, but one thing that is certain is that we cannot have an extended lockdown again. At least not in a country where malaria, cancer, road accidents and other simple illnesses.
One projection already showed that only 7.3% of the people who contract Covid-19 would show symptoms, 0.6% would be hospitalized, 0.1% would end up in ICU and 0.066% would succumb to Covid-19.
If everybody in the country contracted Covid-19 (impossible), the total number of deaths would be about 30,000. If we assume that only 50% of the people would contract Covid-19, then you realize that the expected fatality (15,000) would be almost the same number of people who die through road accidents every year, half of those who die of cancer every year, or even a fifth of the total number of children who die of communicable diseases every year.
Better put, Covid-19 would increase the annual death rate (which should be about 300,000 people per year) in Kenya by approximately 5%. Factor in the overlapping cases where Covid-19 would be fatal to patients with preexisting conditions, and the the percentage decreases.
If we put this into perspective, you realize that while caution is needed, it is very possible to kill more people through lockdowns and other containment measures than through the virus itself. We have to take the risk, and if I am right, Magufuli had a point.
However, Covid-19 remains to be a moving target. No one knows what exactly it will end. Only hope.