We need to step away from the sense of dependence on multiple vaccines that don’t work and have actually made the problems worse. Healthcare systems are overwhelmed around the world. The problems are not caused by covid, but by our response to it. Fear is a powerful weapon that was launched irresponsibly. The consequent trauma cannot be reversed by doing nothing or continuing the faulty narrative.
Damaging revelations from UK Health Minister Matt Hancock’s 13 December 2020 private WhatsApp messaging show just how much the UK government sought to manipulate the public and their own party.
Tory MPs were against stricter lockdown measures, but Hancock messaged his media advisor Damon Poole: “We frighten the pants off everyone with the new strain [Covid Alpha]”
Poole: “Yep, that is what will get us proper behavioural change”
Hancock: “When do we deploy the new variant?”
After his television interviews in January carrying the same fear-based messaging running up to the vaccine rollout, Hancock received congratulations from a supporter that he had “come over well”and that “a well handled crisis of this scale could propel you into the next league, and break you through in terms of public perception.”
Hancock also moved to exclude dissenting voices within the group of SAGE scientists advising the government. Talking about Dr. Jeremy Farrar he said: “He needs to be either inside the tent and onside, or outside…”
Were Hancock and other leaders around the world right to press the fear button?
Remember, at the time we were seeing pictures of morgues overwhelmed in New York City. Accounts were being published of mass deaths among the elderly in many countries including Italy. We now realise that these deaths were not evenly spread. NYC had a huge surge in deaths, but nearby Boston did not, they had a rash of asymptomatic cases. Bergamo Italy had an 800% increase in excess deaths, nearby Po Valley did not.
A closer look reveals an alternative possibility – a panicked pandemic response may have been helping to drive deaths up. Foreign healthcare workers abandoned their posts in Italy, while fearful relatives – the traditional elderly carers in the Italian family system – stayed away from those stricken. The elderly are particularly vulnerable and can easily succumb to changes in their routine, especially when given an added dose of fear.
To illustrate the effect of fear, psychologist Martin Seligman performed an experiment in the 1960s which demonstrated that helplessness and resignation to fate can be learned. Seligman subjected dogs to the pain of repeated electric shocks (not something that can happen now). They were offered no escape from the repeated administration of pain. The dogs were transferred to a holding pen where there was easy access to an escape route, but when the shocks started up the dogs did not try to escape because they had been conditioned to believe they were helpless. They just lay down and whimpered. In contrast, dogs who had not been conditioned to accept pain as inevitable took the opportunity to escape when the shocks began.
Read More: Has governments’ fear-mongering left the public traumatised? Are we suffering from learned helplessness?