There are a few questions in life that have non-equivocal answers:
- No, you shouldn’t give that person on the phone your bank account number
- No, you shouldn’t drink bleach or any other household disinfectant
- No, you shouldn’t try to get infected with COVID-19 in order to travel again
What leads me to write this post was reading Matthew on Live and Let’s Fly write that he would willingly get infected, and the risks thereof, just so he could travel again without restrictions.
I tend to give writers the benefit of the doubt, Not everyone has the same opinion on things and I usually think that’s good. Differences of opinion are needed to keep the blogging community on its toes. If we all agreed about everything, that wouldn’t be any fun for anyone.
But the subject of his post and the hypotheticals Matthew present are just plain wrong.
I sat there reading and just shaking my head. I couldn’t see how what he was saying made any sense. Not only that, but it was also plain scary to hear someone say it.
I’m not about to inject myself with bleach, but if I had to risk a 1-2% chance of dying in exchange for traveling around the world, I’d take the risk. My wife is onboard with it too. Life is full of inherent risks. Every choice in life is a cost-benefit analysis. The key, of course, is to make informed choices. Thoughtful choices. Discerning choices.
You’d be willing to take a 2% chance of dying from pneumonia, heart attack, stroke or any of the other ways COVID-19 kills people just for the ability to travel again. Saying your wife is on board makes it no better.
Back to his basis for this decision. If countries are going to require proof of immunity, he wants to get that ASAP! He even goes into how he thinks the process will go.
I’d retreat to a hotel, inject myself with the virus (not that it can be injected, again, we are just having a theoretical discussion), and let it take its effect. For three weeks I’d remain quarantined…longer if necessary. I’m not talking about a vaccine, I’m talking about the full-on virus. And I know the result would not necessarily be binary: I could end up with lasting lung damage or other permanent handicaps.
Where to start. People are staying at home except for essentials. The global economy is in a recession or maybe even a depression to help protect people from catching COVID-19. Why? Because we know very little about this virus. We have no vaccine. We don’t even have any proven treatments for the multiple problems it causes once you’re infected. Some people who lived through coronavirus came out of it with lung or heart damage; will these be lifelong physical problems? Could the damage potentially shorten your life down the line? Doctors are learning on the fly and doing their best but not even knowing if they’re hurting or helping patients.
We don’t even know who’s spreading the disease. How infectious are you if you’re asymptomatic? How long after you’re exposed are you contagious? Does being exposed make you immune?
And that’s why we’re not traveling. It’s why countries have shut down their borders. If they make a plan to open before any cure, vaccine, or even a treatment plan is developed, allowing people who are immune because of past exposure seems to be a safe bet. As Matthew says, we don’t even know if this matters but it’s the best we have right now. So why not be a first adopter?
COVID-19 is a killer. It’s going to be just as deadly now as it will be in 6 months, a year or a decade. At first we were staying home to #flattenthecurve so hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed. But we’re also staying home because the longer you wait until you get infected, the more likely doctors will have refined treatments or maybe even invented new devices to support patients while they fight off the virus. Medications will be tested. Most will not help, but some will. Eventually, we’ll get what everyone’s waiting for, a vaccine.
That’s when people will feel safe traveling again. Countries will open their borders again. Things will get back to some sense of a new normal. Enough people will be protected that we’ll get to herd immunity, but statistics say about 70% of the population has to be immune before that helps.
The average time people are talking about developing a vaccine is 18 months. Maybe with all the world’s scientists working on it, we can do this in record time, 12 months or less.
When you think about it in those terms, is it worth your life to be able to travel a few months sooner than everyone else?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary