Science created Covid-19. Or at least scientists did. The evidence is conclusive, being laid out in Failures Of State published in April 2021 by investigative journalists Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott. In short, the virus was first detected about ten years ago in caves in south China after it had killed several miners. Scientists from Wuhan collected samples of the virus from bat guano in the caves. They returned to their lab where, after an initial investigation, they froze the virus until 2019 when they revived it and began experimenting on it, ostensibly to develop a vaccine effective against SARS-CoV2 viruses. They undoubtedly altered the virus at this point, adding the element that has been recognised as being engineered. They also allowed it to escape. This was probably not intentional; pathogens regularly escape from laboratories all around the world. We now know this is the most likely scenario for the origin of Covid-19.
Science propelled us into lockdowns and restrictions. Strictly speaking, the worst case predictions of scientific modellers propelled the world’s politicians into panic mode and, in consequence, populations into lockdowns. Whether data analysis, number crunching and computer projections can be properly defined as science is a moot point, but those involved in this work regard it as such, as do the politicians who act on modellers’ advice. They have been wrong more than they have been right.
Science is helping us out of the pandemic. The vaccine has reduced the number of cases of Covid and its variants. It is not as effective as was originally predicted, three inoculations providing only about five months’ protection. We can only hope that this is sufficient to get us though the next few weeks by which time it may be that the virus will have run its course. We know from previous pandemics that they last about two to three years, after which they become endemic (though naturally scientists are arguing about the meaning of this term). In other words, we will to have to learn to live with a (hopefully) weakened virus.
We must also be more cautious about science and scientists. Science is a tool that humans use to understand the world. It is a good tool, but it is only as reliable as those who use it; scientists who, like all other humans, make mistakes (lab leaks), have biases (towards worst case scenarios) and agendas (predictions of doom, profit, panaceas.) Science sits uneasily on a pedestal.
It is also worth bearing in mind that, on occasion, it is the scientist who is the Tool.
Sure is. We could both name a few tools who’ve been allowed to dictate the terms of our lives this past couple of years.
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