COVID-19 & Trust Exercises

When is it right to believe the professionals, and when is it right to be skeptical? Can we do both? 

The COVID-19 crisis is a prime example of this conundrum. 

The COVID-19 virus swept the world away starting in March of 2020 as it spread across the globe, with its origins suspected in Wuhan, China. More recently, evidence is coming to light showing that COVID-19 may not have started there at all. China has been resistant to report accurate COVID-19 infection numbers, deaths, and even allowing the World Health Organization (WHO) authorities into its borders to do a thorough investigation. Finally, after over a year from its initial discovery and identification, WHO Authorities are being let into the country to investigate, a task easier said than done. [1] 

This investigation will determine where the virus started to spread and who patient zero is (or was). The international scientific team expects to find sources from before the Wuhan cases located in many different provinces of China and even countries of the world. The tracing of a disease is not as easy when the disease itself can manifest in so many ways that are similar and dissimilar to other known respiratory illnesses.  

China continues to insist they are not the source of the virus. China’s state-run media is pursuing foreign actors as the culprits. The WHO hopes this investigation will help ease the concerns of the world, China included. Finding the initial start of disease in humans can help determine new or more efficient ways to vaccinate or combat it. It can also alert us to other potential and more dangerous threats that could transmit in the same form or fashion from another similar source. 

Even with this investigation, there are many questions surrounding the validity of COVID-19 research on the vaccine and the “deadliness” of the respiratory illness. News sources worldwide still struggle to promote the effectiveness of masks, and people all over social media and the world reject the existence of the very disease itself. After all this time, many will still find it hard to believe any results that come out of this investigation in China by the WHO. 

Regardless of the investigation’s results, it is essential to understand that one can believe in this disease but be incredulous of the measures being taken by state and local governments to prevent the spread. Science is an ever-changing phenomenon that results in significant discoveries and the removal of old and well studied thought. It is this very process that makes science a discipline of change and skepticism. It’s important to understand that this change does not make science invalid or free from bias. These two issues seem to receive more attention than the discoveries themselves. 

Across the country, COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed, and their effectiveness is determined by the efficiency of doses received and the number of people that receive them. Masks are still worn, and the ever overused term “social-distance” is becoming more ingrained in each of us. Regardless of your view on the mask, the disease, or the total death and infection statistics, remember this:

The investigation into China may reveal what happened, or it may not. Any discoveries made do not discredit everything known; it only adds to the growing literature and understanding of this virus. On a personal note, when I moved back to Utah, I had to get a new doctor to have yearly surgeries and treatments  (with multiple avenues every time I go). This new doctor suggested something I was unfamiliar with and skeptical towards. I research alternatives, ask my doctor questions, and find the best options every time. I did not have the same kind of trust with this doctor, but I still trusted their judgment more than my own after this research. Why? Because I am not an expert.While I was thorough in my research and made an informed decision on what to do, the mechanics and the details are not my expertise. Applying this to the pandemic follows a similar suit. We should make informed decisions and look into the best options, but at the end of the day, we are not epidemiologists, virologists, medical professionals, or microbiologists.   



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Zeke Peters

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