A country ruined by its political class

Published in Expansión

Many years ago, the health minister of an African country argued that garlic and lemon intake was effective in fighting AIDS[1]. With similar scientific rigor, almost all Spanish regional governments now demand the use of masks outdoors even if you are completely alone in the street or in the middle of nowhere. The gold medal in this competition of foolishness (that knows no party boundaries) probably belongs to Galicia and Andalusia, which force you to wear a mask even on the beach, an occurrence proposed by the politician du jour to the “experts” and not the other way around, which is very revealing. Naturally, this scares off tourism (which cancels its reservations and goes to Portugal, Greece or Italy), both because of its unhealthy discomfort and out of fear, since it suggests a very serious situation that does not correspond to the Spanish epidemiological reality. Look at the ridiculous Andalusian case: with a population of 8.5 million people, as I write these lines there are only 37 hospitalized, 7 in ICU and no deaths from Covid for 10 days. The absolutely grotesque and abusive nature of such impositions seems so obvious to me that require few comments. With few regional exceptions (such as Madrid), Spain is being transformed into an Orwellian dictatorship of the absurd in which its political class, more concerned with its own interests than with the welfare of the citizen, imposes heavy burdens on him for no purpose whatsoever other than to cover its own back.

In reality, this sudden, unscientific and oppressive regional hysteria that forces citizens to wear masks (paid for by them) outdoors when no one is around is a farce that no country in Europe follows [2]: France will force people to wear masks only in enclosed public places from August, as Germany, Italy and others do. In England it is only compulsory in transport, supermarkets and shops, and the Nordic countries only recommend their use indoors[3]. South Korea, a model in the fight against the coronavirus, only requires the use of masks from June onwards in public transport. Why? As I detailed in a previous article (see Fear as an instrument of power [4], EXPANSION June 2, 2020), several studies conclude that coronavirus infections occur almost entirely in indoor spaces, especially those that are crowded and poorly ventilated, mainly homes (for example, during the lockdown), hospitals, nursing homes and public transportation. The air is a constantly moving fluid which makes outdoor contagion difficult and where the huge volume of air per individual also dissipates any potential concentration of viral load. In addition, several studies suggest that the virus is sensitive to temperature increases and UV sun radiation, which according to a group of Italian virologists and astrophysicists disables SARS-CoV-2 at 99% in a matter of seconds[5] (the US Homeland Security concludes something similar[6]).

On the other hand, there is no consensus or clear scientific evidence on the actual effectiveness of the widespread use of masks [7]. In Wuhan (as in other Chinese cities) the frequent use of masks due to air pollution did not prevent it from becoming the epicenter of the pandemic, and during the lockdown in Spain, the harshest and most dictatorial in the world, the number of deaths multiplied by more than 100 despite the fact that the streets were absolutely deserted because, I repeat, under normal circumstances contagion occurs in crowded and poorly ventilated interiors, not out in the street. Moreover, when in April the government opened up the strict lockdown and “allowed” walks in narrow time intervals, the sidewalks were absolutely crowded with people without masks for almost two months and there was no upsurge at all.

Additionally, some research warns of the potentially counterproductive effects of widespread mask use from an epidemiological standpoint: among other things, it gives a false sense of security and can worsen the condition of those who are infected by increasing their viral load [8]. Finally, masks have a lifespan of only a few hours and then, with intermittent reutilization, they become unusable and potentially harmful: what people end up putting in their nose and mouth is a dirty rag full of dust and germs. By omitting these points and conveying to the public that there is a risk outdoors and that the mask (whatever!) guarantees not to catch Covid-19, the Spanish political class is deceiving with another false belief (the first was that the lockdown was successful) and contributing to the maintenance of the unhealthy state of collective paranoia (unique in the world) existing in Spain and created by the sensationalist hammering of the media. In the words of the sensible Head of Infectious Diseases of the Vall d’ Hebron Hospital, “the possibility of transmission of the virus in the street is very limited and there is nothing that justifies 40 million people going around the streets wearing masks”[9]. He adds, “the current outbreaks have little to do with the use of masks, and even with the use of masks there will still be outbreaks, because the virus is there”[10].

These arbitrary measures have very dangerous socio-political and economic connotations. Firstly, they turn Spain into an oppressive regulatory dictatorship at the whim of the politician, who exempts himself from all responsibility in his negligent management of the epidemic by shifting the focus of attention (and the burden of responsibility) to the citizen. The Spaniard’s well known low self-esteem does the rest, and many with Stockholm syndrome blame themselves saying that “if we were more responsible there would be no need for this”. Secondly, they show that in Spain there is no real individual freedom nor inalienable rights, because the rule of law is constantly violated by the political class with total impunity (there are even regional governments that threat to do an unlawful lockdown). Nor is there a free civil society that defends itself from these abuses, but rather a population generally subdued by fear. Thirdly, without providing any health benefits worth mentioning, these measures, which no other European country takes because they are absurd, make life impossible and contribute to the national mental and economic depression, plunging us into the unfathomable abyss of a crisis created by our political class, not by the virus.

We need serious and calm leadership in the face of the inevitable ups and downs of this harsh epidemic instead of panicking and running in stampede over and over again. The lethality of the coronavirus has plummeted across Europe, so an increase in the number of infections is not a significant measure of the seriousness of the situation, as hospitalizations of gravely ill people would be – but that’s not the case so far at all. The first way to fight SARS-CoV-2 is with our own immune system, which is strengthened by walking in the sunlight on the beach, in the countryside or in the mountains, enjoying and breathing normally and not through a dirty cloth. It is also fought with hospital resources, tracking, promising treatments and logical, scientific and non-indiscriminate public health measures (focused on the population at risk and local foci). In other words, with rigor and not with eccentric occurrences taken out of the hat by politicians who only act guided by populism and herd behavior and who don’t care about the hardships caused to their “subjects”. The people who justify the chains will soon end up enslaved. After the whimsical imposition of the muzzle, why not the collar, the strap and the locator chip? And if you think that these measures will not finish off the battered Spanish economy, you are very much mistaken. The tyranny of the open-air mask, a unique case in Europe, is a symbol: it does not prevent outbreaks, but heralds the death of logic, the loss of freedom and the arrival of an unprecedented economic crisis.

 

Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo

www.fpcs.es

 

 

 

[1] https://globalhealth.duke.edu/news/south-africas-health-ministers-misguided-belief

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-europe-mask-wearing-is-the-norm-but-for-how-long-11594921596 y https://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/monde/belgique-italie-saint-ouen-ces-endroits-ou-le-port-du-masque-est-obligatoire_2130771.html

[3] https://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2020/07/14/port-du-masque-ou-est-il-obligatoire_6046136_3244.html

[4] https://www.fpcs.es/en/fear-as-an-instrument-of-power/

[5] https://www.web24.news/u/2020/06/the-suns-rays-inactivate-sars-cov-2.html

[6] https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/sars-airborne-calculator

[7] https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/commentary-masks-all-covid-19-not-based-sound-data y https://vixra.org/pdf/2006.0044v1.pdf

[8] https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/369/bmj.m2003.full.pdf

[9] https://www.antena3.com/noticias/salud/el-doctor-benito-almirante-no-hay-nada-que-justifique-que-mas-de-40-millones-de-personas-lleven-mascarilla-por-el-coronavirus_202005205ec58abc12cd420001a625f9.html

[10] https://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20200708/482192332450/infectologo-de-vall-dhebron-cuestiona-el-uso-de-mascarillas-al-aire-libre.html

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