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COVID: the perfect disease for our time

October 6, 2020

One of the interesting (if that’s the right word) things about COVID is that it’s becoming a catch-all for rampant hypochondria. Not a day goes past when some expert suggests that the “official list” of symptoms be expanded to include yet another worrisome affliction.

The latest appears to be COVID Toe, in which your extremities go a fetching shade of blue. Add that to inexplicable rashes, taste’n’smell and all the other better-known symptoms, and we seem to be reaching the point where any abnormal condition, within or without the body, leads us instantly to wonder if we have the virus.

No doubt we’ll soon be informed that loss of libido, and more specifically, erectile dysfunction, has joined the list. Though I suspect that erotica will be far from the thoughts of anyone suffering from any of the other gruesome symptoms.

And from that we shall probably progress to pustulating buboes, and possibly, in a grand finale, to the spectacular condition that caused the Roman emperor Galerius to explode in a seething mass of foul-smelling gangrenous flesh. Don’t ask for more on this – just search on “Galerius’s death” for more details.

It’s almost as if the virus has acquired a Trumpian narcissism in its efforts to call attention to itself. Not content with screwing up our breathing, fogging our brains and leaving those of us who survive reduced to exhausted husks, it feels as though it’s constantly searching for new ways to make its presence felt. It’s all about it, it seems.

Apart from leaving us all convinced we’ve been infected, and reaching for every medication under the sun, the virus provides one additional benefit to the pharmaceutical industry. You’ve probably scrutinised one of those sheets of paper (as above) that come with most medicines. You know the ones. They list all the possible side effects of the drug you’re about to take: epilepsy, necrotising fasciitis, lethargy and pink spots on unlikely parts of your body.

Well, for the foreseeable future, all that the manufacturers will need to include will be a simple sentence: “symptoms resembling COVID-19.” That should cover most eventualities, including death.

One of the nastiest things about COVID is that it’s such a malignantly exhibitionist disease that it puts all the quiet and far more deadly conditions into the shade. Which explains why treatments for cancer and heart disease, in the UK at least, have taken a back seat, with potentially disastrous consequences, since the pandemic began. In that sense, it’s a perfect disease for our time, since this is the age when we celebrate disruptors, though usually in the form of technologies that make a few people very rich and leave the rest of us reflecting on what we’ve had to sacrifice for the privilege of being disrupted.

In fact, you could possibly make the case that COVID, in its relentless efforts to corner the market in all the symptoms known to humanity, deserves to be thought of as the of disease.

No doubt it won’t be long before the conspiracy theorists start putting it about that the evil bastards who they claim conjured this thing up in a laboratory were inspired by Jeff Bezos. Or possibly, given the current fashion in certain quarters of blaming China for everything bad in the world, by Bezos’s Chinese equivalent, Jack Ma, the Alibaba supremo.

And equally, it won’t be too long before we can add paranoia to the ever-expanding symptom list.

From → Business, Social, UK, USA

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