Thursday, 9 December 2021

Pandemic Spread, Death and the Parachute Effect

A sense of security, perhaps accompanying security theatre, can result in such risk taking that despite preventative precautions, danger still stands, but without an awareness of it.


The amount of risk people take is, oddly enough, proportionate to their perception of their safety. 

People who think that they're safer will often take more risks, often without even noticing it. A very good portion of abortions in America are performed on people who were taking contraception, and seemingly taking it properly, at the time at which they got pregnant. And if you distribute condoms at schools or in a city or elsewhere to an extent that it becomes easy to get a condom - quite often STD rates go up, instead of down, oddly enough and seemingly linked to a psychological phenomena known as the parachute effect.

And the parachute's effect extends beyond the realms of public health. You might also see it in places such as American football versus rugby. In American football a player will be wearing extensive padding and people who play rugby often mock the American footballers for how much padding they wear - how much protective gear they wear - and yet American footballers often get very terrible brain injuries despite wearing the padding and you hear about that a lot less often with the sports such as rugby not to say that one or the other is safer, of course.

The fact of the matter is that human beings don't actually understand risk properly. There was ... there is a famous YouTuber known as Lindybeige whose real name is Nikolas Lloyd, who has spoken about the way in which when he's fought using very little protective gear - with his friends when they simply sparred - quite often they would hold back in a certain way and were more cautious, so as not to actually injure one another; Whereas, where they used extensive protective gear, people would use their full force against it.

One of the things which has been quite odd is that vaccines have come about for Covid-19 - which is a good thing - at the same time as vaccines have extensively been introduced - you have higher rates of infection in some parts of the world and even higher deaths in a place like America, for instance; And the question is why. 

Well, the vaccines provide something like - with the Pfizer something like - 95 percent protection against the original Covid variant, and still a very high protection against Delta, for instance, and yet if people, having taken a vaccine, then say: 

Well, I'm not necessarily going to mask any longer. I'm not going to social distance as much. I'm going to go out and meet all of my friends because I'm safe. And they perceive it as 100% safe. You're going to get a lot more cases. 

Now, the vaccines make you much less likely to need to go to hospital, much less likely to die, and they reduce case numbers quite extensively - but not by 100% - by specific percentages that they're supposed to. And to add to that, the latest research finds that quite often with vaccines such as these types of ones - which were developed - you need some sort of booster shot after, say, three months, or so, and the effect overall, again, is the parachute effect. It's saying that this specific thing is going to protect you, and therefore people take it at word, and they engage in a lot more risky behavior as a result.

The sort of risk involved can be, sometimes, quite extensive, compared with what people would otherwise engage in. And in fact one of the things which might explain the lower Covid numbers in some countries which haven't locked down more extensively, is that people, when things are left to themselves, often are more cautious, rather than when things left to them by the government telling them what to do. For instance, when speed limits were introduced, the average speed on roads increased rather than decreasing, for the simple reason that people then had a sense that they knew what the risks were, and therefore engaged in more risky behavior.

The issue with vaccines, when it comes to spread of Covid, is that - while people are under the impression that it completely protected and prevented spread - thanks to things like vaccine passports - the fact of the matter is, that it only reduces spread, and it does so by reducing the amount of time at which people are at a certain level of infectiousness. It doesn't reduce spread completely, but it does reduce it a bit. But if someone, because they have a vaccine passport and a vaccine, go about their ordinary lives taking no precautions against coronavirus, versus someone who is not vaccinated, but takes a lot of precautions, you might find that the parachute effect comes into play again. And this effect is quite important for public health and for otherwise. 

A friend of mine at a firm in the United Kingdom, whenever they go into office, every two days, they get tested with a rapid antigen test, and that's not a hundred percent either, but it's a pretty good tell whether someone has Corona virus or not - and, obviously, whether you have the vaccine or not you can still spread it, which is why you should still take precautions. But if you take a test which says that you probably don't have Corona virus - you're much less likely to actually spread it - and those sorts of mechanisms can well be quite effective at preventing spread in a way in which more was gained from it, even though those tests, again, are not 100%. 

But the parachute effect and the fact that human beings are what it is dealt with in public health are both incredibly important and countries which ignore them and ignore the facts involving them do so at their utmost peril.

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