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Covid-19: the semantic con

Is Covid-19 the worst or onw of the worst pandemics in history? Before we start our analysis let’s make things clear from the beginning. Here we don’t aim at denying the existance of Covid-19. We are, instead, discussing the perception of the virus, that could be a better way to put it into words. It is a necessary clarification as nowadays the public seems to be getting more and more susceptible to misleading news that could undermine our very purpose, the free expression of opinions.

The media: do they want fear?

In the last months many news channels or web pages have been floded with the notion that this pandemic is the worst of history or at least one of them. Don’t beieve it? Just google “covid worst pandemic in history” and see for yourself, and by the way it isn’t. Once again, not in denial, I take this pandemic seriously, yet I think the propaganda of panic is fooling people.

Covid-19: the semantic con


Leaving aside the medical aspects of this virus, I encourage you to focus on the role of the media. Apparently there is a cutting-edge tendency to make people have some “oh-shit moments”, sorry but euphemisms sometimes are not enough

To this day, about 2,3 million people have sadly died from Covid-19, mostly old people, over about 106 million infected people, therefore the mortality rate of this virus is slightly under 2%. This number alone would be enough to scale back the panic some titles lead to.

You gotta read history, sometimes…

If you think I am exaggerating you might want to check some data. The Spanish flu, whose first notifications came from Madrid in the spring of 1918, hence the name Spanish flu, killed over 50 million people in one year. Worst part of it? It would aim at children just as much as old individuals.

Covid-19: the semantic con
Los Angeles facing the Spanish flu

Another famous case is that of the bubonic plague from 1350. It probably originated in Asia and arrived at Europe’s doorsteps through caravans and ships in Sicily and killed about a third of the world’s population.

So as we see, history is full of tragic and fatal encounters between mankind and diseases.
Another example is the massive cut-off of the indigenous populations of America when europeans discovered the new continent. The conquistadores brought to America diseases like smallpox and measles which recuded the native population of about 90%. It was such a massive population cut-off that it is estimated to have changed the carbon footprint of Earth.

Optimism: a must-take approach


We have seen how deadly past pandemics have been, much more than Covid-19. So I wonder why is the communication agenda around this subject aiming at making this bigger or more terrifying than it needs to be, at least historically speaking. Who knows, but for once let’s focus on facts and not panic propaganda, God only knows how much we need some positivity these days.

Thank you for your interest.

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