” Here is a rather interesting little paper, only a pre-print I’m afraid, but quite well put together. “
It is not a little paper, it is actually quite complicated in many ways. Have you read all the paper and reached your own conclusions? A personally found it difficult to do so. Of course it makes the point that there is currently more tolerance to harmful by-products due to measures to combat Covid-19 than those unrelated to Covid-19, and that this amounts to moralization of the issue:
“As such, the harmful by-products inherent in combating C19’s health effects would be accepted as more tolerable than identical harm resulting from efforts unrelated to C19’s health effects. Predictions were overwhelmingly supported.”
But this is the current problem with this pandemic. From the outset, public health experts and the WHO knew that this was serious and that there was a real risk of a pandemic. It is a fact that is not really for debate for many reasons we can discuss if needed, but there are still some who question this basic fact. Secondly there have been long-agreed protocols for dealing with pandemics and the aim is early containment with stringent measures and some countries managed to do so. In certain countries in the West, it was seen that these methods are outdated because individualism trumps the common good. Our country had not reviewed the plans to deal with epidemics, was totally unprepared for one, despite the threatened pandemics of 2003 and 2012 which luckily did not spread, but many experts would say that it is a question of when, not if, the next pandemic will occur, given the interconnectivity of countries.
To return to the topic of morality and beliefs, in a situation with many unknowns, it is common to revert to tried and tested measures, and it is also understandable that those who are most at risk will be more fearful of the consequences of the disease to themselves and all of those around them. This is specially the case when there are so many unknowns about the virus, and we keep discovering more about these dangers, such as the recent quickly spreading variant, long covid, and increasingly severe disease in younger age groups. It is not uncommon for people who face an uncertain future to have strong beliefs and to see that those who are thwarting their possible changes of survival in moral terms, and this is exactly what this paper concludes. Why do we not haver papers in scientific journals to investigate why there is a rise in evangelical tele-preachers? It is a sort of related phenomenon. Proving it does not move us forward. Also when you look the supposed groups studied in the paper then there is a group with perceived direct threat which would be difficult to define in the general population, because they could be the elderly, with comorbidities, obese, people with underlying conditions, and so on, and then also those closely related to them or those who have had direct experience of the disease. These will still constitute a minority of the population whether it is 10% or 30%. However those who suffer most from lockdown are 100% of the population and therefore in any analysis we have unequal groups to compare. Moreover when we look at recruitment in the study in this paper, one of the studies relies on recruitment through social media, and these are generally people with strong and polarised group.
My own feelings is that the pandemic has been politicised from the outset, with too much decisions left to governments to carry out measures in keeping with a political agenda. It has been divisive with polarisation of views. Tough measures taken from the outset could have possible stopped or slowed the pandemic, but needed worldwide bipartisan agreement. But it is too late now to have prolonged lockdowns, that train has long left the station. There are sadly no easy alternatives until hopefully vaccination will help to contain the spread of the virus.