We in the rich nations have shut down the economy in order to avoid the deaths stemming from the coronavirus. This may or may not have been a good idea. But it is also true that we actually have economies that it is possible to close down and also that the death toll from Covid-19 is something appreciable, something more than just background noise to our society.
This is not true of everywhere in the world and it hasn’t been true for most of human history. As an example, Ethiopia. The place is currently distinctly richer than most of humanity has been for most of history. In fact, up until about 1750, this would have been considered unparalleled wealth. There was no large society that lived at this level or any sustained period of time in fact. That’s just what history was, poverty deep and grim.
And yet in Ethiopia, the coronavirus toll:
May 14: 272 cases, record for one-day testing
Total confirmed cases = 272 (new cases = 9)
Total recoveries = 108
Total deaths = 5
Active cases = 157
Tests over 24-hours = 3,580
Total tests so far = 45,278
OK, not good, or in fact great in comparison to most of Europe so far but still. This isn’t something we’d actively desire. However, at this very same time also in Ethiopia:
Cholera outbreak killed 11 people in Southern parts of Ethiopia, South Omo area, Dasenech district.
So far over 931 cholera cases and 11 deaths are reported in Dasenech area, according to the state broadcaster – ETV.
Yep, one of the old killers, another infectious disease, is still more important in that country than the new pandemic. In fact, the pandemic of coronavirus is really only a slight variation in that background level of deaths from those old killers, the plagues of mankind down the ages. For it really is true, cholera is killing more in Ethiopia than Covid-19.
Perhaps we should stop whining quite so much, eh?