There are, apparently, two Earths currently circling the Sun.
On one Earth, there is a killer epidemic on the loose cutting a swathe of carnage across the entire planet. It is a highly infectious, invisible creeping menace that is slaughtering millions and, lurking in supermarkets and public place or hiding in your child’s hair and so forth, can pounce the moment you stop being afraid or sanitising your door knobs every five minutes. The environment is seething with it and it can strike anyone down at any time without warning, especially the very moment they ignore government advice. Families are decimated. Ten percent of the population or possibly more have died. Hospitals are overloaded; casualty departments are consumed by an unrelenting mayhem where exhausted staff heroically fight a losing battle against the remorseless tide of viral slaughter; bodies are stacking up at undertakers. Across the stricken planet there is a great wailing and gnashing of teeth as mankind faces extinction – or would but for the wisdom of governments who have saved the day by mandating cunning and tremendously successful responses such as lockdowns, hiding, throwing money at the pharmaceutical industry and wearing masks. Thus a frightened and cowering but nevertheless lucky populace wait out the apocalypse justifiably confident that their politicians can be completely trusted to know exactly the right thing to do. Plans have already been laid for rebuilding civilisation when a handful of survivors emerge blinking from their hidey holes into the bright new dawn of a pharmaceutical Golden Age in which everyone will always be completely safe and life can be lived without any risk whatever as long as you don’t expect to enjoy it .
This is the incredibly dangerous world inhabited by millions of people who LISTEN to what they are told and who believe what they read in newspapers and trust their political elite to never ever tell fibs.
Then there is the second, alternative Earth.
On this Earth, there is some sort of flu going around that is caught by about one person in five although the majority apparently exhibit no symptoms and don’t even know they have had it unless tested for it by tests that give quite a lot of false postives in any case. Of these, one in about 400 die of or with it (no one is entirely sure which) but only if they are really really old and/or already have a serious illness. Hardly anyone directly knows anyone who has died if this bug and hardly anyone has had it, although some think they might have had it but on the other hand it could have been a cold or something similar. Many of its alleged symptoms are symptoms of other bugs so no-one can be too sure. As epidemics go it is, all things considered, a very strange one. From its outset, the hospitals have been quieter than ever and so have the casualty departments. There are no ambulances dashing about rushing the stricken to overloaded COVID wards and no bodies stacking up at undertakers. The air is not full of the wailing of the bereaved. Very few people except those in the aforementioned vulnerable categories are at serious risk from this bug and the young and reasonably healthy are at virtually no risk whatsoever.
This is the fairly tolerable planet inhabited by people who actually LOOK at the world around them rather than wait for a newspaper or slightly dim but immensely self important politician to tell them what reality is.
Which one do you live on?