Branding reaches the luxury real estate sector.
It was the month of October 2014 and inside an ambulance an auxiliary nurse was infected with a 21st century virus called Ebola. In this digital era, information spreads like wildfire, especially when it is bad news. It has been months since Ebola started killing again in Africa, which, although close to Europe, is far away.
In old Europe, viruses were a thing of the past. They were a thing of the past. The everyday situations in Africa, where the colonizers of the Earth came from more than 40,000 years ago, are worse than Ebola. But unexpectedly, Ebola, without asking permission, arrived in Europe generating a state of generalized paranoia.
The word protocol crept into the media headlines and suddenly in the same media we saw, read and heard more virology experts than citizens. The shock wave of fear swept over everything. Health was back on the front pages. The reproaches multiplied, blaming left and right covered rivers of ink and gigas. Information, or rather the lack of it, or disinformation was the news.
This also affected tourism and business, in a conjunctural but forceful way. Iberia’s value on the Ibex fell by the equivalent of 600,000,000 euros in a single day. All because of a virus, a small, microscopic virus that altered the nerves of the population. Hysteria began, like a powerful virus, to spread.
Surely many will have looked for some relationship between the welfare state and realism. If, in addition to obtaining vaccines or adequate remedies to kill Ebola, old Europe interprets that investing in Africa could not only prevent future Ebola outbreaks but, above all, contribute to giving hope for the future to the least developed continent on the planet, from which it all originated.
To understand this last point, the Ebola virus was first identified 42 years ago during an epidemic with a high mortality rate. So high that in 1976 around 92 percent of those infected died. That is no more than 4 decades ago. This statistic speaks for itself. In the end, paranoia is the result of inefficiency and ineffectiveness magnified by the media and digital tools that seek traffic, clicks and data above all else.
In 2020, Ebola forgotten, the focus and attention will be on COVID-19, popularly known as coronavirus. A very aggressive kind of flu because it is new to our antibody system. Until recently, Europe was watching from a distance the development in China, and then in nearby Southeast Asia. But alarm bells went off in Italy and later in Spain. One infected, two, three, more than twenty. Like a basketball game counter, the media updated the number of infected people by the minute. While asking the population for calm, they pour liters of gasoline on the fire of fear.
The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, explained yesterday that the most common symptoms of Covid-19 are fever and dry cough. According to his studies, 90% of the affected people studied had episodes of fever and 70% had dry cough. “It’s not usually a runny nose,” he noted. The WHO director insisted on the importance of the population being fully aware of the symptoms and informed on how to act correctly to help prevent the spread of the virus. “This is not a time for fear. This is a time to take action to prevent infection and save lives now. Fear and panic are not helpful. People may have concerns and rightly so. People may be worried, and rightly so. The most important thing is to calm down and do the right things to fight this very dangerous virus.”
Let’s hope something is learned this time. Instead of spreading paranoia, may we spread responsibility, social awareness, development aid and, above all, seriousness and rigor in reporting and communicating. Hope is also contagious.
The inhabitants of Guinea-Conakry, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria have suffered, and many continue to suffer from the devastating passage of Ebola. That night in October 2014, the televisions repeated over and over again the images of the blue and yellow ambulance sirens and their police cars that ploughed through the deserted streets of Madrid. Fear sells.
Don’t worry more than necessary about the coronavirus, it is very similar to the flu. Most people survive (COVID-19) and, yes, it is true that we don’t have a vaccine for it, but there are many people who get the flu and don’t get the vaccine. If everyone got the flu vaccine, it would eventually go away. Ten or even 100 times as many people get infected with the flu. When something is unknown, there is fear of contagion, there is a level of anxiety … It captures the mind in a different way.
You will tell me, but how not to worry if the Venice Carnival was canceled, games are being played behind closed doors, it is recommended not to travel to such and such a place. At the same time, the IOC has announced that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will not be cancelled. Life goes on. In Sierra Leone, one of the countries hardest hit by Ebola, there is a saying that goes something like this: “If you are in the middle of the ocean, swim”.
Data puts the human being in the background. The data speak silently, but few listen.
250 babies are born every minute worldwide, some 130,000,000 people per year.
Some 2,300,000 books will have been published this year.
More than 130,000,000 books have been published in all of modern history.
More than 2 billion people do not have access to a clean toilet.
780 million people lack access to clean drinking water.
More than 7,000 people have already died from the Ebola virus.
In the last 15 years we have gone from 910 million internet users to 4.4 billion. From 13% of the world’s population to more than 57%. The first billion were reached in 2005. Two billion in 2010. The three billion in 2014.
Every day, every day, some 25,000 people die of hunger. Simultaneously, more than $550,000,000,000 is spent per day on obesity and weight loss programs.
Diarrheal diseases are the second leading cause of death in children under five, killing 760,000 children each year. There are 1.7 billion cases of diarrheal disease each year.
There are about 35 years until the oil runs out, 59,600 days until the gas runs out and 150,800 days until the coal runs out.
I am left with this sentence from the WHO Director General: “COVID-19 is a shared threat. We can only face it together, and we can only overcome it together.”
We have much to do beyond the fight against COVID-19. There remains unfinished business that does not take up even 1 percent of the time devoted to this virus: illiteracy, the fight against hunger and malnutrition, violence against women, child slaves, poverty, the climate emergency, and so many issues of paramount importance. May a tiny virus, invisible to the human eye, not distract us from what is important.
Unlike that year, we can still make facts speak louder than numbers in 2020. Let the cries be heard and transformed into actions. May silences cease to be silences. May the world be much more than just data.