13/06/2021

And the Universe, impassive

4 min
I l’Univers, impassible

Accustomed to finding the measure of the world in ourselves and our immediate surroundings, moments of pain rarely form part of a collective experience. This time will have been different, at least for those of us who had not lived through the savagery of the Civil War, but there is no guarantee that we have learned our lessons.

The pandemic had an arrival date, which we can place in the announcement of the first state of alarm, on 13 March 2020, and it will have a symbolic departure date. We do not yet know the date, but it is close, because the data tell us that of the 6.3 million people eligible for vaccination in Catalonia, 3.2 million have received a first dose and 1.8 the full course; because those admitted to the ICU are already less than 200 people and mortality has plummeted from 105 people to 13 in the last week. The ravages of the coronavirus are not over, but with each vaccination we are getting closer to the exit in our European environment.

The vaccination queues are a triumph of our society, so imperfect so often and exemplary in these orderly and silent lines of citizens from all walks of life, origins and incomes who are vaccinated in an atmosphere that is a mixture of respect, gratitude and relief. The vaccination campaign is a resounding victory for our welfare state model.

Now that the exit from this idle life we have seen for so many months is opening up, it is time to hear the story of the worst moments and to demand that political action be taken to take stock of the mistakes made when decisions made made the difference between life and death. We know that humanity is fragile in the face of pandemics and we must have learned some lessons and formulated contingency plans.

Thank you

It is also a time to say thank you: to the nursing home workers who cared for the elderly and watched helplessly as the helpless sick drowned; to the health workers who were tired of compensating with vocation for the lack of resources and the difficulty of dealing with a devastating and unknown danger. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, caregivers who gave a hand to the sick who were dying alone and who bridged the gap with families traumatized by forced abandonment. Thanks to the workers of the supermarkets and pharmacies who kept basic necessities within reach. Thanks to the pharmacists who provided us with gel and masks, to the operations managers of the companies who delivered oxygen and respirators. Thanks also to the funeral parlour workers who listened helplessly to public data that their reality more than belied. The same workers who, without protective equipment, tried to bury with dignity some bodies that had a name, a surname and a shared memory with someone who was not there. Thanks to the neighbors and volunteers who prevented a death in solitude, to the civil society that networked against extreme poverty in an economy that had stopped from one day to the next.

It is also a time to give thanks: to the nursing home workers who cared for the elderly and watched helplessly as the helpless sick drowned; to the health workers who were tired of compensating with vocation for the lack of resources and the difficulty of dealing with a devastating and unknown danger. Doctors, nurses, care staff who held hands with the sick who were dying alone and who bridged the gap with families traumatised by forced abandonment. Thanks to the workers in the supermarkets and pharmacies who kept basic necessities within reach. Thanks to the pharmacists who provided us with gel and masks, to the operations managers of the companies who delivered oxygen and respirators. Thanks also to the funeral parlour workers who listened helplessly to the public data, which their own reality more than belied. The same workers who, without protective equipment, tried to bury with dignity the bodies that had a name, a surname and a shared memory with someone who was not there. Thanks to the neighbours and volunteers who prevented some deaths in solitude, to the civil society that networked against extreme poverty in an economy that had stopped from one day to the next.

Thanks also to the photojournalists and reporters who went out to explain what was happening in the hospitals and nursing homes. To those who snuck in where they were censored and to those who were allowed in to explain that this was a pandemic with death, exhaustion, loneliness, after-effects and mental illness. Thanks to the women who have cleaned hospitals, public transport, workplaces.

Thanks to the scientists who have collaborated in a network, sharing knowledge, and to those who have provided funds for such extraordinarily fast research. Thanks to those who worked double shifts with children on their laps. To all those who understood that when things go wrong the step has to be taken forward.

Answering questions

Now that there is a truce, in Catalonia and Spain we must analyse the management of the pandemic. In the UK the 2005 inquiry law guarantees an analysis of the political action. It was done, for example, with the Iraq War, investigated between 2009 and 2016 by an independent public commission. From spring 2022 an independent commission will assess the British government's handling of the pandemic, relying on all available information, from official papers to whatsapps, and with the presence of witnesses. The questions it will have to answer are: what happened, why, who was responsible, and what can be done to prevent it from happening again?

In Catalonia and Spain, research is reduced to emergency contracting methods, but the scientists who last August in The Lancet called for an independent evaluation have not been listened to. It would be a good idea for experts to look at the role of scientific bodies in public decision-making, the trap that so many non-medicalised residences became, how and when protective equipment was provided, what side-effects there have been in the treatment of other diseases.

Now that we are gradually seeing the way out, we will be wrong if we do not ensure that we learn from this trance. The Universe remains impassive and we are very likely to continue walking, having forgotten what we have experienced, only to make the same mistakes again in the future.

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