With the cold season approaching in the northern hemisphere, it is becoming increasingly – and worryingly – clear that a winter of disease, and discontent, looms. Reports show the dismal level of Covid-19 cases in the United States. Some hospitals are apparently running short of medical supplies even as demand for testing rises, partly because even common flu symptoms are making people nervous. Europe is fully into a second wave, and India is the second country where infections have now topped seven million cases. British cases are doubling every week. Countries like Germany that appeared to handle the initial outbreak effectively have now been forced to take countermeasures to tackle the disease.
Not surprisingly, some of the worst affected countries are those where political leaders were dismissive of science, notably the US and Brazil, the latter where President Jair Bolsonaro initially likened Covid-19 to the flu and said it should be faced “like a man, not a boy”. Brazil’s Covid-19 count has topped five million, with some 150,000 deaths. The man he admires, US President Donald Trump, has likewise adopted a dismissive attitude that has spread among many Americans. Both leaders were infected. Mr Trump has just returned to the White House after treatment at a military facility not accessible to most Americans.