I OFTEN wonder whether we, the human race, have on average advanced at all from the pre-scientific days of witch trials, exorcisms, the evil eye and miasmata.

Alongside a solid scientific consensus on the Covid-19 crisis there are widespread contrary theories ranging from complete denial of the pandemic to a bizarre belief that wearing a mask is more dangerous than catching the virus, and somewhere in the middle there are “corona parties” where the attenders deliberately attempt to become infected, and the current fashion for house parties with an attitude of “we don’t care”.

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I am reminded of an Edgar Allen Poe tale called The Masque of the Red Death. The party-goers notice an unknown red-masked figure walking among them. Every so often the revelry is hushed as a clock chimes ominously. Eventually realisation dawns as one by one the guests begin to succumb to the infection.

Derek Ball