Episode -01

Solidarity in the Time of COVID-19 w/ Dennis [EN]

Ep. -01: Solidarity in the Time of COVID-19 w/ Dennis [EN]

In this episode we sit down to talk with Dennis about the coronavirus pandemic that has engulfed our planet in 2020.

Table of Contents

Part 0 — Introduction 2:58
Part 1 — What is this "SARS-CoV-2"? 5:56
Break 1 — Debunking some myths 37:16
Part 2 — Statistics, models and methods of prevention 43:43
Break 2 — Lorem Ipsum Sloth Dolor Amet 1:12:38
Partea 3 — Capitalism is the real virus 1:14:43
Summary — 1:54:31

Description

In this episode we speak with Dennis, a medical student and antifascist comrade, about the current SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic. In the first part of the discussion, Dennis tells us what a virus is and how it operates, about the origin and characteristics of the current culprit, about the parameters to look for in order to understand a pandemic, and how SARS-CoV-2 compares with other recent pandemics (SARS-CoV:2002-2004, MERS-CoV:2012-present). In the next section we learn about the current state of the world, about which groups are most vulnerable to the disease (COVID-19), and about the main modes of prevention. In the last part we debate the authoritarian response of governments and the role of the capitalist world-system in the production and amplification of this pandemic.

Important note: this episode was recorded on March 27th, 2020. At the moment, things are changing constantly, sometimes from one day to the next. Ongoing research and changes in the political situation may render some of the information discussed here obsolete or outdated, within weeks or months.

Transcript

[This is a rush transcript (by sloth standards). Do not hesitate to contact us if you find any typos or mistakes]

Part I

Andra: Ok. Tell us a few things about yourself. What is your background, what do you study, and how do you identify politically, if in any way. What are your main influences, like authors, books, etc.

Dennis: I identify myself as a male cis white virus with an evil plan. My evil plan is to shut down the economic system and, by that, strengthen authoritarian structures, lever out basic human rights and the constitution, drive people crazy through social isolation, and show the people that nonetheless that, no matter the magnitude of the situation, most are still bound to work. Capital is my best friend, and I help him to survive. My only enemy for that are humans themselves. So I hope that capital itself or, in other words, the personification of capital itself, capitalists, will win. Sorry for this anthropomorphising of the virus and making a bad joke out of it. I'm actually Dennis and I study medicine. I would identify as a leftists, and an antifascist. Generally, I'm politically influenced by the Frankfurt school of thought, which revolves around Adorno, Horkheimer, Benjamin, Marcuse. And also, I am politically influenced by Marx. So, politically I would identify as a Marxist. But not in the sense of that ideological and moral worldview that was propagated through history, but rather as a necessary tool to apply critique on capitalism and to be always critical of social situations, critical of ideology and so on. In addition to that, philosophically I have an internal interest in understanding our condition as humans, of our relationship to the world, to nature and history. And this I achieve through Nietzsche and Hegel, especially. So, philosophically I would identify with an analogy. When Nietzsche described the relational context of the human being in the book Thus Spoke Zarathustra – that's the heroic figure in his book –, after living an ascetic life in the mountains for years, he had that internal urge to go descend into the deep to the humans, to deliver his wisdom to the people. And, basically, confront them with their stupidity. He arrives at the market and there the people are waiting for a rope dancer to appear and to entertain them. So, Zarathustra says: "Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the superman". A rope over an abyss. So, I'm kind of that rope dance between Nietzsche and Hegel, just that I do not know who is on which side, and what the rope is made of. And within the sphere of medicine, I am interested in psychiatry and neurology, and also microbiology and pathology.

Robi: My God, I think I’m in full midlife crisis after this monologue

Lori: I still haven’t been able to read through two pages of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit so...

Dennis: You should!

Robi: So let’s kick off the discussion. Dennis, first of all, tell us a bit about what a virus is.

Dennis: Yeah, sure. Zizek had an amusing description of a virus. He recently described in an interview with Russia Today, that a virus is basically the most stupid thing one could imagine. Something that just blindly reproduces itself, something meaningless. And technically it's even worse than that, because a virus cannot even reproduce itself. It has to be reproduced by cells, by living cells. And in our societal and historical context, it's not meaningless at all. So a virus is an infectious obligate intracellular parasite. Infectious meaning that it spreads from host to host. A host might be a human being; it might be any animal; it might be plants or even bacteria. Infectious spread also refers to a jump from one host – let it be an animal – to a human, for example. That would be a zoonotic infectious disease. Obligate intracellular parasite refers to the fact that the virus itself can only survive within the host cell and depends on it for its replication and metabolic processes. Replication literally means that it multiplies within the cells. These viruses can come in different sizes. So, there are viruses that are that small that around 500 million of them can fit on the head of a pin, for example. Viruses come in different shapes. They can be helical, some are hexagonal, they can be round. Some might even look like a robot spider. That's the case for bacteriophages. Viruses that infect bacteria. You should definitely take a loot at google images of bacteriophages. They really look like aliens and it's fascinating to see them. Generally, viruses can infect all living beings. Bacteria, plants, animals and humans. We as humans regularly eat and breath millions of virus particles and we don't get infected. Because most viruses are particular for binding to certain areas of the body. They are very specific. An interesting fact is that the biomass of bacterial viruses – i.e. bacteriophages – that live in the ocean and seas exceeds the biomass of elephants by more than one thousand-fold. And if you align all the bacterial viruses, from head to tail in line, the length would reach 100 million light-years. I cannot even imagine what that means. Maybe Robi can tell us what 100 million light-years are.

Robi: Well, the earth-sun distance is 8 light minutes. You need to multiply that for how many minutes there are in a year then again with a 100 million. Sooo, quite a lot.

Dennis: Yeah. It's unimaginable. So, given that magnitude, viruses have also beneficial functions in our ecosystem. I will not go into that, but one example might be that a specific virus helps a plant not get infected by fungi. What do these viruses consist of? They contain nucleic acids, either DNA or RNA. That's basically their genetic code, that determines the characteristics of every living being. Almost every cell in our body has in it DNA. Just that our cells are more complex than viral cells. So, our cells are living because they can produce heat, they can produce structural elements of the cell, such as for the [cellular] membrane. They can produce proteins, which a virus cannot do. The interesting fact, that we should not forget, is that a considerable amount of our genome – when I say genome, I mean our genetic material, basically – has viral DNA in it, which was implemented during evolution and remained there. So, I can imagine that viruses played an important role in our evolution. Again, these viruses have either DNA or RNA; genetic material that they cannot use on their own. They are dependent on other cells to create the proteins and enzymes that they need. In order for that to be possible, the DNA of viruses have the same building blocks as our own cells. They contain nitrogenous bases – Adenine, Guanine, Cytozine, Thymine – a sugar, and phosphate. That's the fact why our own cells – human cells, animal cells, plant cells, which are all dependent on DNA – can read viral DNA. It's the same building blocks for viruses as is for humans. If you extract the DNA and sequence it in a laboratory, one would end up with a sequence. A code that is composed of four letters, namely those four nitrogenous bases. For example:AGCTCTTGACCGT. These viruses also have a capsid. That's, basically, a protein coat that is very durable. That makes them resistant to temperature variations, changes in Ph, drying and detergents. This structure encloses the genome. The DNA or RNA, as I said. And it acts like a protective coating. It's basically like a brick wall. But some viruses might have an envelope. That's basically a lipid membrane that surrounds that virus, that contains proteins and lipids. These envelopes are readily disrupted by drying and such conditions as acidic conditions and detergents, and solvents such as ethanol. This envelope is not as durable as the capsid. So, these envelope viruses must, generally, remain wet. And are transmitted through fluids and respiratory droplets – basically mucus from the respiratory tract – that contain the virus and are excreted outwards through the nose and mouth. Blood and also tissue. And SARS-CoV-2 is such an envelope virus. That's why detergents and ethanol might help in destroying the virus. But we should be aware here, because those respiratory droplets – again, that mucus from the respiratory tract that comes out when sneezing or ever talking – in which the virus spreads, might help that virus to survive the ethanol. Because it acts as a protective CoVer. So, it's best to wash your hands properly with soap. As I have told you, viruses are dependent on a living host in order to multiply. They reach this host cell by entering into our body. Now, how they enter these cells and what happens afterwards. First of all, they need to attach to a specific cell. In case of SARS-CoV-2 they attach specifically to cells from the respiratory tract only. These cells have specific receptors to which the virus adapted to. Generally, viruses are specific to certain areas, to certain cells with specific receptors in the body. Upon binding on that specific receptor, the virus is able to penetrate into the specific host cell. For this to happen, those viruses have specific enzymes which make the penetration possible. When they have penetrated into the cell, the viruses uncoat themselves. They lose their envelope and release their genetic material into the cell. The specific enzymes in our body that read our DNA – in order to produce proteins or in order to replicate, and so on – are also able to read the viral genetic information and, accordingly, to produce viral proteins and components. That is called viral replication. An interesting information is that the HI virus, that causes AIDS, pertains to the class of retroviruses. These viruses have a specific cutting enzyme that can cut open our own DNA, in order to insert the viral genetic information into our DNA. Which then can be read by the enzymes that can read genetic information, and then the parts that are written on that code are produced in our cell. After those viral proteins are produced or the viral components are produced, they get assembled and then the virus is released. The result of this multiplication of the virus is often the death of the specific cells that they infected. Disease or cell damage can be caused directly by the virus, due to multiplication and due to the steps that happen in between the multiplication, or it is due to the bodily response – the immune response – that is elicited by the infection, by the infected cells. But this, obviously, this is an overly simplified sort of a scheme. What happens is much more complex and usually is a combination of both. So, the disease is caused by the direct effects of the virus and the immune response.

Andra: May I jump in with one small question, out of pure curiosity. You’ve mentioned that a virus needs a living cell. So I do have a question regarding the fact that viruses can linger in the air or on certain surfaces, although they don’t come in contact with a living cell. How is that possible?

Dennis: Yes. That's an interesting question. Because that's kind of an ambivalence for a virus. Because, one, we say it's a particle and at the other moment we can say it's also living at the same time. So, it's dead and living at the same time. As a particle it is not doing anything. It is just there, it's existing. It's just an object there, basically, in a respiratory object. Now, if that virus enters those areas where it can bind to specific cells, it binds to receptors and enters the cell. You call that cell then an infected cell. A virally infected cell. Then the virus is living, basically. And all this is possible because it has this capsid. All the viruses have this capsid. And due to this capsid they survive in the outer environment.

Robi: Which is a coating, right?

Dennis: Exactly. It's a protective coating. And that's also how some bacteria, for example, are very durable. Because they also have such a protective coating. It's basically a layer of keratin. That's how they are really durable.

Robi: OK, let’s jump into our current predicament, right? What is SARS CoV 2 and what is COVID 19. Maybe tell us a bit how such a virus emerges and how this particular virus is related to other recent pandemics, like SARS and MERS and others.

Dennis: We know that there are 7 coronaviruses that are capable of infecting humans. SARS-CoV-2 is the 7th. Only three of them are, or were, relevant for severe human disease. There are also other coronaviruses out there, that are rather common and cause the common cold. So, if you have a runny nose, for example, that might well be a coronavirus. But not SARS-CoV-2. Generally, coronaviruses are found in any mammal or bird. SARS-like coronaviruses are found especially within bats. But the intermediate hosts are unknown. So, generally, the population of coronaviruses lives within bats, but they could also be transmitted through intermediate hosts. Through those intermediate hosts, they could jump into us. But nobody really knows how those coronaviruses maintain themselves in human populations. They do not undergo rapid antigenic variation. That means that there is not quite a lot of mutations going on. Whereas the influenza virus – the flu virus – changes every year. That is why we are susceptible to getting sick every year, because the influenza virus changes its antigenic components; components that are activating our immune system. That's why vaccines change yearly also. The hypothesis for coronaviruses is that it elicits a transient immune response, that wanes quickly and then you can get reinfected. Where a second infection is supposed to be milder. And maybe also something is wrong with the memory response of the immune system. The immune system can build up a memory function towards specific antigens. Or the infection might be confined only to the respiratory mucosa, where it elicits a local inflammatory response. And only a mucosal immune response. Because within you mucous tissue and lungs you also have some immune cells that could locally act. And that is one of the theories of how they could maintain themselves in human populations. Let’s talk a little bit about the SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV was found in 2002 and the name says what it does: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Then the MERS virus. I think the first infection occurred in 2012. That's the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus. And now in 2019, SARS-CoV-2. For SARS-CoV from 2002, there were confirmed cases of a number of about 8098 and 774 confirmed deaths. And 26 countries were affected. The case fatality rate was about 10%. That is, basically, the percentage of [infected] people that died due to SARS-CoV. The disease severity had a wide spectrum. It went from a runny nose to fever, to muscle ache, coughing and then – as a complication – pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. I want to emphasize, explain something here. Our lungs – the tissue of our lungs – is basically composed of alveole. These are little hollow cavities found within the lung, in which gas exchange takes place. Gas exchange means basically that oxygen enters the lungs and then it goes into these alveoles. You can imagine small balloons, millions of them. On the surface of those balloons, blood vessels are dispersed. We call them capillaries. Oxygen enters through that surface, of the membrane of those alveoles. Now, if you have acute respiratory distress syndrome, then this membrane, due to an inflammatory process – the surface of those balloons – thickens, and oxygen cannot pass through that thickened wall any more. That would lead to a decrease within the blood of an organism, so that organs cannot be supplied any more with enough oxygen. This leads to multi-organ failure. That's how most of the people died within those SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 infections. For SARS-CoV, the last reported case was in 2004. We assume that the animal reservoirs – the animals in which those viruses resided – where bats, civet cats and raccoon dogs. For MERS-CoV – the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus from 2012– there were around 2495 confirmed cases and 858 confirmed deaths, and 27 countries were affected. The case fatality rate was around 35%, which is REALLY high. Pneumonia was a complication and then, again, the steps of acute respiratory distress syndrome. And multi-organ failure, if the person died. The disease severity also had a wide clinical spectrum. Again, from coughing, fever, runny nose and so forth. Up to actually dying. And the animal reservoir for MERS-CoV from 2012 were dromedary camels. Transmission took place through saliva, feces, urine. Also milk and meat. These are zoonotic diseases that spilled over from animals – bats, civet cats, raccoon dogs or camels – to humans. Now, the interesting question is why did the SARS and MERS outbreaks burn themselves out. Why did they stop? And why doesn't it stop for SARS-CoV-2. For the SARS outbreak from 2003 – that's my example – there were three drivers. First of all, we had a known animal reservoir. We knew it was civet cats and raccoon dogs that harbored that virus, and through which the zoonotic spread took place. So, it was transmitted to people from those animals in open markets. So authorities closed those markets, and effectively blocked that transmission chain. Now, the second driver was actually hospitals, that acted as amplification centers. So, patients basically infected healthcare workers, and vice-versa, because they did not really know about the infections. So, safety measures were implemented and, again, the transmission chain could be blocked. And the most important thing was that SARS-CoV from 2002 was transmitted 24 to 36 hours after you developed clinical disease. So only after the symptoms appeared, the transmission could take place. So, the transmission could actually be stopped when people were quarantined in time. And for SARS-CoV-2, the infectivity already starts before symptoms appear. When blocking all of these three transmission pathways, the R0 – the basic reproduction number, meaning the number of people infected by one infective person – went under one. The virus went extinct. Btw, for SARS-CoV-2 that basic reproduction number is approximated to be around 2.5 to 3. 2.5 to 3 persons get infected by one [infected] person.

Robi: While for the flu it’s around one point and a bit, right?

Dennis: It's around 1.5 to 2, I think. And based on virus genome sequencing results, it is suspected that bats are the natural host of SARS-CoV-2. Because the genome – again, the genetic material, that was sequenced and the DNA extracted – was 96.2% identical to coronaviruses found within bats. Bat CoV RATG13 they are named. So, SARS-CoV-2 might be transmitted from bats, via an unknown intermediate host, to humans. It's important to emphasize that there is no evidence until now, that the origin of SARS-CoV-2 was actually from that seafood market in Wuhan. It could have been [just as] likely caused by a person living in rural China coming in contact with a bat, who then went to Wuhan and started the outbreak. The interesting fact that I want to mention here is that when you have such a new emerging virus, that has a new receptor binding interface, there is a potential for new animal reservoirs. A potential transmission now from humans back to animals. This actually has to be researched about. Because it would mean that it is a potential pathway for the virus to reemerge later on. So to traject this a little bit: basically the first pathway was from animals to humans in China, in Wuhan. Then it circled around the globe, and the main reservoir is presumably humans now. We can then infect animals in our environments, or potentially infect them. Again, this has to be researched about. It's just something one could think about. And these could then go back to bats, and then a recombination of genetic material can go on, and mutation-driven selection can occur. This could lead to new variants that come out again in the future. And to the second part of your question, if we talk about any relation here in regard to prior viruses that emerged, then genetically we can say that SARS-CoV-2 shares around 79.5% identity to SARS-CoV from 2002. But this does not imply anything, neither clinically nor on any other level.

Andra: I would be interested to know if animals are also affected by it. I know that SARS-CoV2 is not that well studied since it is quite new, but as far as we know about SARS and MERS, were animals also affected by the virus, or were they just carriers? And how do we explain, or did epidemiologists and virusologists try to explain why the human body seems to have various responses to the virus. If I understood correctly, some people have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, while others are highly affected. Have SARS CoV and MERS CoV also acted like this and has this been studied?

Dennis: So, you already partially answered that question. This is a newly emerged virus. There is a lot of research going on right now. Anything that one might answer or could answer, is based on assumptions, generally. So, I'm not sure how it is with domestic animals. I cannot answer that. But I am sure there is an intermediate host for SARS-CoV-2. Or there might be an intermediate host for SARS-CoV-2. Such as pangolins, for example, or other animals. It is quite possible that an intermediate host, as an animal, is found, and that these animals are not affected by the infections. That they are just carriers. That is also an interesting fact about bats. Because bats are the most abundant mammal out there, and they harbor a lot of viruses. These bats often, or most of the time, are not affected by those infections. They are just carriers.

Robi: Robi: So, there are a few numbers which are important to characterize the evolution and the spread of a virus. We’ve already talked about mortality rates, spread rates, which is how many people someone is infected infects. Let’s talk a bit about the evolution of the disease, how many cases become chronic, let’s say in comparison with SARS CoV and MERS, and about the hospitalization rates if you know. And also, just to remind everyone: COVID 19 is the name of the disease, SARS CoV 2 is the name of the virus. SARS CoV also was the virus and SARS was the disease. MERS CoV was the virus and MERS was the disease if I understand correctly.

Dennis: So, I think it would be easiest to kind of compare this to the flu virus, to influenza. And to point out some similarities and differences here. Because I hear that notion and commentary on social media, that influenza causes a lot of deaths yearly and much more people are affected by it. And it is true that it causes death. But there are a few factors that ease the whole flu situation. Obviously, both are viruses and both – the flu virus, influenza, and SARS-CoV-2 – cause mostly respiratory disease. That's also true for SARS-CoV from 2002 and MERS-CoV from 2012. Most commonly occurring symptoms that they share, are fever and cough. And they also spread in a similar way, through respiratory droplets. As I said, these are mucus droplets, [that] through sneezing or coughing come out of the nose or mouth, and harbor virus particles in them; millions of them even. These droplets get either directly inhaled through the air, by standing right next to a person, within the radius of 1m, or they settle down on a surface. And then this surface is touched and the hands are then rubbed on the mouth, eyes and nose. Now to the important differences. Obviously, I said they are viruses. But, in the case of influenza and SARS-CoV-2, they pertain to different families, with totally different ways of infecting a cell and with totally different extent of the disease. Influenza, for example, has a short incubation time. Incubation time basically meaning the time from the infections to the first symptom. For influenza, that is 2 to 3 days. For Corona, the average is around 5 days, but it ranges from 2 to 14 days. And now, particularly, to your question about the course of the disease. So, [for] COVID-19 – again, the disease – what the statistical data concluded up to now, 80% are mild cases. They have an uncomplicated course without breathing difficulties, that last from one to two weeks. So, a runny nose, itching in the back of the throat, maybe a little bit of fever; it's all possible. 15% percent of the cases are severe. Here symptoms at onset might appear as mild, but around after 5 to 7 days there is a sudden deterioration, with difficulty breathing and hypoxia. Hypoxia meaning that there is not enough oxygen in your blood. This lasts around 3 to 6 weeks. And 5% of COVID-19 cases are critical, with the possibility of death. They develop pneumonia, it gets complicated as an acute respiratory distress syndrome and then multi-organ failure. That's, generally, the cause of death. That lasts around 3 to 6 weeks. So, generally the course of the disease for SARS-CoV-2 is longer than for influenza. Usually influenza begins more rapidly and the people that recover tend to get better within about one week. And mostly without sudden deterioration. And you asked about the mortality rate. This is yet to be analyzed. There is no definitive mortality rate established yet. But from what I’ve read, the numbers that I have come across, for COVID-19 we can generally say that there is a mortality rate of about 2%. But we cannot really statistically determine that number right now, because there are a lot of undiagnosed cases and so forth. Which for the mortality rate is even good. Because if the undiagnosed cases would be diagnosed and the people would die in the same numbers, then the mortality rate sinks, obviously. We can say that from the age of 50 onwards, the mortality rate rises harshly. The age group of 80+, for example, has a mortality rate of around 9.3%. Persons within the age of 70 to 79, around 5.1%. Whereas the flu annually kills around 1 in 1000 people. That's around 0.1%. That basically means that COVID-19 is around 20 times more likely to cause death. And the highest concern with COVID-19 is that there are so many people that are likely to get sick to that point that they are hospitalized, if it happens at once, the healthcare system basically will shut down. Around 10 to 15% of people need hospitalization with COVID-19, whereas only 2% need hospitalization with influenza. It is important to remember here that just because of COVID-19, does not imply that all other infectious diseases, such as the flu, are removed. So it's an addition right now. We already talked about the reproduction number, I think. So, again, for COVID-19 it's around 2.5 to 3. So the spread is extensive. Around 2.5 to 3 people get infected by one person. For influenza, that number is around 1.6 to 2. And there is also evidence of super-spreaders in COVID-19. Where cases have been reported, that one person infected thirteen persons at once. And that's not regularly seen with influenza. One important last point that I want to emphasize, is that for influenza, first and foremost, a certain default immunity is given for any strain of influenza. To that degree that it's not deadly any more. So, prior immunization processes also affect following infections. So that a certain degree of immunity is given at any point. Because parts of the virus [remain the same], even though it mutates and changes every year. When you got infected once – also in childhood, for example – that makes the infection less worse. And every year, there is a new vaccine coming out for influenza. Which generally leads to herd immunity. That's an indirect protection from infectious disease that generally occurs when a large percentage of the population has become immune to an infection. That number is around 70%. So if the heard immunity of a population is around 70%, the basic reproduction number goes lower than one, and so transmission is reduced or stopped. And on top of that you have anti-viral drugs that reduce the severity of disease for influenza. For SARS-CoV-2, unfortunately, we do not have any of those now. There is no prior immunization: we have never encountered that virus. There is no vaccine: we possibly have to wait one to one and a half years for a vaccine to appear. And there is no medication proven to be effective until now. So we have any immunity and no approved way of decreasing the severity of symptoms. Only through anecdotal experience and expertise from doctors and hospitals, and practical knowledge, clinical knowledge, they tried to decrease the severity of symptoms.

Robi: : OK, so, I learned a lot of stuff here. Just to try to summarize: first of all, the presentation of the disease, COVID 19 is somewhat similar to flu in terms of symptoms, but the virus is actually from the family of viruses that produce the common cold, right? It’s so deadly because it has a higher mortality rate, it spreads so fast because it has a higher spread rate and the reason it’s very very dangerous is because it can infect a lot of people at once, and then, if hospitals are overwhelmed, then the mortality rate can skyrocket. And, for the flu, because you get infected so often, you retain some basic immunity, which you don’t really have for SARS CoV 2.

Dennis: Exactly. And technically for SARS-CoV-2, it's not more deadly because the mortality rate is higher, but because the virus itself is more virulent. I just wanted to clarify that.

Andra: What makes a spreader a super-spreader? Do we know something about the profile of a person who can spread the virus in a more “diligent way” than normal people? Do they have a higher concentration of the virus?

Dennis: Yeah. So, again. For SARS-CoV-2 we do not have a lot of information. And even the super-spreaders appear also with other infectious diseases. Measles, for example. There are a lot of superspreaders, when one person entered one emergency room and infected thirty other persons. There is not – or at least I have not encountered – a lot of papers [about this]. But I can imagine that it has something to do with immunity and, as you have said, with the viral load. So, the number of viruses found in such respiratory droplets, for example. But I can not give you a definitive answer to that question.

Robi: Ok, well I think this is a good point to take a little break, and as a transition to the second part, we will bust a few myths.

Andra: SARS-CoV-2, or as Trump calls it the “Kung-Flu”, is a Chinese Virus.

Dennis: Yeah. And Trump does not have tiny hands. It's simply racist.

Robi: The censorship of the Chinese press is to blame for the proportion of the pandemic.

Dennis: Well. It seems that it worked well, I guess.

Lori: Ok, so, a common one is that the virus was created in a lab.

Dennis: Uhm. This is not completely outside the realm of possibility. There is a particular paper about the proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2, in which this was investigated. And the general conclusion is that the amount of resources needed to create a virus out of nothing is imaginably high. So, this is very improbable.

Andra: Don’t worry, only the elderly and the chronically ill get sick!

Dennis: Nope.

Robi: Snorting cocaine kills the virus.

Lori: This has to be my favourite one.

Dennis: I guess that's what someone on cocaine would sayd.

Lori: This is something that Trump has repeated several times, that warmer weather will kill the virus.

Dennis: I hear that one also. What Trump seems to imply here is a sort of seasonality. That means that viruses, as the weather changes, are destroyed. That's true for particular viruses, maybe. And there is a certain seasonality for influenza viruses, for example. But I do not think that this will destroy the virus, but would rather reduce the rate of transmission. And that is because increased humidity, for example, due to increased temperatures, increases the droplet size. The respiratory droplet size. Due to the accumulation of water. And these droplets are then dropping to the ground faster. That's one way why I could explain to myself why the rate of transmission could decrease. But it will not stop completely.

Andra: Ok, what about UV lamps, warm baths and hand driers, do they kill the virus?

Dennis: Ok. So, UV radiation generally is approved in disinfection of some bacteria. But other than potentially irritating your skin ... Just leave it. And if you prefer warm baths over showering, or a cold bath, then do it. That's a personal thing. But do not do it with the intention to kill the virus. The most efficient way to destroy the virus is to wash your hands with soap.

Robi: Drinking bleach kills the virus.

Dennis: Yeah. It's said to also cure cancer, HIV, the flu and hypertension.

Robi: Well, I think it also kills the host, so indirectly it kills the virus.

Lori: This one’s also good. Drinking methanol kills the virus.

Dennis: If you think losing eyesight protects you from the virus, then sure.

Andra: Gargling salt water hinders the virus from spreading to the lower respiratory tract?

Dennis: I heard that one. That's a good one. Somebody told me that it actually creates an acidic environment. And while that is true for some salts, for table salt there is absolutely no pH change. So it will not hinder the virus from absolutely anything. Don't do it with the intention of killing the virus.

Robi: Collective meditation helps kill the virus.

Dennis: It also helps channeling a sort of collective consciousness for establishing [world] peace.

Lori: Drinking lots of liquids is essential for fighting COVID 19.

Dennis: Well. It's certainly good to drink water in that period. But I'm afraid it will not help in destroying the virus.

Andra: Garlic, vitamin C, palinca or schnaps will slow down the disease.

Dennis: It will not. But garlic is certainly a good ingredient for cooking, though.

Robi: A cure has been found.

Dennis: Up to this day, there is no empirical evidence for any treatment other than anecdotal and practical experience from doctors.

Lori: You should rush to the pharmacy and buy Chloroquine before it runs out.

Dennis: You should stay at home until pharmaceutical treatment is approved.

Andra: Flu vaccine and antibiotics for pneumonia should work in most cases.

Dennis: Up to this day – and it's the 27th of March, 2020 – there is no single vaccine proven to be effective – and also at the same time safe – against SARS-CoV-2. This is a completely new virus. And vaccines are to be developed now. There are some substances now that are entering, or have already entered, clinical trials. And we have to wait.

Robi: Given shortages and price hikes in medicinal alcohol and sanitizers, you should DIY disinfectants.

Dennis: If you are a chemist, and have the knowledge to … alcohol, then sure.

Lori: This is definitely my favourite one. If you undergo treatment, your children will suffer from gender dysphoria.

Dennis: That's the absolutely most stupid thing i've ever heard.

Lori: So you mean to say that it’s not part of the trans agenda or something?

Part II

Andra: What is the situation now globally?

Dennis: The situation is evident for everybody, by accessing the John Hopkins COVID-19 case-tracker website. As of today – the 27th of March – there is 576.859 total confirmed cases. And I think this number is going to rise exponentially still.

Andra: What groups are more at risk and why? Age groups, but also ethnic or professional groups. At the same time, it might be worth asking what factors contributed to it spreading the way it did amongst these categories.

Dennis: If it's for the risk of infection, the families and relatives are at highest risk. This is the main way that the virus has spread until now. And then lets not forget all the workers that are in contact with potentially infected people. Taxi drivers, drivers of public transport, or sales assistants, and health care workers, people working in the food supply chain etc. Let’s not forget a crucial point here. Because I think this is easily forgotten with this imminent threat. Refugees, especially in overcrowded camps, are at high risk of being infected by this virus as well. Lets not forget all the homeless people that cannot self-isolate right now. Making it much harder due to the isolation to survive. Because obviously there are not a lot of people out on the streets any more. And, for sure, there is also a decrease in help for the people in need, because self-organized grouping is restricted now also. And people that live in care centers are also at risk. But I do not have any data on ethnicity, neither for risk nor for severity of the disease. When it comes to the likeliness of developing severe disease, it's clear that elderly people are mostly affected. And this trend is especially seen in Italy, where the general population is older than in many other parts of the world. It is argued that Italy has a high number of mortality reported. And that's on one part due to the fact that the population is older. And more importantly, that the number of cases is underestimated, as I said before. Because tests are not performed on asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic persons any more. In Italy and in other parts of the world. They are rather isolated directly. So, if the amount of people would increase and more people would be diagnosed, so would the mortality rate drop. And also a small factor, which is debatable and not confirmed all over Italy, is that the health care system and ICU beds are also already saturated. That might be true for peripheral hospitals in some cities. But there are still some capacities, as I have read. Due to the saturation and inadequate number of ICU beds, people cannot be treated adequately. Around 90% of the people in Italy that have died had pre-existing conditions. And the average age of patients that died was around 80 years. So, the elderly are mostly affected because they have a lot of comorbid diseases. So, a lot of diseases at the same time. And with age, the immune function decreases. The health conditions that increase susceptibility are diseases such as hypertension and COPD [n.r. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease], or uncontrolled diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Which most of the elderly have. Also cancers, liver diseases, and smokers also. But I want to emphasize here, that having diabetes does not mean you are more susceptible directly [to contract COVID-19]. You are more susceptible if your diabetes is not controlled through medication of insulin. Because non-controlled diabetes would lead to secondary diseases, such as hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, and a decrease in immunity and so forth. Now, some reports also showed that younger persons are affected. And this is true. But most of the cases are associated with prior existing diseases. There was, for example, the case of a young football trainer of 21 years in Spain that suddenly died. Well, he had undiagnosed leukemia prior to the infection. And this case got rather hyped in the media and had that suggestive moment in it, that the virus was worse than we thought. But, of course it is worse than we thought, but due to wrong reasoning in this case with the media. I do not want to deny that these cases exist, even though they are very unlikely. So the percentage is very low, to die here. Again, generally, for young people the risk to die is rather low, whereas beginning from the age of 50, the risk of dying from the disease increases markedly. The factors that contributed to its spreading, the way that it actually did among these categories, are many fold. First, the spread does not only occur within those groups. Everybody pertaining to a certain geographic area, that is not remote from public happening, is at risk of being infected. So unless you are living within a forest in Romania, or Germany, or wherever you may happen to live, where no person comes to visit you, then you are at risk. The transmission of the virus is so high because it has a rather high R0. Basic reproduction number. And because it becomes infectious before symptoms appear. So before you even know you are infected, spreading already occurs.

Andra: That might be why Lombardy and New York are so heavily affected, because they concentrate a large number of individuals in such a compact area.

Dennis: Certainly. Yes.

Andra: Now let’s move on to basic norms of prevention. We know that washing hands and using disinfectants might help, but should one disinfect every piece of furniture every half hour or how should people approach this? Should they wear masks, hand gloves, what other substances apart from alcohol can one use, and what happens with the products we buy at the grocery store?

Dennis: Ok. So, I think the only possible way for prevention – and that's currently the only possible way to deal with the situation – is a decrease in social interaction. I was talking about infectivity before symptoms appear. There is a paper that came out a few days ago, and there they stated that infectivity is occurring before symptoms appear. Two days before... I'm not sure about the numbers. Anyways. It is not enough to diagnose and then isolate, as was the case with SARS-CoV from 2002. The trajectory in its basics, is that of social isolation. And it's necessary to slow things down and not overwhelm the healthcare system. That is from a standpoint of a situation without critique. I think we will talk about critique later on. So if you are going to the supermarket, for example, do not blindly rely on surgical masks. Which are not even proven to be efficient for non-trained people. First of all they might give you a false sense of protection and you might grab your face. And this is especially with face masks, that sometimes may annoy or irritate. And then the second point is that the respiratory droplets are so small that they could just enter through the side of the mask. The mask might get moist and through that it loses its protective barrier, its filtrative function. Certainly for people knowing that they are infected, a face mask prevents them from spreading the droplet. That's why that's preventing the spread of the disease. So if you are infected, then a face mask is certainly the way to go. But that is not the case right now, because you need to be isolated if infected. Face masks are needed for people working in the healthcare system. And right now there is a shortage of face masks – even people stealing some from the hospital. There is empirical evidence that surgical masks when used by professional personnel and a clinical setting, where they encounter secretions daily, where they are dependent on such masks, helps in reducing infectious transmission. The rest of the population also wants masks. Because they believe they are generally protected through them. And then here the problem will be an economical one. Because as demand and market competition increases, so will the prices. And in the end, the hospitals will not be able to afford them any more. It would be ok if people in the population would wear masks that would be made out of fabric, for example, or even a simple scarf. In order to prevent the shortage in hospitals. So I want to emphasize: do not get a false sense of protection by face masks. Now if contact with the outside world is necessary, then obviously hand washing and disinfection proved reliable. I said in the beginning that the coronavirus is a virus with an envelope. So that a solvent, such as ethanol, destroys the virus. Here I want to emphasize again that the virus is inside a respiratory droplet. Mucus from the respiratory tract may serve as a protective barrier. So, the best way to destroy the virus is through washing hands thoroughly with soap. If you go out to the supermarket and come into contact with things that may harbor the virus – and a lot of people still do groceries, obviously, and I assume a bunch of them are asymptomatic, but harboring the virus – ... These droplets, due to gravity, may attach to inanimate objects. And a big part of the spreading of SARS-CoV-2, as I told you when we compared influenza with SARS-CoV-2, occurs through contact spread. Meaning that by touching a surface that has virus particles on it, you transfer them to your hand and then touch your mouth and nose and eyes. Some studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2 survives from a few hours to days on surfaces. So any time you think you come into contact with some surface from the supermarket, you should wash your hands every time before eating something or touching your face. Or you could disinfect the surfaces with at least 70% alcohol or diluted bleach solutions, for example. From a personal perspective, try not to cough or sneeze in the direction of others and try to maintain distance. If possible, try to sneeze into the crook of the arm and keep your hands free from contamination. That is generally valid, not only for SARS-CoV-2. If you are outside, try to keep distance from people, approximately 2 meters. As I have said, those respiratory droplets have certain mass and are pulled down by gravity. But if you are sick anyway stay at home. Right now, the season for influenza is approaching its end, and an infection with SARS-CoV-2 is more likely. And I want to emphasize that the symptomatology for this virus can range from no symptoms at all, to just a tickling in the throat, to diarrhea in the beginning, to fever and difficulty breathing, and as I said, in the end a lack of oxygen, and organ failure and death. So as soon as one has symptoms, do not assume due to its severity or because if it feels like a normal flu, that it is an usual flu. It might not be. And right now, we should assume that it is SARS-CoV-2. We should assume that everybody that has such symptoms is infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Lori: I just have a question to clarify. Since washing hands is important like, a figure that’s most heard is you should wash your hands for twenty seconds, right?

Dennis: Yes. Maybe even thirty seconds if you want. But just wash it thoroughly. In between your fingers, your fingernails, and so forth. You really should get accustomed to a hand washing technique, and I think we can link some things here to correctly and thoroughly wash your hands.

Lori: Just as a side note from personal experience, also buy some hydrating cream to apply after washing, cause if you wash very often your hands will be dry and that makes cuts on your hand, and that just makes things worse.

Dennis: Yeah, that's also valid especially for disinfectants.

Robi: If you want to make sure that you wash for 20 seconds, you can sing the chorus from the song Toxic, by comrade Britney Spears.

Andra: And maybe keep your nails as short as possible.

Dennis: Yeah, that's a good point. Yes.

Andra: OK, now that we’ve discussed basic norms of prevention and you’ve mentioned that when somebody has a symptom they should suspect that they have COVID 19, at what point should you ask for a test or who should ask to be tested?

Dennis: Testing right now is quite problematic. Because the number of tests is limited throughout the world. As I said, some countries started not to take into account asymptomatic or even mildly symptomatic cases any more. So this will obviously also influence the statistics in a non-representative way. What one should do is call a local doctor, or even a hotline that is available on the government sites, I suppose, or from the hospitals. And then there will be professionals or people that tell you what to do. In Romania, the government advises to call 112 for people that might have contracted the virus. And obviously if you have difficulty breathing, that aggravates, then I would highly recommend that you directly go see a doctor or to the hospital. But all of these procedures depend on the country you live in. I cannot answer the question generally. I do not think it's necessary to physically go to doctors or to the hospital for mild symptoms, in the beginning. Unless testing is the country is still a necessity even for mild symptoms. Though I think it's necessary to stay strictly isolated for 14 days. Again it depends on the country you live in and how they handle the situation.

Andra: Could we discuss the implications of the two strategies discussed so far in order to slow down the spread of the outbreak? I’m referring to social distancing and lockdown. I’ve noticed announcements, particularly on German television, presenting arguments for and against both strategies, while Washington Post recently released an article which aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of social distancing. Given the rampant escalation in Germany, which delayed lockdown much longer compared to Italy, France, and Spain, what are your thoughts? Will this blow over or will we be in quarantine for the rest of our lives?

Dennis: Ok. So, my thoughts generally are that we do not really know. We know for sure that a lockdown and social distancing will lead to a decrease in infections. But we do not know the extend, we do not know what impact that would have on the healthcare system, and so forth. My thoughts are that right now, most of the epidemiological data and knowledge about the virus is based on assumptions and theories that are shown to be right or wrong only in retrospect. Let's talk a bit about that Imperial College of London paper that was published in the Report Number 1. Oh, sorry. It's Report Number 9. It's accessible on the Imperial College of London website. Here they basically modeled the impact of public health measures on the impact of SARS-CoV-2 spread. And I broke it down a little bit for you. This is a model study. It's based on assumptions and mathematical formulas. So we need to be cautious here. They made assumptions as would be a median incubation time of five days. And a median infectiousness of a patient appears twelve hours before the symptoms start. And that two thirds of the cases are symptomatic, so one third do not think they have the virus or they assume they do not have it because the symptoms are so mild. That's data from China, basically. Then they assume a 0.9% mortality rate, where the asymptomatic infected persons are included. And that the R0, the basic reproduction number, is 2.4. And that symptomatic individuals are 50% more infectious.

Robi: Wait, what do those numbers mean? I didn’t understand what the assumptions were.

Dennis: The last one?

Robi: And also the previous one.

Dennis: That the basic reproduction number is around 2.4. So again, that's the number of people infected by one person. And that symptomatic individuals are 50% more infectious.

Robi: Meaning that the spread rate is 50% higher? Or what does “more infectious” mean?

Dennis: Yes. Basically, the probability to infect another person. So, this has influence on the basic reproduction number also. I want to emphasize that these are basically assumptions. They could likely be wrong also. They can forge the conclusions. But it's also not like they are just random numbers. These epidemiologists talk to professionals, to doctors, to professors, to clinicians. So, it's more or less anecdotal evidence from clinical practice. And, again, it's based on assumptions. Just because something in China proved to be effective, does not mean that it also applies for Germany or Romania, and other countries. The object of inquiry is to model what impact public health measures would have. That is, non-pharmaceutical intervention. And how this might affect the course of the spread. Here they talk about mitigation and suppression. Mitigation basically means an aim to slow down the epidemic spread and a reduction in peak healthcare demand, while protecting those most at risk. Here the reproduction number goes near to 1, but it will not go below. That means that transmission is not completely stopped, but slowed down. And they assume that public health policies are in place for three months. Whereas for suppression, the aim here is to reverse the epidemic growth and to reduce the number of cases to low levels. And to maintain this situation for as long as a vaccine will appear or a medication that will decrease the severity of the course of the disease for the high-risk groups. That basically means an elimination of human-to-human transmission, by reducing the basic reproduction number below one. And they assume that these public health policies are in place for five months or longer. So, again, I want to emphasize again and again that this is a newly emergent virus. We have yet to research and understand this virus, and it's ways of transmission and so forth. And we will only know in retrospect whether the measures were correct or not. So here we basically talk on one hand about a method that is in accordance with the strategy brought forth by China and South Korea, with all it's possible social and economic costs – which themselves might lead to associated health care issues. Whereas the other method will not completely protect those at risk from severe disease or death, and the resulting mortality might still be high. And lets talk a little bit about the results now. They concluded that if no public health measure will be taken, then in about three months – so in the middle of June – the epidemic would have its peak, with the largest number of fatalities. Numbers that basically mean that in Great Britain (GB) that's approximately 510.000 deaths during the course of the epidemic. Without the inclusion of negative effects and strains on the health care system, and possibly by the burden to the system. Here they concluded that the critical care bed demand is 30 times greater than the maximum supply of beds. And when we talk about mitigation – again this basically refers to reducing the impact of the epidemic. The method here is by flattening the curve. So, that's what mitigation is basically equivalent to – flattening the curve. This reduces overall incidence, i.e. the number of cases, of the disease and death. These interventions need to remain in place for as much of the epidemic period as possible. But it's also important to not start with this method too early. Because then not enough herd immunity has developed, and when relaxing the method, the whole infective chain starts again. Thus, we are again on very uncertain terrain in what to do. The most effective measure for mitigation would be, they concluded, a combination of case isolation – so that every symptomatic patient, every known case has to be isolated –, home quarantine – which translated to the fact that families of patients with the virus have to be quarantined –, and social distancing of those most at risk – so over 70 years old. This optimum mitigation scenario would still lead to an 8-fold higher demand for beds than there are beds in GB. So this still overwhelms GB and would coincide with the situation in Italy. I forgot to mention that these models are applied on GB and the USA, but I will refer here to GB only. If we talk about suppression, in order to reduce the basic reproduction number to below one, a combination of case isolation, social distancing of the entire population, and household quarantine or school and university closures are required. And, again, they assume that these measures are in place for five months. This basically translates to a complete lockdown. It's estimated to have the largest effect on transmissions, without overwhelming the healthcare system. Now, the problem with this is that in this period of five months of complete lockdown no herd immunity will be built. After relaxing the complete lockdown this would basically lead to a reemergence of the virus. So that another epidemic later in the years is to be expected. That's just a temporal shift into the winter of the epidemic. In my opinion this indeed would be useful if we would have medication of vaccines until then, which is very unlikely. So these researchers made a model that tackles exactly that problem of not being able to sustain such a total lockdown for such a long period. And, secondly, the fact that it's unlikely that until winter we will have vaccines of medication. They played around with the concept that involves a lockdown over a shorter period of time, until the number of cases decline under a critical value. Here they want to take the number of cases within intensive care units (ICU), because this is basically the easiest number to monitor. You have the patient in a bed and you count them. After that, after the number of cases declines under this critical value, they want to relax these measures again. So that everyone can go on with their regular life again. After a certain value of increased patients with SARS-CoV-2 reached the ICUs again, then the lockdown was introduced again. So, it's a kind of a switching on and off method, that would prove effective in their calculations. The only downside is that it would take two years. And that's probably not feasible for society.

Robi: I would summarise what you just said, and what the paper says like this: so the scenario with milder measures, which is called in the paper “mitigation”, results in disaster, because there are a large number of deaths, and also the number of emergency hospital beds is exceeded many time, so that might lead to the number of deaths exploding in unforeseeable ways. And the other way is complete lockdown, which is called “suppression” in the paper. That leads to a huge reduction in deaths immediately but, if the lockdown is kept for a smaller time than it takes to make a vaccine, which is estimated at a year, a year and a half in the paper, then, if you immediately loosen all the measures, because people have not developed some form of immunity to the disease, basically they predict that it will be like a rise again, and the number of deaths, over this whole period would be the same like without any measures. There is some critique to this paper, we’ll link the paper and the group that critiques their results in the description of the episode, but basically, in the very short comment on this paper, from a group I don’t remember, they says that yeah, they agree with the findings that you should implement some form of suppression, but they critique their assumptions that lead to the finding that after suppression the number of cases would skyrocket again. They claim that this paper does not take into consideration the fact that you can actually reduce to zero the existing cases all around the world, and 1. That the virus might die out completely or 2. Given a small number of cases and the availability of tests you can immediately trace small outbreaks and you can contain them. That would be one way these are unrealistic assumptions that they make in the Imperial College of London paper, that you cannot contain small outbreaks after this. And my critique, which is not included in either paper, is that you actually have a lot of medicines now that are being tested, and if one of them proves to be even mildly successful in reducing the number of patients with critical symptoms, that would be a game changer because if you can cut the mortality rate close to that of influenza, then you do not have such a crisis on your hands anymore.

Dennis: That's quite an important point that you mentioned here. Because I'm also quite positive here. Because right now, as you said there is a lot going on in the scientific and the practical medical community. And what you just described is sort of a ... It's termed repurposing of medication. Of already existing medication, for example. Meaning, there's trials going on right now in which a medication that is intentionally used for other diseases are used for treating COVID-19. And I also want to add something here. First of all, maybe to criticize this. I don't know if we have the tools and organizatory capacity, for example in Romania. I mean, in South Korea it was possible, for example. But I'm not sure if we can really isolate and trace back all those cases. If isolated reemergence of the virus occurs again. And then, I want to add that there are also antibody tests that are going to be introduced within the next few weeks. From which a lot of valuable data can be extracted. In the sense that with those antibody tests we can detect people that were already infected with SARS-CoV-2. And this is not possible with the current tests available. And if they are positive in those antibody tests, they are assumed to be immune. So these people can potentially start their normal lives again. And as you said, I want to emphasize again that this whole model is based, or can be based on wrong assumptions. And that, as you said, such lockdowns do not necessarily have to lead to a resurgence of the patogen. But we will only know in the end. And we will actually have to wait until a better set data is available. And I think Germany, for example, is doing a really good job at testing people and collecting data right now. But for the long term. The only possible way I see for long term dealing with the situation is that there has to be – as you said – herd immunity established. And this involves, as I said before, around 70% of the population. Because then the basic reproduction number would be below one. And this could be either possible by a lot of dead people in a short time. Or by vaccination. Or a combination of waiting for a vaccine and – as you said – this repurposing of medication. Meaning that this medication might treat fatal symptomatology and then the vaccine to the majority to obtain herd immunity. So the ones that cannot get immunized get protected as well. And the next coronavirus might be already lurking here. So, extensive research is needed.

Andra: To sum up, at the moment there are too many unknown points to basically predict, with a high degree of effectiveness.

Dennis: Yes, if you want to synthesize it like this, you can do it. Yes.

Part III

Robi: Let’s move to a part of the discussion which is a bit more political in nature, about how capitalism generates or at least amplifies pandemics, about what the responses of the governments have been to the crisis situation, and how we can wrap our minds, we as leftist, around this situation. Let’s start this series of questions by asking how do you think that mutual aid and social distancing can work together. How could we, as leftist groups organize in our communities while at the same time practicing self-isolation and keeping safe. Because simply going out, without reflecting on it, can actually make things worse.

Dennis: Yeah. So mutual aid and social distancing is obviously important now. And it obviously depends on us as people of a society to help those in need right now. But I cannot really give an answer to you now. Because that whole concept of self-organization, as whole, broke apart now. There is no way to allow groups to come together at this moment. And our communities are not organized any more. Groups and collectives that helped those that are in need at the most. And those that are [in need] at the moment. Lets not only think about the risk groups that are affected by COVID-19 directly. But also about all the refugees living within big groups of people, as I mentioned. The unsheltered and the homeless, that cannot isolate themselves. And which were taken care of by such self-organized groups. And it is easy for the bourgeois that does not worry because he or she is financially independent, living in a big house. And then, there is a lot of people having psychological disorders, for whom this experiment is going to be existentially dangerous. People of lower income jobs that just lost their grounds of existence, unfortunately. So my take on this, is a negative one. In the sense that we lose our autonomy right now, and we compensate that with a false sense of solidarity. Which is even reinforced by the state. Even the state is appealing for solidarity amongst people. But solidarity should not be to just compensate what the state and capital – in it's long for maximization of profits – is to be blamed for. I mean, probably all of this could have been prevented. And right now, the problem is not the deaths, but rather the collapse of the health care system. Which was severely neglected financially by saving measures. And probably we will see major changes in the public health policy after all of this. Or at least I hope that. So that's currently the problem I have with this whole situation, from my own leftist perspective. I mean the entire governmental apparatus, all the people found within that government apparatus – even leftists, but also fascist and democrats, the people of the societies, whatever you want to name here – enter that moral stance of superiority and they think that they do something of high magnitude. The governmental apparatus, the parliament's authorities, the National Institutes of Health, they cry and appeal for mutual aid, in order to prevent death of people in the risk groups. And it's capital to blame, not us. And from this perspective, one could argue, in times of crisis a whole society transforms towards ideals of the left, in terms of social aid and social concerns in general. But in my opinion, solidarity is to be encountered outside of the state. Solidarity for me means to overcome power relations which we were born into. Which we see are wrong. And when we are alone with them, lose the hope for overcoming. Of the breaking apart of state and capital. And only as a collective can we overcome that. So, solidarity is not found where the state reinforces it. Where the middle class suddenly awakens, seeking a chance of sort of gaining a chance of personal fulfillment. But where the good is not ordered or commanded. Where it is basically internally known, as a Nietzschean ideal. And it's not where we enter the Judeo-Christian moral superiority, blaming others that still go outside. But where reciprocal and natural responsibility, and social cooperation is created due to authority exploitation and obedience. With the longing to overcome it as a group, as a collective. And personally me – and I think it was Nietzsche here – didn't lose that hope in healthy humanism here. And I just want to warn that we shouldn't get a false sense of solidarity here. And of course we need to help each other, and we need to help those in need. And in the end we need to help ourselves, and by that others. That's my sort of take on this debate about solidarity.

Lori: I have a bit of a follow-up to this. So at the end of the day, if we want to organize outside of our homes, especially if the lockdowns last for months on end, then we probably have to talk about actually taking conscious and informed risk. And if we want to go out at the end of the day, then especially vulnerable groups will need to have food delivered to their homes.

Dennis: Yeah

Lori: If they even have a home, right?

Dennis: Yeah

Lori: As you’ve mentioned, refugees or homeless people who will be severely affected by all of this. So at some point we will have to think about leaving the house and we’ll have to be very conscious about how we do it.

Robi: And who can take up this risk, right?

Lori: Yeah, exactly.

Robi: That’s where you can leverage your privilege.

Andra: I might want to add that maybe one of the groups that could also be considered at risk are those in charge of producing our basic products.

Dennis: Exactly. The people in the food supply. And factory workers, especially, still have to work within a high number of people in a small room most of the time.

Robi: Yeah, it’s almost incredible how these kinds of loopholes are made for capital so it can continue on existing, while people have to stop their lives completely. I know that in Italy now, at this stage, on the 27th of March, after thousands of deaths, only now did they stop workplaces that weren’t producing essential goods. Here, in Romania, I know my parents work in factories where they do alarms and car parts and things like this that are not essential and they are still working, I mean it’s incredible. Many people in a relatively small room. And it’s incredible that these spaces are made for capital to somehow continue to flow, although people are confined to their houses. This is, for me, the space where capital’s contradictions become ...

Dennis: Yeah

Robi: … plain to see.

Dennis: And those contradictions would actually lead to probably the death of capitalism. If it was not for the state to act as a mediator between capital and proletariat here, in this case.

Lori: I actually have a follow-up on Robi’s example: in Italy, unions and in Lombardy actually threatened to go on strike and their demands were more drastic measures against the coronavirus. I mean, it’s tragic that it had to happen in such an absolutely awful context, but it still shows the power of unions to put a break on capital and the necessity of doing that.

Robi: Robi: Ok, so let’s delve a bit deeper into the responses of the government. I also come to this as an anti-authoritarian leftist, but my positions is very mixed and I will explain why, but first I would like for you to give your take on this. For me, especially problematic is the fact that the army is present in the streets, at least in Romania and in many other countries, with guns, which is unexplainable, I mean there’s no logic to why soldiers have guns when they’re patrolling the streets. What is your take on the government’s reaction to this crisis, and I will also ask if you know about differences between countries. For instance here, in Romania, they have recently introduced a curfew. I don’t really think that the army’s presence was necessary, I don’t think we had conditions that were not under control, like in France for instance, where people were still gathering in public squares after the curfew was imposed. But in Romania there were individual people, but you didn't have public gatherings like that. So to me it seems completely unjustified that the army was deployed, and in general when the army is deployed it brings shivers down my spine. This pandemic comes at a particularly worrying time . There's a lot of far-right sentiment, you know, it’s growing in many countries. I think Hungary was declared an authoritarian republic or whatever. The only non-democracy in Europe. It’s major. And all of the governmental measures come against this background so my fear is that it will only give fuel to this right-wing sentiment.

Dennis: Yeap. I have similar thoughts. You know, I think that it's that sort of coming through. That profane epiphany of a wet dream for friends and advocates of totalitarian thought. Kind of that addition of divine parts of Hitler's body. As if Hitler's right eye is slowly and heavenly descending from the sky with a glimmer of light and heavenly music. Kind of adding one part slowly on one another [n.r. Dennis high on Nietzsche hear] . That's certainly playing into their hands and thoughts right now. For them to see a democratic state being able to lever out basic human rights within seconds. Ending the support for refugees, for example. Because the state is in a sort of emergency. Closing the borders. Then to increase the presence of surveillance. The presence of police in the streets. Even the military, as you said, in some countries. And since Wednesday even in Romania. Where people diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 even are directly surveilled via their phones or cameras. And to enforce authority. And to simply pass laws without the notice of a parliament. And that list can be continued. That's basically everything you would not want to see in a democratic state. And that you would see in a totalitarian one. And this goes even further, where right wing parties and right minded people endorse the racist thought of refugees and foreigners as infectious carriers that infiltrate the countries. Let alone that feeling of superiority against China and Chinese people. Sort of that, "China the ugly, disgusting, filthy people that eat bats and rats" and so forth. All of this certainly plays into their hands. It's fertile, very fertile, grounds for them. And for me this is truthfully a concern when I hear that I have to carry around my personal Id, to carry around a statement form where I had to declare where I have to go. I got anxious. That's in Romania, btw. I mean, what's next? Are we really just a bunch of empty-headed individuals that just wander around, so they need that authority? Or is this just a reflection of the immanent nature of the system that we live in, and which our lives are structured by? And I think it's the last. Because, it seems, in times of crisis the societal change is governed by the ruling and administrative class. According to their guild. We are right now in a state of totalitarianism. Where we are forbidden to group together. Where we are inhibited from going outside. From basic human rights for ourselves and for others. And, again, I want to emphasize this. Who is helping and thinking about homeless people right now? If it was not for the self-organized groups who helped, and who cannot help any more at this moment. Who is thinking about the refugees in Greece? Who is thinking about other conflicts that used to be out there before corona? I usually don't like to enter that whataboutism. But this just shows me that it's just a self-centered isolated sphere, this crisis. And it's disconnected from the outside world. And even from conflicts within the countries. Basically an isolated sphere that surrounds ones apartment or house. And we cannot do anything about it. Because we are in a state where we tend to obey and lose our autonomy right now. Where our freedom is undermined by the inherent necessity of state and capital to keep up working and exploitatory conditions. And I'm afraid that our relationship towards state and capital – towards the rulers of the country, so to say – towards authorities, will stabilize and change to what it is now. Towards obedience. And this is accepted by many, and is endorsed by many, and supported by many. I think if a going back to normal is occurring after that – and it probably will – than it is occurring with greater impotence towards authority and a greater obedience. And I personally fear that. I really fear that. And why is all that? Because all of this is possible and happening, because there is a moral legitimation for it. There is no single way to do anything about it. We are impotent to protest against. Because if you want to say anything against the measures, you are to be denounced as immoral, as irresponsible, and whatever this might mean, from others. And this is disturbing for me. This is one of those moments that I never imagined. And even if I'm not a big fan of Fridays for Future and others, it's a moment when I wished it would be possible to protest. I'd wish to see the protest against the harrowing situation of refugees in Greece and all over the world. But right now, the climate debate, the situation of refugees in Greece, the war in Yemen and Libya, is all forgotten. I don't want our societies to enter a state of amnesia. And the name of the symptom is Corona, but the illness is termed capitalism. If you want to put it in these pathetic terms. I'm already sorry for saying this. I think the absurdity should not be overlooked, that it's forbidden for people to move freely. While others have to continue working in factories, as you said. And manufactures, and call centers, and delivery jobs. With a high number of people within closed rooms. And we cannot even protest against it. That's a dark outlook. I think there were prior wake-up calls, and I hope that this was a specifically loud one. So I certainly do not think that this is justified, given the possible negative consequences for the society and individuals on their own, out of this whole situation. And we will only know in retrospect if the measures were successful, and whether this has a negative impact. It's all speculation up until now. I just want to criticize the situation which we were thrown into, and which we carry on our shoulders right now, not the state. And they should carry it actually. And I want to say that all of this could not have been possible ... No. Let's say, it could have been prevented if it wasn't for the interest of capital. Of maximization of profits.

Andra: I think your last point was very important because I also think, looking in retrospect to what the Minister of Health in Germany said in February, I do think that you’re right and it could have been prevented if the authorities in Europe wouldn’t have downplayed the seriousness of the matter, because measures of containment put in place earlier on probably, probably who knows, this is contrafactual history, but probably could have led to more than living a life in normality and maximizing the profits and so on. But on the other hand I would like to come back now to Romania and offer my point of view, which is not to say that I don’t think your point of view is valid but I would see this as a way of appealing to army and police in order to contain a virus as a desperate measure to hide how ill prepared or unprepared the state is to face such a serious pandemic. To be quite frank, I can’t imagine the Romanian healthcare system, both private and state healthcare to be prepared or to take the right measures, because they lack the capacity of doing it properly. What happened in Suceava shows it quite well, and what happened in Timisoara shows it also very well and the protest of the doctors and nurses in Teleorman also tend to point in this direction. So I think the authorities are overwhelmed by what is happening and they just try to take some actions but obviously, in my opinion, they have no idea how to properly manage the real problem, which is the pandemic. So they try to take all these measures and come up with elaborate discourses, but basically it’s all just to CoVer the fact that they are ill prepared.

Dennis: And I want to add here that the actual problem is not even the pandemic, but I think capitalism itself and that exact austerity measures that I was talking about. Because we could have been even better prepared if hospitals and public health wouldn't have gone under such economic measures and cost-cutting measures, and so forth.

Andra: Even in Germany.

Dennis: Yeah-yeah.

Andra: I know that the Robert Koch Institute came up with a scenario in 2013, and the German authorities, which obviously have more possibilities to tackle this problem, did not take that into account, they just preferred to brush it off.

Dennis: And we see the sort of desperateness and hopelessness of what is happening with the state and the public health system with this exact indicator that I was talking about. That's exactly these totalitarian and authoritarian structures they established. That's pure hopelessness. And sort of like an electrical shortcut [n.r. short circuit], lets call it. Something that was not really thought about. Something where more experts should have been involved in the discussion, and so forth.

Robi: Ok, let me just add my 50 bani on the response of the government, and the issue of curfews and stuff. So, on one hand, as a person with anarchist affinities, it’s deeply, deeply problematic for me to see the army manage citizens and stuff like this, for you to have to complete a form every time you leave your house, like I said this brings chills down my side. But the other side, which also needs to be emphasized, is that for me, when I hear someone saying that autonomy comes first, before anything else, what I see here is privileged talking. Because this disease affects… the mortality rate is especially large amongst elderly people, people with disabilities, and people with chronic illnesses. And when you say that somebody should not define or should not impose to me that I need to stay in my house, that it should be my choice ultimately, I think this is also in part not legitimate, because you are conflicting with the rights of another social group. You are reducing or barring the right to life and the right to health and the right to social services of elderly people, of disabled people, of chronically ill people. As a young person you are increasing your risk only with a small amount if you go outside your home, but you are increasing the risk to these groups with quite a large amount. I can say, sure, autonomy is important for me, I’m a young, white guy, autonomy is something that I think about a lot. But at the same time, I’m a mildly disabled person, and I feel a deep sense of belonging to the disabled community, and what I hear when I hear someone saying that “autonomy comes before everything else”, what I hear them saying is “my life is less valuable, the life of people from my community is less valuable than their autonomy”, cause the trade-off is the risk of mortality, of cutting years, maybe decades of someone’s life, versus reducing or giving up your autonomy for two months. So I think that this needs to be emphasized, And I cannot tolerate, I cannot accept somebody saying that my life is less valuable, and especially not from comrades.

Andra: I think that’s a very good point.

Dennis: It is indeed a good point. And by no means do I try to ... I encourage people to go organized, to go outside and fight against the repressions, or let's say the totalitarian structures that are imposed on us now. But, still, I think I should be able to criticize what is happening right now and to give my outlook on how dark I think it is for us right now. But your point is totally valid.

Robi: And I agree with your points and with what Andra said completely. I just think that every time when you talk about your autonomy you need to also qualify it in this context, this is all that I’m saying.

Lori: Just to quickly add to Robi’s point. You know, it’s a… like, this autonomy stuff, of course you hear it from right-wing proprietarians all the time, whatever, their opinion doesn’t matter. But it’s doubly troubling when you hear it from left-libertarian people, comrades, and it’s, you know, like they haven’t even read Bakunin or something, like the lowest you can go in terms of theory. Because even there there was a strong emphasis on community, you have social responsibility. Freedom and autonomy comes with social responsibility, it’s inextricable, it’s not separable from it. And then, just to push Dennis’s point further, since you mentioned that capitalism is actually the disease, totally agree with that, because... let’s just imagine, let’s put on… let’s do counterfactual history, let’s just imagine how easy it would have been to deal with this crisis if we had proper public housing, to the extent of 80-90% of people having guaranteed housing, if we had four hour work days, right? If medical systems would not have been completely eroded by neoliberalism for the past decades, we’re literally talking about decades here of assault on public structure. If we had extensive, or to tie it to our previous reading group, when we read The New Human Rights, where the author tried to present this idea of a good measure of, quote on quote, succes, or how we organize society would be public health, in an extended sense. If we had proper healthcare services that reduce stress, so that your immune system is better, if you weren’t overworked, if you weren’t completely alienated from yourself and others, how easier it would have been to deal with this crisis. Let alone maybe it wouldn’t have even emerged, because that requires some structural changes that would have prevented this from happening in the first place. It’s actually troubling that people don’t see this, and rather they tend in the opposite direction. They kinda espouse this environmentalist sentiment that “oh, look, this disease finally cures the plight that is humanity on the earth” and it’s like this Malthusian ecofascist outlook that “humans are the problem”. Where through these five points or however many I’ve listed previously it’s clear that it’s fuckin’ capitalism. Humans have nothing to do with this. It’s capital. Capital destroys the earth, right? And you can easily see that the slowdown of the capitalist mode of production is instantly visible when you look at maps of CO2 emissions in Northern Italy, in Seattle, in other places with industry and usually high economic activity and they dropped drastically. It is capital that is the problem. Ok, I’m done, I’m sorry, I just really, really hate capital. Basically, in conclusion it’s capitalism that is the real virus, right?

Dennis: Yes, you are right. Capitalism is an imminent threat. As is Corona. Or COVID-19. Or SARS-CoV-2. Just that the severity of capitalism is many fold higher. The problem that it has is its relentless longing for the maximization of profits, under any circumstances. And I want to emphasize again, if there weren't any legislation and working law and so forth, the results would be catastrophic. And would probably result in the death of capitalism, as the working force would be drained of their energy. Here again the state functions as a mediator between proletariat and capital, and by this keeps capitalism alive. The analogy of the virus is accurate in this case. Even though, I would consider the virus more of a natural entity. Whereas I would not assert that of the historical progression of capitalism. It is as if two – lets assert both sort of a consciousness – fronts found themselves [n.r. Dennis tripping again]. This comes rather handy for capitalism right now. Because it's own downfall can be regarded as having been caused by an external threat. An external cause, named SARS-CoV-2. The image of an enemy. We could obviously argue about that neo-malthusian notion of overpopulation and overconsumption. Or lets call it natural selection. Obviously it's quite an eco-fascist way of looking at this, inspired from a kind of social darwinism. Which in the end even starts with a wrong premise, which is that overconsumption would appear in a capitalist system. I think never have we produced more, and more in abundance. Never have we had such a material wealth so that probably double the world could be fed if the resources would be distributed uniformly. I mean, obviously from a capitalist stance, where the ecological system is depleted and exploited, and drained anyways. I'm worried about how this is going to end up for Brazil, for example. Where exactly this notion is taking place. So arguing from this standpoint as if in capitalism, a reduction in population would inherently lead to a sort of sustainability, that is not [only] anti-humanitarian. I think it's delusional. We see now by these so-to-speak accompanying drastic consequences of the economic system and from within the capitalist system itself, as a negation of the logic of capitalism, so to say. Of it's longings – the maximization of profits. In the sense that factories and manufacturies are slowed or shut down right now. And I feel really comfortable with those direct, evident results. Actually seeing that the only way to change this imminent threat is to decrease production. Of course, in the end, to abolish capital itself.

Lori: Yeah, capital definitely can’t be allowed to self destruct, because it’s so deeply tied to literally everything, capital has colonized all peoples of the earth, it has colonized nature, it has commodified all peoples and all of nature, to the point that if it self-destructs it will destroy everything. So we kinda have to consciously excise it at this point, unfortunately, like maybe the pandemic puts some external pressure on it, but it can’t be left undirected, so to speak.

Dennis: And I want to add something. Because that point you just made, about the commodification of nature, is actually also something that Adorno talked about in connection to Hegel. Let's think about nature a little bit. We kind of think about nature as that which has not been modified through human activity. So that nature arises from unblemished corners and cracks of the world. But this in its essence is pure fiction. In this sense nature does not exist any more. And Hegel was talking a little bit about this in his Philosophy of Nature. And then Adorno also talked about this a little bit. And he countered Hegel, basically ... He assorted Hegel sort of ... that Hegel would be a philosopher of identity. And Adorno basically made the inversion, where he would be the philosopher of non-identity. Which basically means that nature exists exactly there where it is suppressed and dominated by man. For example, there is a nice picture. If you imagine a street, and out of this street a crack occurs due to a plant, for example. That is exactly where to search for nature. I just wanted to add that.

Lori: Yeah, so, this is actually something worth discussing on its own. Because we kinda, unfortunately, I think it’s quite a large failure of the left and of the ecology movement in particular that it kinda didn’t emphasize the point that, as you said, there is no such thing as you know, that pure, untouched nature. Capital has sunk its claws into it, so it’s like when we talk about large scale factory farming, or large scale monocrop farming; a pest or a virus that gets produced in those conditions is not, you know, quote unquote, "natural", it is socially produced and it’s obvious that it’s socially produced. Ok, not obvious, that was my initial point. That’s a very important thing to emphasize, because if liberals wouldn't constantly reinforce the narrative that it’s "natural", then we could kinda start realizing that “wait a minute, we can actually do something about this”.

Dennis: Yeah. And this is actually quite a Hegelian point. In the sense that actually when you see, for example, a three, you already see it's final product. A desk, for example. Or you should see it. You should assert that to a three. [n.r. Dennis once more tripping balls]

Robi: Robi: So I think maybe we should plan to include this in the follow-up episode to this that we were planning to do. To discuss about the interconnectedness of nature and society, or in Marxist language, first nature and second nature, right? And I also feel it’s a bit warranted to delve a bit deeper into the way that capitalism sets the stage and creates the conditions that make such a pandemic appear and amplify, and become fully global. I really feel the need to continue. Now we just vented a bit and shat on capitalism, which felt good, but I really think we should follow this up with a rigorous discussion of exactly how capitalism creates the conditions for the appearance and the spread of such a pandemic.

Dennis: Yeah.

Robi: If you guys agree, let’s wrap up this discussion now with a generic question, “what should we learn from this pandemic on all possible levels, both systemic and individual”. Dennis, maybe you start if you want.

Dennis: Yeah, sure. I can start. So. I think we can see here the inherent nature, or rather the inherent logic – because it's not "natural", as we just discussed – of how we are geared and interlocked in an utterly disturbing system. It's a time that we can gain clarity about our political, and philosophical, and societal and human situation. We have to escape from that notion of being part of a natural order. Where we enter that narrative of "Oh! That's just how it is." It's part of our fate. Of nature. That's what Marx would term mystification of societal relations. Where basically the immanent structures of capitalism and the state are reproduced by society itself. Because they are blind towards it. That's exactly what Marx meant in his preface of his book A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy. Where he states that it is not the consciousness of man that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. So that kind of shift from idealism to materialism, basically. We should get conscious about the fact that we reproduce all of the system ourselves. I think this escape can happen right now, and I think that this whole situation actually leads to a demystification of this natural logic. Or can lead to. If there are people criticizing what is happening. So on the one hand, we are inhibited in our basic rights, and basal life is discontinued. So culture and cultural life is basically cut off. Art, and music, and operas, or festivals and museums. Our access to libraries and universities and schools. And everything you want to name here, are shut down from one second to another. But at the same time, the state does everything to maintain production and industries and banks, potentially risking the death of people. But that's something that capital never cared about, as long as the workforce as a commodity is available. A friend of mine just told me that she has to work in a bakery in the weekends. Which in it's essence would not be that controversial, because it's essential food supply. But people are still allowed to sit there and eat and drink together. And I don't know, for me something just does not fit here. That exact moment does not fit here, is simply the fact that the interests of major corporations are balanced with the interests of the humans pertaining to the society. Just that the former interests weigh more than social freedom, in this case. I think now is the time to realize, that capital and the state got undressed and it's most basic logic is naked now, and ready to be attacked. And as a synthesis to this whole discussion, I have a quote from Nietzsche. From one of his books, Ecce Homo. Here now, I'm sorry to all my religious friends. I still love you. The quote is as follows: "After coming into contact with a religious man, I always feel I must wash my hands".

Robi: That’s a good metaphor. Yeah.

Lori: We could paraphrase that and say, like, “whenever I come in contact with a liberal I have to wash my hands”.

Robi: Robi: Well, for me it’s very clear, and not only from this pandemic, but it makes it very visible that capitalism has infiltrated every part of the globe, we are all interconnected, the flows of capital are global, and I think that us as anti-authoritarians need to think how we can also creates structures and act on this scale, because we are are very good at trying things out from the cracks of the system, but I am at a point in my political becoming where it’s very, very important to me to think, and not only in broad strokes, but in really concrete terms, how we can construct large-scale networks that could run and govern a society, and also deal with a pandemic, for example. Although I would believe that in a non-neoliberal capitalist system fewer pandemics would appear, nonetheless climate change is a reality. We could mitigate it a bit, but it would still be a reality. Any kind of anti-authoritarian system needs to also tackle these global issues. At this moment in history, any kind of anti-authoritarian thought needs to engage with these global issues.

Andra: I’m not a theorist myself, but I’ll give it a shot here. It might sound a bit controversial, but in my point of view capitalism is not a single problem and there are many facets that should also be taken into account. I think our perspective on what value is and where we place value is also rather problematic and this is transparent in how we value the work of the workers or of the people who work in agriculture and who are paid… I just can’t qualify it cause it’s obscene… But I just think that a gendered perspective might be effective in this discussion, because the problem is capitalism is fueled by myths of meritocracy, which are inherently also entangled with patriarchy and manly values and so on and so forth while solidarity and empathy are devalued because they are more or less considered to be associated with womanly things. Of course, in the end they don’t produce palpable value and they can’t be quantified, but I do think that, especially in our context, one can see how important it is to stick to humanist values and to try to counteract this idea of meritocracy and profit and productivity, because in the end society should work for the people, for each and every member of the society, and not for amoral instances such as economy, I mean they should be served by the economy and not the other way around. People should not work to boost the economy, but the boost in the economy should serve the people. This is probably not very articulate, but that’s my stance.

Robi: Full heartedly agree.

Dennis: I just wanted to add to your point, Andra, that that's exactly what we see now also. I mean, most of the public healthcare system is based on the workforce of female members of our society.

Robi: Robi: Yeah, and especially healthcare workers. Perhaps doctors are mostly male, but the ones who are doing a lot of the work are nurses and both medical and non-medical staff.

Lori: I think we can all agree, capitalism literally makes everything worse.

Robi: Seems kind of a long running theme in this podcast.

Lori: Exactly, and for the first time, being lazy kinda pays off, right?

Robi: You are socially responsible by being lazy.

Lori: Yeah, exactly, for the first time in many decades, being lazy is the way to go.

Robi: It’s our time to shine.

Lori: Exactly.

Robi: Thanks a lot Dennis, this has been a fantastic discussion, hope to make some more episodes together and keep in touch.

Dennis: Yeah, I thank you too. It was a nice experience. And it was my first podcast.

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