The dangerous sophistries of Mykonos

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The truth is that the coronavirus, like all viruses, is transmitted at all hours of the day, all around the world – despite initial speculation or hope – regardless of the season. It is the height of summer and Greece has more cases per day than it had in the spring.

In this sense, the business owners of Mykonos seem to be right when in an announcement they wonder “What epidemiological data substantiates the assumption that the virus is transmitted from midnight to 7 a.m. and not from 7.01 a.m. to 11.59 p.m.?” 

We say “seems to be right” because it’s sophistry.

If hourly epidemiological studies are done, it will be found that between, for example, 7 a.m. and noon, there will be a small rate of transmission and this is not because the virus is not a morning type, but because people who go on holiday do not wake up at dawn to interact and become infected or infect others with the virus. There are times when people maximize their contacts and times when – perhaps in the absence of alcohol – they follow safety protocols.

Nothing is certain in life and much more so when it comes to epidemiology. As all studies say, the enemy will be with us for many more years, if it is ever eliminated. The struggle that is taking place now is not in the realm of the absolute, but of the feasible. The virus will be transmitted anyway, but its spread must not be explosive and bring all systems – health and others – to their knees. Or, to put it another way, the gun ban in Greece did not end the killings. In the US, where guns are allowed, homicides are proportionally much higher than in the rest of the world, even in neighboring and culturally related Canada.

The other sophistry of Mykonos is related to the question “Why is it transmitted only in restaurants and bars and not in villas?” Do you intend to finally stop the illegal parties that will multiply and ignite the epidemic? The truth is that villas are a big problem and according to experts can become health bombs. However, houses are not restaurants or bars – they do not need a state permit to operate, a permit that is issued under various conditions. For example, people under the age of 17 are not allowed in bars. In private spaces there are no such limits. Authorities can intervene, but with less legitimacy than at bars.

The reaction of the business owners of Mykonos is understandable, but not at all justified. They are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, although one could argue that they were disproportionately gaining in the previous – normal – years. The problem is a big one and sophistry does not solve it, but it can make it worse.

Published in 15.8.2020