THE president and first lady of the United States have just tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump is not the first head of state to be infected and he probably won’t be the last. Why do we still think it’s a hoax?

I would have thought that after six months of quarantine, we would know better. That after watching people “we actually know” fall ill and die, we would be more enlightened. Sadly, not.

I’ve heard it myself. The hospitals are inflating the numbers—reporting non-Covid cases as Covid cases. There is no real threat.

I am not privy to any kind of corruption going on anywhere. But I just want to say that corruption and Covid-19 are not mutually exclusive events. If false claims are going on, that doesn’t mean Covid-19 cases are not happening.

Are the numbers bloated? If anything, it may be the opposite. So many mild and/or asymptomatic cases may have flown under the radar. So many deaths that occurred due to complications from Covid may not have been counted.

But people will choose to believe what they want to believe. Still, I didn’t think that after six months, more than 34 million cases and over one million deaths globally, we would still be in such deep denial about this pandemic.

It’s frustrating to have to keep debunking conspiracy theories, exposing fake cures and false claims, explaining to disbelievers that the virus is real and that it kills. Yes. Majority of the cases turn out to be mild but this is no excuse to flout safety protocols. And let me tell you why.

There is so much we don’t know about this virus—why it kills some, why it spares others. We know that co-morbidities, genetics and past exposures to other viruses may come into play but some cases continue to depart from the model.

In terms of transmissibility and immunity—while we know more today, we still don’t know enough. Treatments are experimental and evolving. The vaccine is a long time coming. The long-term consequences remain unknown.

So if you think you can overcome this virus because you’re young and healthy, don’t be so sure. Some people who have “recovered” from this virus went on to experience sporadic symptoms and/or developed complications that now significantly alter their lives.

You may survive this virus but will you ever fully recover? Only time will tell. You may survive this virus but will you be able to live with yourself if you infect and kill others because you thoughtlessly chose to flout safety protocols?

This is not just about you. This is about your family, your community, your country, humanity as a whole. What will it take for you to believe that this virus is real? That it kills—perhaps not you but someone you love.

How do we know this virus is real? Let’s not find out the hard way.