In 1993, the film Groundhog Day made its debut, a comedy about a cynical weatherman who is forced to relive his day over and over in an endless loop while covering the Punxsutawney Phil event on 2 February.
Punxsutawney Phil. of course, is the legendary groundhog who emerges from his den on that date every year, and if he can see his shadow, it means we’ll be having six more weeks of winter. If the groundhog casts no shadow, it’s a harbinger of early spring.
Over the years there have been several generations of Punxsutawney Phil, just as there have been for some of his less-famous but esteemed brethren—Wiarton Willie, Jimmy the Groundhog, Dunkirk Dave, and Staten Island Chuck, to name a few.
There are two things I find surprising about this whole groundhog mania. The first is that so many people appear to give credence to the animals’ weather forecasts year after year, despite an absolute lack of evidence to back them up.
If Phil or his brethren see their shadows, meaning six more weeks of winter, we are told spring will arrive on or about mid-March. But in all my life in Canada, during nine decades from the 1940s to the 2020s, I have never seen an end to winter that early.
Conversely, if the groundhogs do not see their shadows, that portends an early spring, presumably sooner than mid-March, which I have also never seen. I give more credence to the old adage proclaiming that if March comes in like a lamb, she’ll go out like a lion, and vice-versa.
In my experience, the groundhogs’ either/or dichotomy is a neither/nor.
The second thing that surprises me about Groundhog Day is that so many of the same people who rely on the animals’ weather advice pay no attention to medical advice from virologists, epidemiologists, and research scientists with respect to the Covid pandemic that has swept the world.
These people refuse to be vaccinated against the disease, despite knowing the success of vaccines against many other diseases—diphtheria, influenza, hepatitis B, measles, meningitis, mumps, pertussis, poliomyelitis, rubella, tetanus, tuberculosis, smallpox, and yellow fever. They cite a host of reasons for their opposition, such as—
- the vaccines are experimental,
- they alter a person’s DNA,
- they use a live version of the coronavirus,
- they contain a chip, or cause recipients to become magnetic, and
- they cause fertility problems.
In fact, the virus that causes Covid-19 is related to other coronaviruses that have been studied for years, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). They were not developed quickly.
According to the US Center for Disease Control, none of the vaccines interact with anyone’s DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid); rather, they help the cells build protection against infection, but never enter the nucleus of the cell where the DNA lives.
None of the authorized vaccines use the live virus that causes Covid-19, and cannot give you the disease or cause you to test positive for an infection. Instead, they train the human body to recognize and fight the coronavirus by delivering a set of instructions to your cells to encourage your body to produce antibodies, or by using a harmless adenovirus that can no longer replicate to send a genetic message to your cells.
Contrary to rumours on social media, the vaccines do not contain metals or materials that produce an electromagnetic field. They are also free from manufactured microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, or nanowire semiconductors, as well as from eggs, gelatin, latex, and preservatives.
According to the CDC, there is no evidence that any inoculations, including the Covid-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men; in fact, vaccination is recommended for people who are breastfeeding, pregnant, or plan to get pregnant in the future.
Contrary to the trolls who perpetuate these myths—falsehoods so many people are duped into believing—virologists and epidemiologists do know how to bring this pandemic under control. Covid-19 is an airborne disease that spreads mainly from person to person when an infected person—even one with no symptoms—emits aerosols when (s)he talks or breathes. These infectious, viral particles float or drift in the air for up to three hours or more, allowing another person to breathe them in and become infected.
According to Harvard Medical School authorities and other experts, necessary steps to control the spread include—
- getting vaccinated and boosted,
- avoiding close contact with people who are infected,
- wearing a properly-fitted face mask when in public indoor spaces,
- avoiding large gatherings, even outdoors, especially if poorly-ventilated,
- isolating if sick,
- testing frequently if unavoidably in congregant settings, in order to prevent spread to others, and
- engaging in contact-tracing efforts.
It is mind-boggling to me that so many of us wilfully ignore this informed advice from medical experts in favour of opinions from quacks and trolls. Since 2019, we have been through four successive waves of Covid-19, each version morphing from its predecessor, yet many of us continue to resist the best medical advice in favour of others’ quackery.
My parents taught me early about the futility of doing the same things over and over again in any endeavour, and hoping for a different result. They also taught me to listen to those who are knowledgeable, as opposed to those who are merely loud, to weigh what they are saying, and to make an informed decision based, not on emotion, but on logic and empirical evidence.
Alas, so many seem doomed to spend one endless Covid-19 Groundhog Day after another, wallowing in their own ignorance. And that hurts all of us.