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I’ve been posting regularly on the progress of the COVID-19 epidemic in Western Europe and the US, so I have the data readily available. Today, David Foster has a post, In a Time of Widespread Craziness, reporting that some people are burning down 5G towers in the apparent belief that 5G causes coronavirus. David was quite dismissive of this hypothesis but did not offer any empirical support.
Fortunately, I have the data available. According to this report from February 2020, 5G is commercially available in the following Western European countries: Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. So I analyzed my data on COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 population for the month of March 2020, based on the commercial availability of 5G service in Western Europe. The countries in which 5G is not available are Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal. I grouped countries based on the availability of 5G service (as usual, starting each trend line when the region passed 0.05 deaths per 100,000). Here is the result:
It’s not a huge difference, but it is quite noticeable. By the way, the inclusion of Germany in the 5G group probably skews the result. It is technically one of the 5G countries, but coverage seems pretty spotty. I think that this warrants further study.
The 5G hypothesis got me thinking. Who gave us 5G, anyway?
I’m actually not sure. But I do remember who gave us the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health. That’s right — the Romans!
In a crisis like the present, it is important to think outside the box. So I have a new hypothesis. The Western Roman Empire gave us COVID-19.
To explore this hypothesis, I classified the Western European countries by their historical inclusion in the Roman Empire. The frontiers don’t match up precisely, but for the sake of analysis, I grouped together the following former Roman provinces: the UK, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. The non-Roman regions are Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Ireland.
For the sake of those who are not scholars of ancient Rome, I’ve used the modern names. The Roman provinces and regions included are Italia, Hispania, Gallia, Brittania, Belgica, Germania (Inferior and Superior), Raetia, Noricum, Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicilia. (These are the names prevailing under the rule of Hadrian, circa 125 CE, though in some instances I have combined provinces under a regional name, e.g., Gallia collectively, rather than Aquitania, Lugdunensis, and Narbonensis.)
To avoid confusion, it is important to understand the Germania Inferior and Germania Superior are not part of modern Germany. Germania Inferior roughly corresponds to the southern portion of the Netherlands and northern Belgium, and Germania Superior is roughly equivalent to modern Alsace in France. Which is not part of Germany, though it was between 1870 and 1918
1914. That darned Bismarck and the Hohenzollerns. Actually, there is no such country as Germany. The country is Deutschland. It is only the lingering effects of Roman oppression in the former Britannia that results in our English usage of this Latin-derived name. Or maybe it’s a result of the Norman Conquest. That darned William.
But I digress. Where was I? Oh, yeah, whether the Romans caused COVID-19. Back to the analysis. I included the US as a comparison. (For those of you who aren’t scholars of ancient Rome, the US was never part of the Roman Empire.)
The results were startling:
This seems much more plausible than the 5G hypothesis. Numbers don’t lie.
Romanes eunt domus! For those of you who are not scholars of ancient Rome, that means Romans go home!
No, wait. Let me check with John Cleese. Maybe it’s Romani ite domum.
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