Worrying won’t help: why we should keep coronavirus in perspective

The most annoying question news anchors ask their correspondents is: “How worried should we be?” Not just because worry is hard to quantify (“er, very”?); not just because it’s a leading question.

But because the answer should always be: “We shouldn’t worry at all. Worry is pointless. There is bound to be something better that we can do.”

Indeed, psychotherapists might go on to say that if we are eaten up with worry, we should ask ourselves about the worrisome thoughts we are having: are they actually true? And are they helpful to us? If the answer to either is no, then worry is not serving us well.

However serious a threat coronavirus poses, it’s important to retain perspective. More people die of tuberculosis each day – and of air pollution every five hours – than have succumbed in two months of Covid-19.

If that game of morbid calculus is not exactly reassuring then try this: the vast majority of people who have had the illness have recovered. Children seem to be largely untouched. A vaccine is in the (admittedly fairly long) pipeline. We know where the illness came from, and the situation in that country is improving. The vast majority of cases are asymptomatic. You can kill it with antiseptic spray; science is all over it; clinical trials are under way.

This is not to minimise what has happened, or predict what will. It is merely to keep a sense of proportion about coronavirus. There is no point succumbing to a fear pandemic before a disease pandemic has even taken hold. And besides, there have been a number of silver linings. Experts are back. Emissions are down. Personal hygiene has had a much needed overhaul

Otherwise, this week was all about Europe. Our post-Brexit Upside declaration is that the UK may be leaving Europe but the Guardian is not. We are doubling down on European journalism, trying to get under the skin of issues that affect the whole continent – and, yes, hunting down solutions. Already this week we had:

Farming under coloured lights in Wageningen, Netherlands



Farmed out. Photograph: Judith Jockel/The Guardian
  • The European capitals of culture you may not have heard of. Two-minute read.

Lucky numbers

Citizens of Luxembourg are set to save around €100 per household on average a year as a result of a new move to make public transport free. Madrid is also experimenting with free, electric buses.

Germany meanwhile set a new record for renewable electricity generation in February, when 61% of all power came from wind, solar and other green energy forms.

Also, employment grew in 87% of Europe’s 240 regions in 2018, according to latest statistics.

What we liked

“Suddenly, facts matter.” Anne Applebaum is brilliant here on the heroes (and villains) of coronavirus.

Bristol University is teaching students science-based strategies for living happier lives.

And Kazakh female chess players are outperforming men – and inspiring a chess boom.

What we heard

Readers were complimentary about our new Europe démarche.

It certainly resonated with Prof Isabella Lazzarini, who lives in Edinburgh, but works in Italy.


Thanks to the Guardian, for your renovated stance towards Europe, as for your engagement for a journalism without fear and without borders. I’m Italian, I live in Edinburgh and work in Italy: since November 2017, I’m also British. In such a multiple – and sadly divided – identity, I’m proud of being a Guardian reader.

Brian Milne meanwhile wrote in from France to explain the effect that our new commitment had on him.


I saw something, clicked and followed, read the editorial, joined. There was no question about thinking about it. This decision by the Guardian to have this new site was an inspired moment for me; the choice between yes and yes.

While up in Schleswig-Holstein, in northernmost Germany, Andrew Craston was also pleased.


Today I am simply writing to you to say a heartfelt thank you for your commitment to Europe and the launch of the dedicated Europe section. The Guardian is my first port of call every morning and I am glad that I can support the Guardian’s free and impartial journalism through my modest partner/membership fee.

And finally, Jacques Roos wrote in from France.


I am French and a daily reader of the Guardian which I consider the very best news organisation I know of, not only on UK issues but also on worldwide issues. I was and I am terribly upset by Brexit. I am afraid it will loosen relations with many British people despite the fact they were “remainers”.

Your decision to be a European news organisation will greatly help to keep these relations alive despite the populist soundbites emanating from British gutter press and some political leaders.

It also will allow many European readers of the Guardian but also British readers to keep on benefiting of your analyses and investigations regarding achievements and difficulties of EU.

And maybe, it could help so that one day, in the future, the UK would decide to join back this fantastic endeavour of building European Union, far away from its old history of conflicts and wars.

Where was the Upside?

In the trees – in particular the ones our readers singled out as the specimens that changed their lives.

Horse chestnut tree



That old horse chestnut. Photograph: Provided by Gillian Hughes

Homework time: what do you make of This is Europe? Reply here. Would you like to receive its weekly email? You can do so here. What do you think of the way news media is covering coronavirus? Let us know here. Many thanks and have a good weekend.

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