The “Schrodinger Virus” is a term that’s been floating around the internet as of late. It’s hugely relevant in our world today because understanding the Schrodinger Virus entails knowing how to be proactive when responding to COVID-19. It also measures how effective governments have been in the decisions that they make. Rules that understand the Schrodinger Virus tend to be more effective because they fully understand the situation.
Currently, many governments such as the UAE, Italy, and India, are shutting down their nations and enforcing lockdowns. For the most part, these lockdowns force citizens to stay at home, with only ‘essential’ workers on duty. The graph below illustrates just how important it is that countries go on lockdown:
COVID-19 has a fourteen-day incubation period. This means that if you are infected, it will be around two weeks before you begin showing any symptoms. Unaware of this sickness, you likely went about your daily life taking no preventive measures, possibly infecting everyone you’d met.
Schrodinger’s cat is a thought experiment. In the experiment, a cat is left in a box with a hammer, a vial of poison, a radioactive substance, and a Geiger counter. The Geiger counter measures radiation; once the radioactive substance decays, the Geiger will notice the change in radiation and trigger the hammer to smash the vial of poison which then kills the cat. However, it is unknown if the cat is dead—we don’t know when the vial will be smashed. This is because radioactive decay is a random process that could happen at any time. Because of the uncertainty of the cat’s fate, future predictions have to consider that the cat is both alive and dead. Only by considering all possibilities can you be correct. After all, until the box is opened, there is no certainty to whether the cat is dead or alive. If you assume one state, there is a high chance that you are wrong. On the other hand, by considering both states, you can accurately predict all possibilities.
When applied to the COVID-19, we realize how important the lockdown is. After all, it operates by assuming that everyone is affected. By keeping people apart, you are preventing the spread of the virus. But to this day, several countries have not yet enforced these measures.
What people have to understand is that in this scenario, they are the scientist and their body is the cat. There is a shortage of COVID-19 tests, and there isn’t enough to accommodate everyone. As such, they cannot open the proverbial ‘box’—they are unable to get tested. Similarly to how it is uncertain if the cat is alive or dead, they do not know if they are infected or not.
What’s important is that people who are untested act like they both have the virus and that they don’t. They have to act like they do have the virus so that they don’t infect anybody else. They must take preventive measures and quarantine themselves. But they must also act like they don’t have the virus. Why? Because if they don’t have it, they don’t have immunity. For this, they must act both infected and not infected.
When COVID-19 first became a problem, it became clear that the young, the old, and the weak were most at risk. People who didn’t fit into these categories assumed a carefree attitude. After all, why would restrictions apply to them when they faced a lower risk of severe illness?
Another thing that must be understood is that even if you don’t express symptoms, there is a high chance that you are a carrier. If you have the virus, you might not be severely affected. However, the same can’t be said about the people you pass it on to— those who could be high risk and will likely face worse consequences. During such a pandemic, you cannot consider only yourself, but the people around you as well.
Hospitals are also facing the danger of being overrun. Viruses spread quickly, and too many patients can result in subpar treatments being offered to patients. By controlling the spread of the virus, hospitals will be in a better position to accommodate more cases. But we should do our part—as we continue to wait for a cure, we must do as much as we can to stay healthy.
The science shows that lockdowns work because they assume all possibilities. Governments put measures such as wearing gloves and masks because they assume that nobody is sick and they need to be careful. They also assume that everyone is sick by putting them in quasi- quarantine and preventing the gathering of people in heavily populated places. By assuming that everyone has and does not have the virus, governments are in the best place to recover financially and socially from this pandemic. Failing to consider all possibilities results in wrong predictions and higher death rates.