In the three centuries when bubonic plague swept across Europe, no one understood that the disease was carried by fleas and rats. Many people died; some became ill but recovered; some never became ill at all. These apparently random events made no sense, and so people resorted to superstition, mysticism, bigotry, and hysteria.
How little has changed since then.
Despite modern science and medicine, we don’t understand why some people suffer serious illness or death from COVID-19, while others experience only mild symptoms, or none at all; why some may escape entirely; why some suffer long-term disability after surviving the acute phase of the disease. Popular responses to this fear and confusion are often medieval in their embrace of irrationality and superstition and pseudoscience.
Humans seek clear, simple answers to their questions. They do not respond well to uncertainty and ambiguity. Plagues kill, but the suffering is compounded by our determination to arrive at an answer in the face of contradictory or incomplete evidence. As uncomfortable as it may be, we will be better off acknowledging that we don’t know, and acting accordingly.