ALIEN: Greetings, Earthling, take me to your leader and then show me the delights of your planet!
Me: I can’t right now. We’re not allowed to travel much.
Alien: Why on earth not? Have I arrived in North Korea?
Me: Not quite, no – or at least not just yet. There’s a pandemic on.
Alien: Gadzooks! That sounds terrible. Are lots of people dying?
Me: Not at the moment. The daily death toll is often in single figures and recently hit zero.
Alien: That doesn’t sound particularly terrifying to me. What’s the average death rate?
Me: On average, it’s about 14 deaths per day.
Alien: And how many people die every day in your country?
Me: Approximately 1,650 – but if they didn’t it would get a bit crowded.
Alien: So this pandemic of yours accounts for 0.8 per cent of daily deaths, with over 99 per cent dying of other causes?
Me: That’s right.
Alien: Hmmm. I guess there must have been a bloodbath back in April then?
Me: Actually, in April and in May 2021 the UK recorded the lowest mortality figures since records began. The death rate has been well below the five-year average for the last three months and counting. I believe that there are currently more hospitals in the UK than there are pandemic patients.
Alien: What’s the situation like in the rest of Europe?
Me: According to Euromomo, they are all recording ‘no excess deaths’, with the exception of Belgium and Spain.
Alien: What’s happening in Belgium and Spain? Has everyone expired? Is there a biblical apocalypse going on over there?
Me: Not exactly. They are both experiencing ‘low excess deaths’ instead.
Alien: So in other words the virus vanished from Europe back in February? Like most respiratory infections, this is a seasonal virus? It disappears in the spring and summer weather?
Me: That’s right – anyone who can read a ‘daily deaths’ graph could tell you that. The death curve is as flat as a pancake and has been for several months. In other words, the sombrero has been well and truly squashed!
Alien: ?!?!? What was that bit about a flattened sombrero? Did my spacecraft land on one and do some damage? I didn’t realise we’d touched down in Mexico.
Me: No, no, don’t worry. I was just pointing out that here in the UK, and indeed across Europe as far as I can tell, nobody’s dying with the virus at the moment – and they haven’t been for several months. But somehow nobody seems to have noticed. The same thing happened last summer, as it happens, but most people seem to have forgotten about that already.
Alien: Hmmm. Remind me again why you’re not allowed to travel?
Me: Because there’s a pandemic on.
Alien: I’m not sure I need to see your leader after all. It was signs of intelligent life we were looking for. This prattling on about sombreros has left me particularly baffled. It looks like the search continues . . .
Me: Can you drop me off in Florida on your way out please? They’ve been fully open since September and just held a massive ‘Freedom over Faucism’ concert.
Both: Rock on!