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Must there be a “war” against coronavirus?

Pallavi Rohela, Anant Bhan , Divya Ravindranath , Devi Leena Bose, Soumitra Pathare

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2020.070


The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is marked not only by rapid spread of the causative virus, SARS CoV-2, but also by the spread of war-like narratives. Leaders of different countries have compared the pandemic response to being at war.
In this argument paper, the authors take the stance that frequent public pronouncements of metaphors of war do more harm than good, especially when they percolate through the societal psyche and the healthcare system. We describe how the narrative of war has further dented social cohesion, an important social determinant of health, and created a rift in the healthcare system at a time of immense crisis. We express concern that such systemic instability threatens to drive a deeper wedge into the already precarious physician-patient relationship, while also putting the future of medicine at stake. Finally, we provide alternative metaphors for use in the communication strategy. The suggested metaphors are gentler, drawn from sports and ecology, and emphasize the need for cooperation and solidarity at multiple levels.
Keywords: Covid-19, war metaphor, stigmatisation, social cohesion, physician-patient relationship

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