Coronavirus: What happens next?
COVID-19 (or SARS-CoV2) has caught the world off guard. Many people are extremely anxious about what the future looks like under this global pandemic and this has lead to a lot of irrational responses. Panic buying of toilet paper and other groceries has left many feeling like the world may be coming to an end. Well, is it?
To help calm the nerves of many who may be feeling anxious about this situation I want to analyse what might happen because of this virus. I want to look at the numbers and see what the future may look like under this Virus. For all disclosure, I'm not an expert. I will do my best to give links to the most accurate information I can find but this is a developing situation and things can change.
The Current Numbers
First, it should be noted that COVID-19 is not the first coronavirus. There have been a total of seven different types of coronavirus with some of them being quite common. SARS and MERS were both types of coronaviruses. According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), COVID-19 is just the latest of these coronaviruses. However, it is important to know that this latest strand is different in a lot of regards. As of when I am writing this there are just over 220,000 confirmed cases and just under 9,000 deaths. To see what the numbers are now, click on this link: (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/)
As you can see from this graph those numbers are expected to grow quite a bit. The Incubation period (the amount of time between when someone is infected to when they start showing symptoms) is 2-14 days. The R0 (Transmission rate or how many people will 1 individual infect) was initially estimated to be between 1.4 - 2.5. However, there are other studies that say that the number is actually bigger at 2.24 - 3.58.
Lastly, the mortality rate was initially assessed at 2% globally. However, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has reassessed that number to be 3.4% as of March 3.
The death rate according to age has been significant.
0-9 years of age have no recorded fatalities
10-39 years is a 0.2% fatality rate
40-49 years is a 0.4% fatality rate
50-59 years is a 1.3% fatality rate
60-69 years is a 3.6% fatality rate
70-79 years is an 8.0% fatality rate
80+ years is a 14.8% fatality rate.
What's going to happen going forward?
COVID-19 is less deadly than SARS (9.6%) or MERS (34%) but has a similar R0 and incubation time. It's more deadly and more infectious than the 1918 Spanish Flu which had infected around 27% of the world's population and killed 17-50 million globally and had an R0 rate of 1.47-2.27)
What could happen with the COVID-19? The confirmed cases we know now is under-reported. This is due to the large incubation period and the problems around the world with testing. With the R0 rate being around 2.5 I think the more likely numbers we have now is around half a million people being infected.
Currently, the largest growth areas of the Virus are in Europe with Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland all in the top ten for most cases today. The United States is also growing rapidly, being on track to hit a total of 100,000 cases by the start of April. Australia also seems to be growing quickly with little sign of slowing down.
China, South Korea and other countries in Asia are starting to slow down and actually see more people recovering than getting sick.
It seems that the best-case scenario is that we hit around 1 million cases globally with about 45,000 deaths and start to plateau out with more people recovering than getting sick. However, this is unlikely to be the case. We don't know if this is just going to be the first of multiple waves. Many experts have warned that this temporary easing in Asia could just be the calm before another storm with Forbes reporting that people can get re-infected with COVID-19 again.
The most likely scenario is that we start to see similar numbers to the 1918 Spanish flu. The CDC is projecting that anywhere between 50 - 65% of Americans could be infected by COVID-19. Europe is on track to see similar numbers with some countries like the UK expected to see much higher numbers due to their 'herd immunity' strategy which they only recently started to go back on. Australia could see similar numbers because of its slow response to the pandemic and its strategy of keeping schools open. Africa hasn't been getting the Virus as much as the rest of the world so it's hard to see what will happen there as it is still early days. Asia is starting to slow down but the risks of a second wave could bring the numbers much higher than what they are now.
However, let's say that COVID-19 infects 27% of the world as the Spanish Flu did. This will result in 2.1 billion cases and around 71.4 million deaths worldwide (if the fatality rate remains at 3.4%).
One of the main areas of concern for many workers, business owners and (of course) politicians around the world is the effect this pandemic will have on the economy. The first question is, will this cause a global recession? Some places will definitely have a recession because of this pandemic. Europe was already heading towards a recession with Germany, France and Italy having either shrinking or stalling economies before the virus hit them. They will be enough to bring the rest of Europe into a recession. The US is a bit more uncertain. They have had the record-breaking periods of growth over the last 11 years and some experts think that this pandemic will only slow that growth without causing two-quarters of contraction. However, other experts say that the US could be headed towards a recession. The stock markets in the US seem to indicate that their economy is heading towards a recession with some of the worst days recorded in decades. Australia also seems to be heading towards its first recession since 1991 Times magazine is suggesting.
China, however, may not be as severely impacted as the rest of the world. While they are expected to have their first quarter of contraction in decades, they are recovering very quickly from this pandemic and could reopen their economy in a few weeks. Plus, the Chinese Government will probably do everything it can to support its economy from going into a recession.
So, it does seem like there will be a global recession because of COVID-19 but it's difficult to say how severe and how long it will be.
What should we do?
1. The best thing we can do is to follow the advice of our governments. While we may disagree with the politics of those running our country, we have to unify at this time and follow the instructions given to us to help curb the effects of this virus. Our short term pain will make everything much better in the long term. Wash your hands, avoid direct contact with others, keep 2m distance from others when possible, stay home if you feel sick.
2. We should also use this time to put a plan in place in case something like this happens again. By being better prepared for the next time there will be less need to panic.
3. Use this opportunity to connect with others (online rather than in person). Many will soon be in quarantine and this will be a good opportunity to catch up and start building some better friendships with those you may not get much of a chance to talk to normally.
4. Lastly, this is a good time to reflect on your own life. Death is going to be much more prevalent in our lives with this virus. Use this time to reassess your life and what you are doing. Change the things you aren't happy with and make some more time for the things that are more fulfilling.
God Bless and I hope that you will remain safe during these troubling times. You will be in my prayers.