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Coronavirus: what next?

Summary:
Today we probably have 18000 people known to be infected with coronavirus globally.  The death rate from this virus is between 2% and 14%.  The higher figure has been mooted because 95% of those hospitalised have not yet recovered or died. Don't believe the higher figure, its just the absolutely scariest possibility.  Lets guess at 2-4%.  This could mean as many as 0.5-2.5 million deaths in the UK.  Should we worry?It is looking increasingly unlikely that the virus will be contained because there are already cases in India. Our best hope in the longer term is for drugs or a vaccine.  Drugs that ameliorate the disease are being trialled and work on a vaccine is under way but vaccinations take about a year to be developed.Given that this is a disease that could cause huge numbers of deaths

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Today we probably have 18000 people known to be infected with coronavirus globally.  The death rate from this virus is between 2% and 14%.  The higher figure has been mooted because 95% of those hospitalised have not yet recovered or died. Don't believe the higher figure, its just the absolutely scariest possibility.  Lets guess at 2-4%.  This could mean as many as 0.5-2.5 million deaths in the UK.  Should we worry?

It is looking increasingly unlikely that the virus will be contained because there are already cases in India. Our best hope in the longer term is for drugs or a vaccine.  Drugs that ameliorate the disease are being trialled and work on a vaccine is under way but vaccinations take about a year to be developed.

Given that this is a disease that could cause huge numbers of deaths over the next year yet be curable in two years time it is essential that the next year is managed as well as possible.

We should pour resources into treatment regimes, vaccine production and drug therapies.  A £100m would be a good investment and we should cheer if the expenditure turns out not to have been needed.  We need to recruit sufficient disease control staff to track contacts of victims and contacts of all travellers if a pandemic occurs.  If there is a pandemic that seems to be getting out of control we should double down on contact chasing and isolation and never give up.  Within a year there will be a cure so almost all deaths will be due to a failure of disease control.  The government undoubtedly has plans for sealing off affected areas and cutting international and domestic travel to the bare minimum in the event of a pandemic.  If they have been so negligent as to not have made such plans they must make them now.  As the Chinese have discovered, emergency hospital facilities are crucial and should be planned immediately.

It is still possible that the disease will not become pandemic.  All eyes should be on places like India, Africa and Central America, the moment any of these get an epidemic the pandemic has begun.

Some might say we have seen all this before with the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak which killed around 3% of the global population. True, and we can stop such a catastrophe being repeated in 2020 in the UK.

7/2/2020

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