Friday, April 17, 2020

Coronavirus - Where the world will head?

It is not the world that has not seen pandemics in the past. There are many variations of SARS including the current COVID19 in the recent past also. There is a history of Spanish flu that went contagious all over the world and is the one to which the parallel is being drawn with the current Covid19 pandemic. Spanish flu has a devastating effect all over the world. It infected about 500 million people in the world, one-fourth of the population of the world. A rough estimate is that around 50 million died. The flu came at the fag end of world war one and was carried all over the world by soldiers going back to their respective countries. This time it's no different as Wuhan is a big economic hub in China and the virus is taken back by all the visitors. The difference is in Spanish flu people returned back by ships. In the current scenario, people travel by plane. A journey that might take a month would just take a couple of hours. The spread has been very fast and we still probably seeing the tip of the iceberg. An estimate says that it will eventually affect 80% of the world population. Even a 5% death rate would be 250 million people. The human race is not in a very good place now.

The biggest concern is that we still have no cure for it and we don't know how it is going to end. It is also not conclusively known that once someone becomes Corona positive and recovers, will it infect again. There are questions and just questions. How it will end is a billion-dollar question. Pharmaceutical companies and researchers are trying to figure out a vaccine but no one is near to it. The best-case scenario is at least 6 months to 1 year. Let's see how the world will turn based on different outcomes 
  • We get a vaccine. Hurray.  Most probably the vaccine will be open-sourced or the one finding it will be putting it in the public domain at a very small price. There will a race between people getting infected and the vaccine is manufactured. It will also be a function of how complex the vaccine is going to be. Developed countries will definitely have an advantage in procuring them earlier and faster than developing countries. However, we will still see a subdued activity for a long long time to come. People are not going to venture out. The travel and entertainment industry will remain subdued and this is going to be a common scenario for a long long time to come. Online businesses will grow but then everyone will become online. 
  • We don't get a vaccine. This will lead to an interplay of locking down cities. Then when the situation becomes better the lockdown will be lifted to revive the economy. The cat and mouse game will continue. If the infection can recur then we are going to be in the same mode again and again. The lower class of the society will bear the collateral damage. They will more die of hunger than of the virus. A lot of people will shift toward poverty.  The better of the lot will be farmers living in villages. At least they will be able to feed themselves. Cities will slowly turn into graveyards. It looks scary but can be a possibility. Social distancing will only push the curve further but it will not solve it.
Is there a way out? It does not seem now. A lot of people will though shift to smaller cities and villages where social distancing is easier to maintain. We might go back to the same old world of slow and satisfied living but might achieve that by paying a big price.

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