Plague?

This is far from my area of expertise, but I am following the spread of the Coronavirus with concern. It has already killed over 50 80 106 people in China, forced them to shut down a city of 11 million people (Wuhan); and now there are three five cases in the U.S., three in France, almost 2,000 more than 2,700 confirmed cases in China (more than 4,500 on Tuesday, 28 Jan.), more than 40 confirmed cases outside of China in 13 places (more than 70 confirmed cases in 17 places on Tuesday, 28 Jan.). They say nearly 60 million people in China are on partial or full lock down in multiple cities. What we know

This is tragic but the worse may yet to come. The human toll is going to tragically get worse. The virus apparently can spread before symptoms show. One wonders how bad it is going to be before it is contained.

There could also be a significant economic cost. Considering that nearly 60 million people are on partial or full lock down….what does this do to production and work? As the virus spread, what is the economic cost? One can envision a scenario where Chinese economy stalls or declines and there is criticism of the government response (which is almost inevitable if this continues to expand). Does this created additional unrest or internal problems in China? Does this further impact the Chinese economy? Would a decline of the Chinese economy (which is 16% of the world economy) result in a stalling or decline of many other economies in the world? One could spin out a downward scenario here.

Don’t want to be alarmist, but this does concern me. We have not had a major world-wide “plague”  since the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1920. According to some accounts it affected up to 500 million people and killed 50 million or more. More recently was SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) from 2002-2004. This came out of China, transferred to humans from bats in Yunnan province. It produced 8,098 documented cases resulting in 774 deaths in 17 countries. It was completely contained and no new cases have been reported since 2004. There has also been MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) or the “Camel flu” from 2012 to the present which has affected almost 2,000 people with a mortality rate of 36% among those diagnosed! It was not just confined to the Middle East with an outbreak in South Korea in 2015 that killed 36. There may be a large number of milder undiagnosed cases. This disease is still not contained.

The Coronavirus will hopefully be contained soon like SARS was, but the scenarios are frightening if it is not.

 

 

P.S. In the news Monday morning: Dow falls more than 400 points as the coronavirus outbreak worsens

 

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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2 Comments

  1. It has a slow gestation period which can make it look like it is moving in slow motion, but makes it very hard to contain.

    AIDS, another pandemic disease with a long gestation period has killed something approaching 40 million people since 1981 and isn’t necessarily done yet. And AIDS is a much easier disease to stop (well really slow down) its spread.

    I believe the Spanish Influenza had three major waves that swept around the world, with the second one being where the disease increased its deadliness.

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