How the Coronavirus is the Perfect Storm for the U.S.

Today The Washington Post’s Amy Goldstein asked, ‘Worries about medical bills and lost pay may hamper coronavirus efforts in the United States‘. She writes,

The race to curb the spread of the new coronavirus could be thwarted by Americans fearful of big medical bills if they get tested, low-income workers who lose pay if they take time off when sick, and similar dilemmas that leave the United States more vulnerable to the epidemic than countries with universal health coverage and sturdier safety nets.

This isn’t a potential issue, it will pressure many of the millions of uninsured, poor, or income dependent Americans directly to work until they literally are unable to function. Many of those people will become so called super spreaders, transmitting the illness.

It will play out in Realtime on National Television

And if the illness progresses to a severe stage, people will try to ride it out alone at home, without seeking hospitalization, without consultation. Additional this will skew official track records of the epidemic magnitude, thwart efforts to identify contamination, infections.

At the same time the government will continue to enact quarantine, to try to slow the amount of infections, to give hospitals and the government time to adapt. But this also means that work places will be affected, that things are put on hold, delayed.

Harvard Business Review: We predict that the peak of the impact of Covid-19 on global supply chains will occur in mid-March, forcing thousands of companies to throttle down or temporarily shut assembly and manufacturing plants in the U.S. and Europe. The most vulnerable companies are those which rely heavily or solely on factories in China for parts and materials. The activity of Chinese manufacturing plants has fallen in the past month and is expected to remain depressed for months.

Thus, the potential combination of hidden patients which are forced to go to work in order to pay rent or eat, affected industries dialing down activities, and the meaningful measures to slow the disease vectors from spreading, create a perfect storm recipe for a long lasting lingering situation, stunting not only economical growths but also public life as we knew it.


Though, some appear to have understood what is at stake here, New York’s Governor just announced free access to testing and treatment.

While others confuse the flu with a novel agent.

Trump also suggested to rush to a vaccine, yet development of a vaccine is a very delicate process usually taking years.

SCMP: But some scientists said that timeline could be too ambitious as it was a complicated process to prove the safety and efficacy of a vaccine.

“Making a vaccine isn’t a simple process – first there needs to be a ‘candidate’ vaccine, with an appropriate manufacturing quality. This is then tested in animals to see if it seems to work,” said Allen Cheng, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at Monash University in Australia.

“Then there need to be tests in humans to see that it elicits an immune system response, and to define the dose, then it needs to be tested in proper trials to see if it actually protects against infection and doesn’t cause side effects,” he said.

“Then it needs to be approved by regulators, and manufactured at scale, purchased by governments and deployed. This would usually take 10 years at a minimum. Even if everything goes perfectly … I would expect this would at least take a few years.”

One recent rush of pharmaceutical companies to provide a vaccine, was back in 2009, and subsequently the majority of the vaccine’s were destroyed because the then emerging 2009 H1N1 influenza vanished.

CDC: An increased risk of narcolepsy was found following vaccination with Pandemrix, a monovalent 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine that was used in several European countries during the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally.

The take away here is that the world now needs to slow the progression of the new novel coronavirus, learn to understand it better, and hope that we will not end up with a situation where this new strain is becoming an everyday, or every winter experience for many.

And yes there are also parallels on how we prepare for climate change, we also need to slow the rate, and even have to try and stop it. This is why it is critical to have people in charge which make decisions on the best science we have, not on a stomach feel, or opinion.


Teaser image via, Johns Hopkins CSSE

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