Easily overlooked issues regarding COVID-19

We read a lot in the news about the new Wuhan coronavirus and the illness it causes (COVID-19), but some important points often get left out.

[1] COVID-19 is incredibly contagious.

COVID-19 transmits extremely easily from person to person. Interpersonal contact doesn’t need to be very long; a taxi driver can get the virus from a passenger, for example. The virus may be transmissible even before an infected person develops symptoms. It may also be transmissible for a few days after a person seems to be over the virus; it is possible to get positive virus tests, even after symptoms disappear. Some people may have the disease, but never show symptoms.

[2] The virus likely remains active on inanimate surfaces such as paper, plastic, or metal for many days.

There haven’t been tests on the COVID-19 virus per se, but studies on similar viruses suggest that human pathogens may remain infectious for up to eight days. Some viruses that only infect animals can survive for more than 28 days. China is reported to be destroying paper currency from the hardest hit area, because people do not want to accept money which may have viruses on it. Clearly, surfaces in airplanes, trains and buses may also harbor viruses, long after a passenger with the virus has left, unless they have been thoroughly wiped down with disinfectant.

[3] Given Issues [1] and [2], about the only way to avoid spreading COVID-19 seems to be geographic isolation. 

With all of today’s travel, geographic isolation doesn’t work very well in practice. People need food and medical supplies. They need to keep basic services such as electricity and garbage collection operating. Suppliers of food and other services need to come and leave the area and that tends to spread COVID-19. Also, the longer a geographic area is isolated, the larger the percentage of the people within the area that is likely to get COVID-19. The problem is that the people need to have contact with others in the area for purposes such as buying food, and that tends to spread the disease.

[4] The real story regarding the number of deaths and illnesses seems to be far worse than the story China is telling its own people and the world.

The real story seems to be that the number of deaths is far greater than the number reported–perhaps 10 times as high as being reported. The number of illnesses is also much higher. At one point, facilities doing cremations in the Wuhan area were reported to be doing four to five times the normal number of cremations. Some of the bodies in the Wuhan area now need to be sent to other areas of China because there is not enough local cremation capacity.

China doesn’t dare tell its people how bad the situation really is, for fear of panic. They want to tell a story of being in control and handling the situation well. The news media in the West repeat the stories that the government-controlled publications of China provide, even though they seem to present a much more favorable situation than really seems to be the case.

[5] Our ability to identify who has the new coronavirus is poor.

While there is a test for the coronavirus, it costs hundreds of dollars to administer. Even with this high cost, the results of the tests aren’t very reliable. The test tends to produce many false negatives. The virus may be present somewhere inside the person being tested, but not in the areas touched by swabs of the throat and nose.

[6] Some people get much more severe symptoms from COVID-19 than others.

Most people, perhaps 80% of people, seem to get a fairly light form of the COVID-19 illness. Groups that seem particularly prone to adverse outcomes include the elderly, smokers, those who are obese, and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or poor immune systems. Males seem to have worse outcomes than females.

Strangely enough, there is speculation that people with East Asian ancestry (Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese) may have a higher risk of adverse outcomes than those of European or African ancestry. One of the things that is targeted by the disease is the ACE2 receptor. The 1000 Genome Project studied expected differences in ACE2 receptors among various groups. Based on this analysis, some researchers (in non-peer-reviewed studies, here and here) predict that those of European or African ancestry will tend to get lighter forms of the disease. These findings are contested in another, non-peer-reviewed study.

Bolstering the view that East Asians are more susceptible to viruses that target the ACE2 receptor is the fact that SARS, which also tends to target the ACE2 receptor, tended to stay primarily in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. While there were cases elsewhere, they tended to have few deaths.

Observational data with respect to COVID-19 is needed to determine whether there truly is a difference in the severity of the illness among different populations.

[7] China has been using geographical quarantine to try to hold down the number of COVID-19 cases. The danger with such a quarantine is that once the economy is down, it is very difficult to come back to the pre-quarantine state.

Data shows that China’s economy is not reopening quickly after the extended New Year holiday finished.

Figure 2. China daily passenger flows, relative to Chinese New Year. Amounts are now down more than 80% and have not increased, even as some businesses are theoretically reopening. Chart by ANZ, copied by WSJ Daily Shot Feb. 17, 2020.

Figure 3. China property transactions, before and after Chinese New Year. Chart by Goldman Sachs. Reprinted by WSJ Daily Shot, Feb. 17, 2020.

All businesses will be adversely affected by a lack of sales if they need to continue to pay overhead expenses. Small and medium-sized businesses will be especially adversely affected. Bloomberg reports that if a shutdown lasts for three months, there is a substantial chance that these businesses will run through their savings and fail. Thus, these businesses may be permanently lost if the economy is down for several months.

Also, restarting after a shut-down is more difficult than it might appear. Take, for example, a mother who wants to go back to work. She will likely need:

  • Public transportation to be operating, so she has a way to get to work;
  • School to be open, so she doesn’t need to worry about her child while she is at work;
  • Masks to be available, so that she and her child can comply with requirements to wear them;
  • Stores providing necessities such as food to be open, or she may be too hungry to work

If anything is missing, the mother is likely not to go back to work. Required masks seem to be a problem right now, but other pieces could be missing as well.

Businesses, too, need a full range of workers to restart their operations. If the inspector doing the final inspection is not available, the business may not really be able to ship finished products, even if most of the workers are back.

[8] A shutdown of as little as three months is likely to be damaging to the world economy.

Multiple things are likely to go wrong:

(a) Commodity prices are likely to fall steeply, because of low demand from China. Oil prices, in particular, are likely to fall steeply, perhaps to $30 to $35 per barrel. Besides cutbacks in oil demand from China, there is the issue of a general reduction in long distance travel, because of fear of traveling with other passengers with COVID-19.

(b) US businesses, such as Apple, will find their supply chains broken. They won’t know when, and if, they can ship products.

(c) Debt defaults are likely to become more common, especially in China. The longer the slowdown/shutdown lasts, the greater the extent to which debt defaults are likely to spread around the world.

(d) The world economy is likely to be pushed into recession, without an easy way to get out again.

[9] The longer the shutdown lasts, the more likely there is to be a major collapse of the Chinese economy. 

In the event of a long-term shutdown, it would seem likely that, at a minimum, a new leader would take over. In fact, there would seem to be a significant chance of major changes within the economy. For example, the provinces of China that are able to restart might attempt to restart, leaving the more damaged areas behind. In such a case, instead of having a single Chinese government to deal with, there might be multiple governmental units to deal with.

Each governmental unit might consist of a few provinces trying to provide services such as they are able, without the benefit of the parts of the economy that are still shut down. Each governmental unit might have its own currency. If this should happen, China will be able to provide far fewer goods and services than it has in the recent past.

[10] Planners everywhere have been guilty of “putting too many eggs in one basket.”

Planners today look for efficiency. For example, placing a large share of the world’s industry in China looks like it is an efficient approach. Unfortunately, we are asking for trouble if the Chinese economy hits a bump in the road. Using just-in-time supply lines looks like a good idea as well, but if a major supplier cannot provide parts for a while, then having inventory on hand would have been a better approach.

If we want systems to be sustainable, they really need a lot of redundancy. Redundant systems are not as efficient, but they are much more likely to be sustainable through difficult times. There is a recent article in Nature that talks about this issue. One of the things it says is,

A system with a single cycle is the most unstable because the deletion of any cycle-node or link breaks the sustaining feedback mechanism.

“A system with a single cycle” is basically similar to “putting all of our eggs in one basket.” “Deletion of any cycle-node or link” is something like China running into coronavirus problems. We probably need a world economy that consists of many nearly separate local economies to be certain of long-term world economy stability. Alternatively, we need a great deal of redundancy built into our systems. For example, we need large inventories to work around the possibility of missing contributions from one country, in the case of a problem such as a major epidemic.


The world economy may become very different, simply because of COVID-19. The new virus doesn’t even need to directly affect the rest of the world very much to create a problem. The United States, Europe, and the rest of the world are very much dependent on the continued operation of China. The world economy has effectively put way too many eggs in one basket, and this basket is now not functioning as expected.

If China is barely producing anything for world markets, the rest of the world will suddenly discover that long supply chains weren’t such a good idea. There will be a big scramble to try to fill in the missing pieces of supply chains, but many goods are likely to be less available. We may discover quickly how much we depend upon China for everything from shoes to automobiles to furniture to electronics. World carbon dioxide emissions are likely to fall dramatically because of China’s problems, but will the accompanying issues be ones that the world economy can tolerate?

The thing that is ironic is that it is possible that the West’s fear of the new coronavirus may be overblown–we really won’t know what the impact will be with respect to people of European or of African descent until we have had a better chance to examine how the virus affects different populations. The next few weeks and months are likely to be quite instructive. For example, how will the Americans and Australians who caught COVID-19 on the cruise ships fare? What will the health outcomes be of non-Asians being brought back from Wuhan to their native countries on special planes?


About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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2,589 Responses to Easily overlooked issues regarding COVID-19

  1. Dennis L. says:

    A succinct description of possibly relevant viral research in 2015

    On the other hand in the internet people are asking tough questions about this article written in 2015 by Shi Zhengli top researcher of the Wuhan BSL-4, where he, and others researchers said:

    “Using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system2, we generated and characterized a chimeric virus expressing the spike of bat coronavirus SHC014 in a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone. The results indicate that group 2b viruses encoding the SHC014 spike in a wild-type backbone can efficiently use multiple orthologs of the SARS receptor human angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2), replicate efficiently in primary human airway cells and achieve in vitro titers equivalent to epidemic strains of SARS-CoV. Additionally, in vivo experiments demonstrate replication of the chimeric virus in mouse lung with notable pathogenesis”

    The link to the article = https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.3985

    I did not personally go the linked article, caveat emptor. It does seem to be consistent with what this somewhat educated layman has read in other articles, it is the ACE2 enzyme and thing is pathogenic to the lungs. Nice job guys, my vote is earthlings get together and relocate your laboratory and you to a Martian desert, que desastre.

    Dennis L.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      The first case was Dec 1st, with no connection to the “Wet Market”.
      Unless time machines are involved, the analysis is moot.
      it is the ACE2 enzyme and thing is pathogenic to the lungs.
      You did get that one right!

    • Dennis L. says:

      I failed to credit this, the second, third, and fourth paragraphs were lifted from a comment in Ecosophia, this week’s current edition.

      Dennis L

    • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      thanks, DL…

      “… can efficiently use multiple orthologs of the SARS receptor human angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2), replicate efficiently in primary human airway cells and achieve in vitro titers equivalent to epidemic strains of SARS-CoV.”

      if this is the actual covid19, then it “efficiently” uses multiple ACE2…

      AND replicates “efficiently” in human airway cells…

      AND achieves the equivalent to EPIDEMIC strains of SARS…

      “it is the ACE2 enzyme and thing is pathogenic to the lungs.
      You did get that one right!”

      pathogenic does not sound good…

  2. Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    many cases in North Korea:


    “… 1,300 people suspected of carrying the virus have been quarantined at a hotel in Pyongyang.”

    if true: wow! a deadly game changer for NK…

    NK epidemic far greater than merely 1,300…

    • I would expect poor people with tuberculosis would be very vulnerable to the bad effects of the new virus.

      • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        it’s easy to imagine that quite a few people with respiratory illnesses other than covid19 would be thrown into the hotel also…

        soon to be infected by the real deal…

        • Xabier says:

          And they can also give the Wuhan Flu people their own ordinary version -double infections! Is this the new ‘sharing economy’?

  3. MG says:

    How could we characterise the demise of the human species? I would say that the end of the human species is marked with the loss of the ability to concentrate nutrients and energy. Firstly, the humans delegate this ability to machines, allowing them to increase the population. Then they realize that such activity is too hard, so they prefer playing games and instead of concentrating food end energy they concentrate money, believing in some higher power that will help and save them.

    The religion is often a bilief that something will save the stupid humans from extinction. In the end, the atheism prevails, as the humans realize that there is no such intelligent higher power that favours stupid creatures.

    • Except we really don’t know know. Humans are where they are because of an amazing set of coincidences. This coronavirus outbreak may be a strange way of trimming back human population.

      People have been convinced that they are in charge. This clearly is not the case. The laws of physics are in charge. Somehow, these laws of physics were put in place, perhaps by a Higher Power.

      • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        “… a strange way of trimming back human population.”

        though aren’t famine and disease typical ways in which an overpopulated species has its numbers greatly reduced?

        • Robert Firth says:

          Yes, exactly so:

          “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Revelation vi:8.

          Do viruses count as “beasts of the earth”? I rather think so.

          • Thinkstoomuch says:

            “Do viruses count as “beasts of the earth”? I rather think so.”

            Depends on the reading. I would have thought Pestilence would represent biological threats. Though Conquest is a different reading of Pestilence.


      • Dennis L. says:

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts, we listen carefully and physics, biology and a higher power may well be involved. Our medicine is wonderful and it is to be greatly appreciated and valued, but it may not work for the common good. My mother’s family had 8 children, two died very young, the remaining four sisters and two brothers lived at minimum into their late 80’s and at best came with kissing distance of 100. We were and are Norwegian, when the four sisters were on the farm, Brunhilda would have been proud.

        Some of us are going to make it through this, the supply chains will quickly adjust(now that is sticking my neck out) and produce what is needed and what is needed will be indicated by what people are willing to pay the most for. Making cheese shredders is probably not going to be a good niche for a few years.

        I believe it will be as is should, unfortunately some of us will wish it would have been different, life goes on. You gave advice to enjoy the day, or carpe diem, it was good advice.

        Dennis L.

        • Jason says:

          For someone who wants to enjoy their day and look at the bright side of life you spend a heckuv a lot of time on this site. This is a doomer site. We work hard to keep the mood gloomy and this pandemic is like a free shot of heroin to us. Let us enjoy it.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Gail, if there are Laws, must there not be a Lawgiver? That argument convinced Isaac Newton, who probably knew more about Nature’s laws than any man then living. It convinced William Paley, who argued similarly that Design implied a Designer. I am not convinced of a supernatural higher power, but I do believe there are powers within the Cosmos of which we know nothing, and which do indeed turn the wheel of karma. And perhaps the viruses are an instrument of Fortuna victrix, the fickle goddess celebrated in heroic verse by Seneca in his Agamemnon (who else?).

        • I am struck by the amazing order to the universe and the world we live in. There is much more order to the universe than humans are able to imagine. Someone/something seems to make this possible. People imagine that they can impose new order upon this system, but they cannot really. The Power behind this order is really in control; we humans are not in charge.

          • Robert Firth says:

            For you, Gail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrEraKffwYQ.

            The words are byJoseph Addison (1672 to 1719). There were two incidents in my childhood that impelled me to become a scientist. The first was reading Max Born’s “The Restless Universe” (at the age of 9, what a revelation). And the second was when I heard this hymn.

        • Malcopian says:

          “Fortuna victrix, the fickle goddess”

          Same one?

          • Robert Firth says:

            Yes, the same one. For some reason, the pagan goddess Fortuna (or Tyche in Greece) survived well into the Middle Ages, perhaps because those were times when the uncertainty of life was visible to all. And in the 13th century a bunch of monks, no less, compiled the Carmina Burana.

            This opening song of Carl Orff’s cantata is dedicated to Fortuna imperatrix mundi. In her aspect as arbiter of battles, she was called Fortuna victrix. William Dunbar (1460 to 1530) identified this aspect with Death:

            He takis the knychtis in to feild,
            Anarmit under helme and scheild;
            Victour he is at all mellie;
            Timor mortis conturbat me.

    • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “The religion is often a bilief that something will save…”

      in Singapore and South Korea, religion/churches were one of the main sources for the spread of the gospel… oops, I mean spread of the virus…

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        We have a winner.
        (may possibly be a way of illuminating less mentally fit members of society)

      • Robert Firth says:

        Yes,a moment I hope will be remembered, when the best place to catch a potentially lethal virus was a religious assembly, be it in China, Singapore or Iran.

        It resembles the morning of 1 September 1855, All Saints’ Day, when the great Lisbon earthquake killed tens of thousands of pious citizens in their heavy stone churches, while sparing the less pious who were spending the morning in the wooden brothels of the red light district.

        The lesson I take from this is simple: as Ibn Sina said, there are no miracles, because the Lawgiver does not break his own laws.

    • Xabier says:

      The error is perhaps believing in the medieval (not early) Christian doctrine that the Divine is the ‘Summum Bonum’ -ie all good and loving, with no trace of ‘evil’. The all-loving Father, etc.

      It is logical to be an atheist when the religious dogma is so divorced from reality.

      But as Jung pointed out, it is wiser to accept that the Divine sanctions what we and all living creatures experience as both ‘good’ and ‘evil.’

      ‘Answer to Job’ is a stimulating little book by Jung, worth reading: many questions, interesting answers and reflections on suffering.

      Lots of time to read good books in the coming days I’d say, religious or otherwise.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Xabier, once again I agree; Jung’s Answer to Job (Antwort auf Hiob in the original) is a wonderful read. But I think Job nevertheless had the last word: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” The whole verse, by the way (Job i:21) is the opening to Heinrich Schütz’ Musikalische Exequien, another of my treasures. Here is a wonderful performance by the English Baroque Soloists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zOY1vCLQHg.

        “May wee make such use of this and other the like preparatives, That neither death whensoever it shall come, may seeme terrible; not life tedious; how long soever it shall last.”

  4. Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    bus driver with symptoms:


    “French authorities detained Italian bus passengers on Monday over fears of the coronavirus. The bus driver was reportedly sent to the hospital after showing symptoms similar to the Chinese virus…”

    probably just The Flu… sarc…

  5. Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:


    “According to Corriere della Sera, 40 passengers from the heavily-affected Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy were forced to choose between quarantine in Mauritius, or returning to Italy without being able to disembark the plane.”

    so people from a hotzone think it’s okay to fly all over the place?

    there will be a pandemic, because of “people”…

  6. Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:


    “Hundreds of people were confined to a Tenerife hotel Tuesday after an Italian tourist was hospitalised in a suspected case of coronavirus, officials in Spain’s Canary Islands said.”

    there is a clear pattern emerging, where even one (suspected) person can cause major disruptions to the lives of many others…

    that is the power of the coronavirus…

    the virus is gaining control…

    • The crazy response contributes greatly to the problem.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Agreed wholeheartedly. When it was first reported that people could transmit the virus while remaining asymptomatic, it was obvious the spread was uncontrollable. We knew that over a month ago. All this panic is completely counterproductive, and is again just bureaucrats doing what they do best: seizing on another excuse to exert their control. As the cruise concentration camp show, uninfected people in quarantine are certain to become infected, thereby dramatically increasing the death toll.

        Heraclitus was traditionally called the “weeping philosopher”, because he wept at the follies of mankind. Democritus was known as the “laughing philosopher”, because … Swinburne abjured both, in The Garden of Proserpine”, and I think he was right.

        • Xabier says:

          We see that human nature is just as it always was: a valuable lesson.

          However, although the virus is uncontrollable, it can be managed and fought against to some extent, and governments are now making some very foolish decisions in that respect.

          Allowing free entry and exit to Italy -and throughout Europe – is simply imbecilic: all movement should have stopped weeks ago, to buy a little valuable time. Above all as it may mutate to become more lethal.

          I hope the deaths of many younger people over the next few weeks wake the public and politicians up from the ‘It’s only flu’ trance they have been placed in.

          • I read – some European airlines (Lufthansa and others) have still maintained their scheduled flights in and out of China – according to German news. There has never been – nor does there continue to be any remote possibility of containing this infectious disease or any other – without a central global control of pandemic risks. Which first and foremost stops the primary mode of infection transfer – the global transportation industries – especially air transportation. That said – such a control system would be nightmare to implement and to live with – and in reality – is probably beyond human ability.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      “there is a clear pattern emerging, where even one (suspected) person can cause major disruptions to the lives of many others…”

      What a horrible feeling to suddenly feel trapped by unfortunate circumstances not of your own making. There are a lot of potential knock on effects to these kind of actions. My wife and I have clients and schedules to keep, and if something like a 2-3 week quarantine occurred, we’d lose those contracts because every job has maybe an extra week at most. It’s not like we have clients that provide extra time, no, we have to explain why we need X number of weeks and then hustle to make sure it gets done in that time period. Even then they are pressuring to see if it can be done faster. The whole world works that way now.

      It’s like when they call a hundred people to show up on the day of jury duty without realizing how that may impact local GDP or what contracts a small company may lose from taking too much time. There is lots of competition in this world and if someone is trapped by quarantine, chances are likely to lose work/business and for people and companies on a just in time to pay the bills situation, that would really set them back or out of business.

      • Xabier says:

        Pretty tough schedules.

        I’m rather lucky, as I can get my customers to wait a year or so for their books to be done – ‘It’s been waiting 300 years to be restored, so a year or so won’t matter’ and there is no contract other than verbal understanding.

        On the downside, they are nearly all 70yrs +, so my customer base might shrink dramatically. The youngest and richest, a bibliomaniac, is a very heavy smoker…..

        I’m racing to clear my shelves now asap!

        • Interesting, was also musing about -economy/pandemics- situation in terms of the right or high time to sell some art, which might have little-low appeal afterwards with the pauperized “tastes” of younger generations after the event.

  7. Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:


    “Austria, Croatia and Switzerland reported their first cases, all in people who recently traveled to Italy.”

    if a pandemic was ever more possible because of the highest ever volume of travel…

    then we are now witnessing the results of the far too obvious…

    • Yoshua says:

      I read that the virus spread to northern Italy with Chinese guest workers. The Italian government tried to stop them from coming, but the Chinese government insisted that they followed their contract obligations.

  8. Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    on a personal note, I’m feeling higher stress lately, not (yet) because of the imminent arrival of the coronavirus to my locality, but because it’s quite exciting worldwide news and I’m very eager to keep up with all of it…


    North Korea still not on the list… zero official cases…

    Vietnam 16 total cases and all are considered “recovered”… this stat is not believable…

    Singapore… stopped at 89? no, 90th yesterday and 91st today…

    Iran 95 cases and 16 deaths… is this the reality of the disease and China is hiding their true death totals? or are there just many more cases not reported in Iran?

    Italy 75+ up to 155+ up to 230+ and now 323… today the increase is above a linear amount…

    the virus is spreading downward from the north, and Italians are in a few news reports where they are spreading the virus into other European countries…

    South Korea over 1,100 cases… should go over 2K in a few days…

    I’m not surprised that (supposedly) Fast Eddie is now engrossed in the online doom regarding the virus…

    so am I…

    • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

      Yes, Fast Eddie is lurking about to stir up the mass of doom…
      I believe he was born 100 years too late and die 100 too early!
      He would have made a great revolutionary in Europe or scientist z as in the 1960,
      The Time Machine….one of my early childhood favorite

      Keep😜 up the reports of FE postings….he’s a real rascal…

      Oh….surprise, surprise

      A similar Reuters poll published a little over a week ago, found the Chinese economy will grow at its slowest pace in the current quarter since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009

      Hold on everyone…the storm ahead is gonna be one we won’t forget!

      • Robert Firth says:

        Thank you for posting the 1960 version by George Pal. Immensely better than the remake (as is almost always the case with classic SF).

    • Yes, it’s very exciting..

      Let me also update my little account of events:

      Chinese msm/gov came out on Jan ~20-22nd and by Jan ~26-28th this sort of middle segment, i.e. sub micron grade masks disappeared from European shops by the joint power buying efforts of Chinese expats sending it home in bulk as well as stock piling by domestic first responders.

      And definitely by the end of Feb, so another ~month extra, even the higher grade (expensive) hazmat gear is not for sale anywhere.. Now, you can do your indiv estimates how this could perhaps work out ~similarly in terms of energy, food, other gear and kit etc.

      So, very rough estimate seems like ~1:3 ratio in the pace of affordable stuff disappearance vs the expensive one. However, this could accelerate to much faster panicky behavior, especially in dense pop centers.

      In general I’m of the opinion there “will be tomorrow” after this outbreak recedes, but there will be also lessons learned and changes in behavior afterwards, at least for the immediate generation of “survivors” with first hand experience.

      • Xabier says:

        Great political turbulence will follow, and I suspect a huge diminution in social trust and an increase -if that were possible -in cynicism towards governments and institutions.

        • Good points. I can imagine the problems that China will have with respect to trust in the government, if people go back to work and discover that the coronavirus was, in fact, very much active, despite the statements of the government. Businesses need to hire more workers, so that (on average) they can have enough workers, considering when workers are out sick. This is especially the case if new versions of the virus keep coming back around. These workers will be, on average, less productive because they have to be out sick for coronavirus illnesses every time they come back around. A few may die as well.

  9. Chrome Mags says:


    The US President weighed in on the Corona Virus today:
    “Washington (CNN) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday predicted the coronavirus is “going to go away” despite warnings from Democrats that his White House is asleep amid cresting fears in Washington that the outbreak could spark a pandemic.”

    So even the Corona Virus is now politicized?! Wow, this country’s version of ‘Lord of the Flies’ has now officially gone too far. I was thinking a few days ago that surely we can all come to consensus about this virus, but apparently that was naïve thinking.

    • Stephen says:

      Not to worry government officials spreading fake news will be replaced with a loyal supporters who have no knowledge or training to cheerfully reassure us.

    • Robert Firth says:

      They are all deluding themselves. A couple of weeks ago, it was posted that the virus can be spread by human excrement. I confess, my first thought was that, when the virus hits San Francisco, it will indeed be like a reply of the Black Death, because the streets of that city are full of sick, drug addicted layabouts spreading excrement. And there will be no way back.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Time for that Ayn Rand quote again: “We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” And I fear those consequences are approaching faster than a bat can fly.

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