It is easy to overdo COVID-19 quarantines

We have learned historically that if we can isolate sick people, we can often keep a communicable disease from spreading. Unfortunately, the situation with the new coronavirus causing COVID-19 is different: We can’t reliability determine which people are spreading the disease. Furthermore, the disease seems to transmit in many different ways simultaneously.

Politicians and health organizations like to show that they are “doing something.” Because of the strange nature of COVID-19, however, doing something is mostly a time-shifting exercise: With quarantines and other containment efforts, there will be fewer cases now, but this will be mostly or entirely offset by more cases later. Whether time-shifting reduces deaths and eases hospital care depends upon whether medical advances are sufficiently great during the time gained to improve outcomes.

We tend to lose sight of the fact that an economy cannot simply be shut down for a period and then start up again at close to its former level of production. China seems to have seriously overdone its use of quarantines. It seems likely that its economy can never fully recover. The permanent loss of a significant part of China’s productive output seems likely to send the world economy into a tailspin, regardless of what other economies do.

Before undertaking containment efforts of any kind, decision-makers need to look carefully at several issues:

  • Laying off workers, even for a short time, severely adversely affects the economy.
  • The expected length of delay in cases made possible by quarantines is likely to be very short, sometimes lasting not much longer than the quarantines themselves.
  • We seem to need a very rapid improvement in our ability to treat COVID-19 cases for containment efforts to make sense, if we cannot stamp out the disease completely.

Because of these issues, it is very easy to overdo quarantines and other containment efforts.

In the sections below, I explain some parts of this problem.

[1] The aim of coronavirus quarantines is mostly to slow down the spread of the virus, not to stop its spread.

As a practical matter, it is virtually impossible to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

In order to completely stop its spread, we would need to separate each person from every other person, as well as from possible animal carriers, for something like a month. In this way, people who are carriers for the disease or actually have the disease would hopefully have time to get over their illnesses. Perhaps airborne viruses would dissipate and viruses on solid surfaces would have time to deteriorate.

This clearly could not work. People would need to be separated from their children and pets. All businesses, including food sales, would have to stop. Electricity would likely stop, especially in areas where storms bring down power lines. No fuel would be available for vehicles of any kind. If a home catches fire, the fire would need to burn until a lack of material to burn stops it. If a baby needs to be delivered, there would be no midwife or hospital services available. If a person happened to have an appendicitis, it would simply need to resolve itself at home, however that worked out.

Bigger groups could in theory be quarantined together, but then the length of time for the quarantine would need to be greatly lengthened, to account for the possibility that one person might catch the disease from someone else in the group. The bigger the group, the longer the chain might continue. A group might be a single family sharing a home; it could also be a group of people in an apartment building that shares a common ventilation system.

[2] An economy is in many ways like a human being or other animal. Its operation cannot be stopped for a month or more, without bringing the economy to an end. 

I sometimes write about the economy being a self-organizing networked system that is powered by energy. In physics terms, the name for such a system is a dissipative structure. Human beings are dissipative structures, as are hurricanes and stars, such as the sun.

Human beings cannot stop eating and breathing for a month. They cannot have sleep apnea for an hour at a time, and function afterward.

Economies cannot stop functioning for a month and afterward resume operations at their previous level. Too many people will have lost their jobs; too many businesses will have failed in the meantime. If the closures continue for two or three months, the problem becomes very serious. We are probably kidding ourselves if we think that China can come back to the same level that it was at before the new coronavirus hit.

In a way, keeping an economy operating is as important as preventing deaths from COVID-19. Without food, water and wage-producing jobs (which allow people to buy necessary goods and services), the deaths from the loss of the economy would be far greater than the direct deaths from the coronavirus.

[3] A reasonable guess is that nearly all of us will face multiple exposures to the new coronavirus. 

Many people are hoping that this wave of the coronavirus will be stopped by warmer weather, perhaps in May or June. We don’t know whether this will happen or not. If the coronavirus does stop, there is a good chance the same virus, or a close variation of it, will be back again this fall. It is likely to come back in waves later, for at least one more year. In fact, if no vaccine is found, it is possible that it could come back, in various variations, indefinitely. There are many things we simply don’t know with certainty at this time.

Epidemiologists talk about the spread of a virus being stopped at the community immunity level. Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch originally estimated that 40% to 70% of the world’s population would come down with COVID-19 within the first year. He has revised this and now states that it is plausible that 20% to 60% of the world’s population will catch the disease in that timeframe. He also indicates that if the virus cannot be contained, the only way to get it under control is for 50% of the world’s population to become immune to it.

The big issue with containing the coronavirus is that we cannot really tell who has it and who does not. The tests available for COVID-19 are expensive, so giving the test to everyone, frequently, makes no sense. The tests tend to give a many false negatives, so even when they are given, they don’t necessarily detect people with the disease. There are also many people who seem to spread the disease without symptoms. Without testing everyone, these people will never be found.

We hear limited statements such as “The United States surgeon general said Sunday that he thinks the coronavirus outbreak is being contained in certain areas of the country as cases of the virus rise across the United States.” Unfortunately, containment of the virus in a few parts of the world does not solve the general problem. There are lots and lots of uncontained cases around the world. These uncontained cases will continue to spread, regardless of the steps taken elsewhere.

Furthermore, even when we think the virus is contained, there are likely to be missed cases, especially among people who seem to be well, but who really are carriers. Getting rid of the virus is likely to be a major challenge.

[4] There is an advantage to delaying citizens from catching COVID-19. The delay allows doctors to learn which existing medications can be used to help treat the symptoms of the disease.

There seem to be multiple drugs and multiple therapies that work to some limited extent.

For example, plasma containing antibodies from a person who has already had the illness can be injected into a person with the disease, helping to fight the disease. It is not clear, however, whether such a treatment will protect against future attacks of the virus since the patient is being cured without his own immune system producing adequate antibodies.

Some HIV drugs are being examined to see whether they work well enough for it to make sense to ramp up production of them. The antiviral drug remdesivir by Gilead Sciences also seems to have promise. For these drugs to be useful in fighting COVID-19, production would need to be ramped up greatly.

In theory, there is also a possibility that a vaccine can be brought to market that will get rid of the virus. Our past experience with vaccine-making has not been very good, however. Out of 200+ virus-caused diseases that affect humans, only about 20 have vaccines. These vaccines generally need to be updated frequently, because viruses tend to mutate over time.

With some viruses, such as Dengue Fever, people don’t ever build up adequate immunity to the many disease variations that exist. Instead a person who catches Dengue Fever a second time is likely to be sicker than the first time. Finding a vaccine for such diseases seems to be almost impossible.

Even if we can actually succeed in making a vaccine that works, the expectation seems to be that this will take at least 12 to 18 months. By this time, the world may have experienced multiple waves of COVID-19.

[5] There are multiple questions regarding how well European countries, Japan and the United States will really be able to treat coronavirus.

There are several issues involved:

(a) Even if medicines are identified, can they be ramped up adequately in the short time available?

(b) China’s exports have dropped significantly. Required medical goods that we normally import from China may not be available. The missing items could be as simple as rubbing alcohol, masks and other protective wear. The missing items could also be antibiotics, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications that are needed for both COVID-19 patients and other patients.

(c) Based on my calculations, the number of hospital beds and ICU beds needed will likely exceed those available (without kicking out other patients) by at least a factor of 10, if the size of the epidemic grows. There will also be a need for more medical staff. Medical staff may be fewer, rather than more, because many of them will be out sick with the virus. Because of these issues, the amount of hospital-based care that can actually be provided to COVID-19 patients is likely to be fairly limited.

(d) One reason for time-shifting of illnesses has been to try to better match illnesses with medical care available. The main benefit I can see is the fact that many health care workers will have contracted the illness in the first wave of the disease, so will be more available to give care in later waves of the disease. Apart from this difference, the system will be badly overwhelmed, regardless of when COVID-19 cases occur.

[6] A major issue, both with COVID-19 illnesses and with quarantines arising out of fear of illness, is wage loss

If schools and day care centers are closed because of COVID-19 fears, many of the parents will have to take off time from work to care for the children. These parent will likely lose wages.

Wage loss will also be a problem if quarantines are required for people returning from an area that might be affected. For example, immigrant workers in China wanting to return to work in major cities after the New Year’s holiday have been quarantined for 14 days after they return.

Clearly, expenses (such as rent, food and auto payments) will continue, both for the mother of the child who is at home because a child’s school is closed and for the migrant worker who wants to return to a job in the city. Their lack of wages will mean that these people will make fewer discretionary purchases, such as visiting restaurants and making trips to visit relatives. In fact, migrant workers, when faced with a 14 day quarantine, may decide to stay in the countryside. If they don’t earn very much in the best of times, and they are required to go 14 days without pay after they return, there may not be much incentive to return to work.

If I am correct that the illness COVID-19 will strike in several waves, these same people participating in quarantines will have another “opportunity” for wage loss when they actually contract the disease, during one of these later rounds. Unless there is a real reduction in the number of people who ultimately get COVID-19 because of quarantines, a person would expect that the total wage loss would be greater with quarantines than without, because the wage loss occurs twice instead of once.

Furthermore, businesses will suffer financially when their workers are out. With fewer working employees, businesses will likely be able to produce fewer finished goods and services than in the past. At the same time, their fixed expenses (such as mortgage payments, insurance payments, and the cost of heating buildings) will continue. This mismatch is likely to lead to lower profits at two different times: (a) when workers are out because of quarantines and (b) when they are out because they are ill.

[7] We likely can expect a great deal more COVID-19 around the world, including in China and in Italy, in the next two years.

The number of reported COVID-19 cases to date is tiny, compared to the number that is expected based on estimates by epidemiologists. China reports about 81,000 COVID-19 cases to date, while its population is roughly 1.4 billion. If epidemiologists tell us to expect 20% to 60% of a country’s population to be affected by the end of the first year of the epidemic, this would correspond to a range of 280 million to 840 million cases. The difference between reported cases and expected cases is huge. Reported cases to date are less than 0.01% of the population.

We know that China’s reported number of cases is an optimistically low number, but we don’t know how low. Many, many more cases are expected in the year ahead if workers go back to work. In fact, there have been recent reports of a COVID-19 outbreak in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, near Hong Kong. Such an outbreak would adversely affect China’s manufactured exports.

Italy has a similar situation. It is currently reported to have somewhat more than 10,000 cases. Its total population is about 60 million. Thus, its number of cases amounts to about 0.02% of the population. If Epidemiologist Lipsitch is correct regarding the percentage of the population that is ultimately likely to be affected, the number of cases in Italy, too, can be expected to be much higher within the next year. Twenty percent of a population of 60 million would amount to 12 million cases; 60% of the population would amount to 36 million cases.

[8] When decisions about quarantines are made, the expected wage loss when workers lose their jobs needs to be considered as well. 

Let’s calculate the amount of wage loss from actually having COVID-19. If workers generally work for 50 weeks a year and are out sick for an average of 2 weeks because of COVID-19, the average worker would lose 4% (=2/50) of his annual wages. If workers are out sick for an average of three weeks, this would increase the loss to 6% (3/50) of the worker’s annual wages.

Of course, not all workers will be affected by the new coronavirus. If we are expecting 20% to 60% of the workers to be out sick during the first year that the epidemic cycles through the economy, the expected overall wage loss for the population as a whole would amount to 0.8% (=20% times 4%) to 3.6% (=60% times 6%) of total wages.

Let’s now calculate the wage loss from a quarantine. A week of wage loss during a quarantine of the entire population, while nearly everyone is well, would lead to a wage loss equal to 2% of the population’s total wages. Two weeks of wage loss during quarantine would lead to wage loss equal to 4% of the population’s total wages.

Is it possible to reduce overall wage loss and deaths by using quarantines? This approach works for diseases which can actually be stopped through isolating sick members, but I don’t think it works well at all for COVID-19. Mostly, it provides a time-shifting feature. There are fewer illnesses earlier, but to a very significant extent, this is offset by more illnesses later.  This time-shifting feature might be helpful if there really is a substantial improvement in prevention or treatment that is quickly available. For example, if a vaccine that really works can be found quickly, such a vaccine might help prevent some of the illnesses and deaths in 2021 and following years.

If there really isn’t an improvement in preventing the disease, then we get back to the situation where the virus needs to be stopped based on community immunity. According to Lipsitch, to stop the virus based on community immunity, at least 50% of the population would need to become immune. This implies that somewhat more than 50% of the population would need to catch the new coronavirus, because some people would catch the new virus and die, either of COVID-19 or of another disease.

Let’s suppose that 55% would need to catch COVID-19 to allow the population immunity to rise to 50%. The virus would likely need to keep cycling around until at least this percentage of the population has caught the disease. This is not much of a decrease from the upper limit of 60% during the first year. This suggests that moving illnesses to a later year may not help much at all with respect to the expected number of illnesses and deaths. Hospitals will be practically equally overwhelmed regardless, unless we can somehow change the typical seasonality of viruses and move some of the winter illnesses to summertime.

If there is no improvement in COVID-19 prevention/treatment during the time-shift of cases created by the quarantine, any quarantine wage loss can be thought of as being simply in addition to wage loss from having the virus itself. Thus, a country that opts for a two week quarantine of all workers (costing 4% of workers’ wages) may be more than doubling the direct wage loss from COVID-19 (equivalent to 0.8% to 3.6% of workers’ wages).

[9] China’s shutdown in response to COVID-19 doesn’t seem to make much rational sense.

It is hard to understand exactly how much China has shut down, but the shutdown has gone on for about six weeks. At this point, it is not clear that China can ever come back to the level it was at previously. Clearly, the combination of wage loss for individuals and profit loss for companies is very high. The long shutdown is likely to lead to widespread debt defaults. With less wages, there is likely to be less demand for goods such as cars and cell phones during 2020.

China was having difficulty before the new coronavirus was discovered to be a problem. Its energy production has slowed greatly, starting about 2012-2013, making it necessary for China to start shifting from a goods-producing nation to a country that is more of a services-producer (Figure 1).

Figure 1. China energy production by fuel, based on 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy data. “Other Ren” stands for “Renewables other than hydroelectric.” This category includes wind, solar, and other miscellaneous types, such as sawdust burned for electricity.

 

For example, China’s workers now put together iPhones using parts made in other countries, rather than making iPhones from start to finish. This part of the production chain requires relatively little fuel, so it is in some sense more like a service than the manufacturing of parts for the phone.

The rest of the world has been depending upon China to be a major supplier within its supply lines. Perhaps many of these supply lines will be broken indefinitely. Instead of China helping pull the world economy along faster, we may be faced with a situation in which China’s reduced output leads to worldwide economic contraction rather than economic growth.

Without medicines from China, our ability to fight COVID-19 may get worse over time, rather than better. In such a case, it would be better to get the illness now, rather than later.

[10] We need to be examining proposed solutions closely, in the light of the particulars of the new coronavirus, rather than simply assuming that fighting COVID-19 to the death is appropriate.

The instructions we hear today seem to suggest using disinfectants everywhere, to try to prevent COVID-19. This is yet another way to try to push off infections caused by the coronavirus into the future. We know, however, that there are good microbes as well as bad ones. The ecosystem requires a balance of microbes. Dumping disinfectants everywhere has its downside, as well as the possibility of an upside of killing the current round of coronaviruses. In fact, to the extent that the virus is airborne, the disinfectants may not really be very helpful in wiping out COVID-19.

It is very easy to believe that if some diseases can be subdued by quarantines, the same approach will work everywhere. This really isn’t true. We need to be examining the current situation closely, based on whatever information is available, before decisions are made regarding how to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. Perhaps any quarantines used need to be small and targeted.

We also need to be looking for new approaches for fighting COVID-19. One approach that is not being used significantly to date is trying to strengthen people’s own immune systems. Such an approach might help people’s own immune system to fight off the disease, thereby lowering death rates. Nutrition experts recommend supplementing diets with Vitamins A, C, E, antioxidants and selenium. Other experts say zinc, Vitamin D and elderberry may be helpful. Staying away from cold temperatures also seems to be important. Drinking plenty of water after coming down with the disease may be beneficial as well. If we can help people’s own bodies fight the disease, the burden on the medical system will be lower.

 

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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4,403 Responses to It is easy to overdo COVID-19 quarantines

  1. Marco Bruciati says:

    Maybe After 2 months oil Will Jump at 200 dollar barrel or Will be not avsilable because a lot of companies defoult?

    • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      it’s a better chance that it drops to 2 dollars…

      • I would agree. Our problem is collapse and low price. The “Peak Oilers” spent too much time listening to economists with their models of the economy that are very wrong.

  2. Marco Bruciati says:

    I think too as told that for some years Will be collaps controller whit grid and war Economy. In country as Europe or usa. In poor country more more bad Total caos

    • I don’t think we really know what happens in collapse. Wars do seem likely. These could be local wars. Losing the grid seems likely.

      We can see Europe already breaking up into much smaller areas. This doesn’t look good.

  3. mrmhf says:

    ‪Why viral load plays a part in the severity of Coronavirus symptoms: https://myhomefarm.co.uk/coronavirus-and-viral-load

    This explanation was written by a doctor in the Midlands and elaborates on why some people get mild symptoms while others become critically ill.

    It’s also got a lot of helpful advice for families that are self-isolating.

    • Marco Bruciati says:

      I do every day 1 gram Vitamin c iniection and 1 gram liposomiale. Magnesio. Potassium.

    • This would seem to suggest that people with the disease should be outside more, so that the virus can blow away and get disbursed in the wind. One article earlier suggested that a person who coughs should walk a few feet before breathing in the air.

      If I recall correctly, one article claimed that with the 1919 Spanish Flu, patients who were outside in the sunshine recovered more quickly (or something like that).

  4. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Social unrest could erupt among the urban poor and marginalized in the West’s biggest cities as they lack sources of income amid the COVID-19 crisis, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said on Friday.”

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN21E29G

  5. Marco Bruciati says:

    Do you think border closed Will be open soon? You know in Italia not possibile go in Sicilia or Sardinia? Even border between region are closed. Helty system in Italia are regionale and every region want close himself from others. Islanda Re closed

    • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      maybe in 2021…

    • Xabier says:

      Same in Spain, the regions are pulling apart. ‘We don’t want those people from that town 2 miles away to come here and infect us’.

    • Everyone wants to make care of its own area, only. Doesn’t work in an integrated world.

      • Xabier says:

        Few people in Spain believe anything of worth really exists outside their own region anyway.

        It’s both attractive – good to be proud of your land, it’s customs, cuisine, etc, -and maddeningly small-minded and parochial.

  6. Harry McGibbs says:

    “More than 80 poor and middle-income countries have sought financial help from the International Monetary Fund in recent weeks as they struggle to cope with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 epidemic.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/27/dozens-poorer-nations-seek-imf-help-coronavirus-crisis

  7. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Coronavirus means the chemicals industry could face a severe demand shock larger than in the 2008-2009 financial crisis, when operating rates fell to 46%, according to two consultants.

    “A massive loss of demand around the world for key end-use sectors such as automotive, construction, and electronics, leaves chemical companies facing tough choices to maintain their businesses, according to John Richardson, ICIS Senior Consultant, Asia, and Paul Hodges, chairman of International eChem.

    ““This is unchartered territory. It could be the biggest demand drop since the end of the Second World War, when GDP fell by 25%,” said Hodges.”

    https://www.icis.com/explore/resources/news/2020/03/27/10487471/europe-economic-collapse-adds-to-global-chemicals-woes

  8. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Ever since ECB president Christine Lagarde’s unfortunate “we are not here to close spreads” remark on March 12, investors in bank equity have also worried about European banks’ exposure to Italian sovereign bonds.

    “This is likely to be at around or above 100% of tangible net asset value for most large Italian banks, but also a hefty exposure for some Spanish banks. For now, this worry seems to have been contained by ECB buying.

    “Let’s hope it stays that way. Because sovereign debt is at the centre of the support packages every country is relying on to get through this, and every banking system too, however strong each was when it started.”

    https://www.euromoney.com/article/b1kxrvx42r38r6/can-banks-withstand-the-impact-of-covid-19

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The U.S. mortgage finance system could collapse if the Federal Reserve doesn’t step in with emergency loans to offset a coming wave of missed payments from borrowers crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

      “Congress did not include relief for the mortgage industry in its $2 trillion rescue package — even as lawmakers required mortgage companies to allow homeowners up to a year’s delay in making payments on federally backed loans.”

      https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/27/mortgage-system-collapse-coronavirus-pandemic-152338

      • No kidding! Mortgage finance is clearly one of the big areas to falter, very soon after a shut down.

        • Chrome Mags says:

          In California the 4 largest banks have volunteered to allow a period of non-payment. Our mortgage lender however is still requiring payment during the pandemic/business downturn and they have set up their phone system so you can’t get a hold of anyone and won’t return calls. They do have a message on their answering machine that says any late or non-payment will result in damage to a mortgage holders credit. Nice people eh?

  9. Harry McGibbs says:

    “…until the health crisis has passed and people start flying again, airports that only a month ago were in the midst of expansion projects will continue to downsize as the industry weathers its biggest ever downturn.”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-airlines-airports/travel-slump-sick-staff-force-cash-worried-u-s-airports-to-downsize-idUKKBN21E1K0

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “United Airlines on Friday warned that it expects a lengthy slump in travel demand because of the coronavirus, which will likely require the carrier to have a smaller workforce, while Delta asked for more volunteers to take unpaid leave after close to a quarter of the carrier’s employees raised their hands.”

      https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/27/corovanirus-fallout-united-airlines-warns-aid-isnt-enough-to-avoid-workforce-cuts.html

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Virgin Atlantic is applying for hundreds of millions of pounds in state aid to keep afloat during the coronavirus crisis, after the chancellor told the stricken aviation sector this week he would consider assisting firms on a case-by-case basis.”

        https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/27/virgin-atlantic-to-seek-millions-in-state-aid-amid-covid-19-slump

      • How do these many former airline workers make a living? If you try to ramp back up again, where do you find them again?

        • Mosey says:

          “If you try to ramp back up again, where do you find them again?”

          Are you serious Gail? Most workers will be unemployed for a very long time, working at whatever gig they can get in order to survive. They will jump at the chance to return to their old higher paying job, no?

          Or are you implying they will all be dead and therefore unable to work?

          Please explain if you would. Thanks.

          • Mosey says:

            Anyone?

            • psile says:

              Gail’s point was that any prolonged shutdown will cause many critical businesses to close, employees will end up unemployed, broke and possibly dispossessed. The government cannot bail out everybody, nor indefinitely. The bubble of collapsing debt built up since 2009 is just too large. Then there’s the issue of inflation rearing its ugly head from all the fresh money printing going on now, if too much money is chasing too few goods. Especially if the scarcity of goods is affected by broken supply chains.

          • CTG says:

            There many incidences in many parts if the world in history that when the ramp comes up after a prolonged slump, it is hard to get experienced workers who used to work before the slump. You will get a ton of newbies but you need to train them up again. Check out the oil and gas industry for similar examples. Some easy jobs in the airline industry can be filled with newbies but technical jobs, no way. Furthermore, the wages given during g the recovery may not be attractive

            In this situation that we are in now, it is across the entire industry, not just one airline. The entire travel and tourism virtually disappeared overnight (in one month to be precise but that is still overnight in one nit-picking sense) and it is just nearly impossible to revive the entire broken industry in a short period of time. Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific is cancelling 96% of their flights and parking 96% of their planes. Google to read the news. If I am the CEO, I have really no clue what to do and how this thing will end. We not talking about 10%. We are talking close to 100%.

            Similarly for VW, their cost is EUR2.2B/week. The CEO said that other than a little bit of sales in China, it is zero everywhere. They may need to cut cost and shut down. €2.2B/week is really really a lot of money. Again all the workers there in Wolfsburg (just saw it on Diacovery Channel) are trained and rather skilled. If the shutdown is long, VW will not have it easy to start up. The workers may have gone back to their hometowns, sick, dead or even retired.

    • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “…until the health crisis has passed and people start flying again…”

      “United Airlines on Friday warned that it expects a lengthy slump in travel demand…”

      no kidding… the slump will be quite lengthy… like forever…

      even if the health crisis goes away…

      and, perhaps too obvious, it could keep going around the world season after season and year after year… like forever…

  10. Harry McGibbs says:

    “U.S. energy firms cut the most oil rigs since April 2015, removing rigs for a second week in a row as a coronavirus-related slump in economic activity and fuel demand has forced massive retrenchment in investment by oil and gas companies.”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/usa-rigs-baker-hughes/us-oil-drillers-cut-the-most-rigs-in-a-week-in-nearly-5-years-baker-hughes-idUKL1N2BK1AM

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      Russia and Saudi headed for panicky u-turn?

      “The head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, Kirill Dmitriev, has suggested that the Eurasian nation could reconcile its differences with Saudi Arabia and help stabilise the price of oil if a wider array of countries joins a new OPEC+ deal.”

      https://capital.com/russia-calls-for-wider-opec-co-operation-to-counter-collapse-in-oil-demand

      • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        it’s too late baby now it’s too late…

        if OPEC+ cuts its production to zero, that might be enough to balance the supply/demand…

        but probably the cuts will have to be greater than that…

      • odd how the finest minds in the oil business still don’t ‘get it’

        i could afford to use oil if it was $100 barrel, same as if it was 10$ barrel

        but neither price would induce me to use ‘more’ of it, because I have cut back on my travel use drastically since the virus outbreak, as have millions of others

        Artificially ramping oil back up to an imagined $60 will just stick another spoke in the wheel of our economic system

        Prior to 1850s, oil was just a nuisance that polluted fields and streams in certain places. It had no ‘value’ at all. That’s the point, the value of oil is contained in the use of it

        The Russkis and Saudis, if they get the price back up will think they have xxx bns worth of oil, the shock will come when they get no more total revenue, (probaly less)

        • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          “Prior to 1850s, oil was just a nuisance that polluted fields and streams in certain places.”

          it’s off topic, but why was Nature polluting itself back then?

          • CTG says:

            Oil flows out naturally and seeps from the ground. It is not polluting because it is only a small area. Furthermore it is not burned. It is is likely to be co signed by oil-loving bacteria. Oil is natural. As natural as the organic vegetables. It is the burning process that is not natural.

            • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              that is a good answer…

              I like the life I (still) have…

              due to the energy produced by the burning process…

            • Tim Groves says:

              In the Alberta tar sounds, it’s a big big area, so nature is polluting there, and man (and the occasional woman and trans person) is cleaning up the mess. So well done us!!

          • Norman Pagett says:

            nature wasn’t polluting itself, i meant the term pollution to apply to people who wanted to use the land and streams

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