The Economic Costs Of the Coronavirus (Billions of Dollars?)

The Economic Costs Of the Coronavirus (Billions of Dollars?)

Ilan Noy

Security,

https://www.reutersconnect.com/all?id=tag%3Areuters.com%2C2020%3Anewsml_RC2TPE9L7662&share=true

One way to count the cost of the Wuhan coronavirus is by how many people catch it, and then how many die. Another is the direct financial costs of public health measures to treat those infected and contain its spread.

One way to count the cost of the Wuhan coronavirus is by how many people catch it, and then how many die. Another is the direct financial costs of public health measures to treat those infected and contain its spread.

Yet another is the wider economic cost. But how to calculate this?

Some suggest a neglible impact on the global economy if the death toll is less or similar to the SARS outbreak in 2002-03.

But the economic impact is not directly tied to the number of people who get sick (morbidity) or die (mortality). It almost wholly depends on the indirect effects of the decisions that many millions of individuals make to minimise their chance of catching the virus, and the decision of governments on how to react to the threat.

This means the Wuhan outbreak could directly affect relatively few people, compared to past pandemics, yet still pack an intense punch in a more interconnected global economy.

Learning from SARS

We can draw lessons from the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) experience, the first epidemic of the 21st century.

SARS was another coronavirus. As the Wuhan virus emerged in late December from an animal market, SARS originated from animal markets in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong in November 2002.

Zoonotic epidemics – diseases emerging from animal hosts – are not new. But they are becoming more common with closer proximity between wild animals, domesticated animals and people; and they spread more rapidly due to increased movements of people within and between countries. Their economic risk is also likely to increase.

SARS spread to infect individuals across 26 countries in a matter of weeks. Fortunately it was then contained relatively rapidly. Ultimately about 8,500 people caught it. The mortality rate was about 11% with fewer than a thousand deaths.

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