Thought Box

COVID-19 – What it means to business

COVID-19 – What it means to business

by Alok Jagdhari April 19 2020, 1:53 am Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 9 secs

Survival Guide for businesses, especially for small businesses/startups by Alok Jagdhari

Part 1: The Pathogen

Starting with a CAVEAT: No individual alive on this planet has any living memory of the two most destructive non-war events of 20th Century, 1918-19 Spanish Flu and 1929 The Great Depression.

Please take my views in this light. Collate and collect as many informed views as possible too.

Why this extraordinary response and why the viral memes comparing this to hunger etc. are missing the point?

Worldwide response to Covid-19 is driven by our institutional memory of the Spanish Flu

Years – 1918-1919

Infections worldwide – 500m (50Cr)/27% of global population

Deaths worldwide – 50m (5cr)

Deaths in India and China

India - between 5m and 10m (50 Lakh to 1 Cr)

China – between 10m and 16m

Abatement – the virus grew weaker as the infection progressed and then eventually became less dangerous after 2 years  

Was this Pandemic unexpected?

Not at all…  It was just waiting to happen.

Did the last 20 years give us enough warnings?

Recent History of Viral Epidemics

HIV/ AIDS - Late 1990s to 2010

Death Toll: 36m

SARS - 2002-2004

Death Toll: < 1000

Ebola (Multiple) – 2007, 2013-2016, 2018-2020

Death Toll: > 15,000

H1N1 (Swine Flu) – 2009-2010

Death Toll: CDC Estimates range from 150,000 – 575,000

Indian Edition (2015): > 2,000  

MERS (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome) – 2012

Death Toll: > 1000

Measles (DRC, Samoa etc.) – 2019 onwards

Death Toll: > 5,000

Dengue Fever (Asia, South America, India) – 2019 onwards

Death Toll: > 2,500

A Global Pandemic has always been a constant threat to mankind.  Why is Covid-19 "different" and hence, so dangerous? How is it “different”?

It is the only air-borne infection (i.e. can be contacted without exchange of bodily fluids) where the infection can pass on without the host showing any symptoms of an infection.  

H1N1, SARS and MERS the infection was passed on only after the existing host showed symptoms of the infection.

Hence, previous viral infections were easier to detect with thermal scanning. It made it easier to identify and isolate the people carrying the infection.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says that between 25% to 50% of those infected with the covid-19 virus, may remain “Asymptomatic” for a prolonged period while continuing to pass on the infection to others who will then become ill.  

This makes it very difficult to isolate the carriers who can pass on the infection to others, therefore the only way to identify all possible infection carriers is through a population wide testing.

To that extent, this viral infection resembles HIV/AIDS, where the person infected can outwardly remain healthy while carrying the virus and having the potential to pass on the infection to others.

Worst of two worlds – it has the stealth of HIV and the virulence of influenza. 

Here below are the Unknown Unknowns:

Will there be a second surge of infections after social distancing is withdrawn?

Can a person be infected and become grievously ill a second time? (Data from South Korea suggests the virus can "return”).

Does a person remain infectious after recovery? When will Covid-19 abate?

Those are wrong questions to ask!

The following conditions must be met, all necessary but only collectively sufficient, for the Pandemic to abate:

  • Universal on-demand testing, that’s free of cost
  • Tests that can produce results rapidly and accurately – in under 15 minutes
  • A vaccine that provides bullet-proof immunity and is made available to all Medical Practitioners, vulnerable populations, hospitality industry and global travelers (in that order)
  • A prophylactic that prevents the worst effects of the infection if taken as a preventive regime
  • A treatment regime of anti-viral(s) medication that can curb the worst effects of the disease if taken after the infection

To follow:

Part 2: Macroeconomics

Part 3: Microeconomics

Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.