By Ernst Wolff.
The Corona Virus 2019-nCoV has – although the first disease occurred only two months ago and its genome has only been known for three weeks – already set numerous world records. Never before in the history of mankind has a virus spread so quickly, never before has its genome been decoded so quickly, and never before have so many people been quarantined and entire large cities sealed off from the outside world.
What is behind all this? Hysteria? Scare tactics? Business deals? An out-of-control warfare experiment? No one can answer that question conclusively at this time. Nevertheless, some facts seem to be certain. Scientists assume that the virus was transmitted from an animal to a human being, that it can cause pneumonia and acute lung failure, and that it can lead to death in more than 2 percent of cases.
This alone does not fundamentally distinguish it from an influenza virus. However, the fact that carriers of the coronavirus can infect others before the outbreak of the disease, i.e. during the incubation period, and very probably also some time after the symptoms have disappeared does. This characteristic does not promise good news, as it makes it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to stop the spread of the corona virus.
The world is badly equipped
If this should happen – and there is no reason to assume otherwise at present – the first thing that could happen is a global pandemic for which the world is not well prepared. As a result of the global financial crisis and the euro crisis, healthcare systems have been severely affected in recent years, most hospitals are understaffed, inadequately equipped and in many cases already working at full capacity. Therefore, even in the industrialized countries, a considerable lack of treatment for patients must be expected.
Emerging and developing countries would be considerably worse off. In Africa, for example, China’s most important trading partner and the permanent destination of many Chinese workers, not a single country has adequate medical care, not to mention the possibilities of preventing a pandemic by checking suspicious cases, for example by means of rapid tests.
It would be particularly bad for infected patients with a severe course of disease: Since they often need artificial ventilation and their blood often has to be enriched with oxygen outside the body, an aggravation of their condition would mean certain death for the majority of them.
Economic crashes and social protests
But the economies of these countries would also be affected by the outbreak of a pandemic. Entire sectors such as the catering, hotel and tourism industries would collapse. There would also be production stoppages, disruption of supply chains and food shortages, which would immediately lead to price increases.
In reaction to this, social protests, possibly even riots or popular uprisings could be expected, which could further destabilize these already economically weak and politically unstable countries, make the living conditions of the majority of the population even more difficult and thus trigger the next wave of migration.
Is this vision of the future too apocalyptic? Hardly, because even if China, Europe and North America succeed in containing the virus, the chances of doing so in the poorer countries of Asia, South America and Africa are extremely low.
Fatal consequences for the global financial system
However, medical undersupply and its consequences would by no means be the only threat to be expected. Another – and possibly more serious – threat lies in the global financial system. Since the global financial crisis, it has been kept alive only by extensive manipulation by central banks. They have ensured that we are currently dealing with the highest levels of debt ever and huge bubbles in the stock, bond and property markets.
Since economic collapses in the wake of the coronavirus spread would also be inevitable in the industrialised countries, private lenders would probably be much more cautious in the future, so that the central banks would be forced to intensify the course of a renewed loose monetary policy adopted last year. The Chinese central bank announced on Sunday that it will support the domestic stock market with 1.2 trillion yuan (156 billion euros) on Monday.
The money flood expected far beyond China and the resulting devaluation of the money could lead to more and more investors fleeing to safe havens and thus trigger a huge crash on the financial markets – with the consequence that confidence in the increasingly worthless money would rapidly melt away.
No one can currently predict with certainty how the current pandemic will develop in the coming days and weeks. However, if the trend that has been emerging so far continues, it cannot be excluded that the corona virus 2019-nCoV will prove to be the much-vaunted “black swan” – the event that finally heralds the long-awaited collapse of the global financial system.
Thanks to the author for the right to publish.
Picture reference: Soni’s / Shutterstock
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