One day It will all be gone
Things are looking pretty grim.
Everyday we get more new cases and everyday we hear in the news the death toll rising.
As the time of writing, there are about 16.000 deaths worldwide and counting.
That number, terrible as it is, is not yet as high as one could expect, we’ve been hearing the doom and gloom for so long that our minds are expecting the worst.
There are many other diseases that kill a lot more people than the virus.
But this is an infectious disease, that’s the difference.
We’ve been told over and over, the corona virus spread in an exponential curve, and that is bad, really bad.
If the disease is exponential we are truly fucked.
Thankfully it is not.
The problem here, is the number of deaths. The spread of the disease is one thing, but at a 2% mortality rate, the number of casualties is much lower than the people infected.
The growth rate for daily deaths seems to be between 10 to 20%. If the trend continues, we could extrapolate that by the end of April, (40 days from now) the death toll could reach 30.000.
I am using a simple interest formula here: A=P(1+r T) = 16.000 (1+2/100 *40)= 28,800
Of course, this is complete speculation on my behalf. The growth rate could be much higher (or lower), there are many cases that has not been diagnosed, and many other variables we can’t predict right now.
However, this is not exponential, it’s linear.
The second half of the chessboard
Once upon a time, there was a king that was very grateful to an inventor for something he had designed. The king let him name the price for his talent and he said: ”Just give me 1 grain of rice for the first square in the chessboard, 2 for the second, 4 for the third, 8 for the fourth, and so on”
The king was surprised and pleased that the price was so low so he agreed.
Little did he know, the amount of rice the inventor was asking for was huge: more than 18,000,000 trillions of rice grains. There isn’t enough rice in the world to cover that.
Now, that’s exponential.
This story illustrates how bad we are at estimating exponential growth and how the numbers shoot through the roof once you reach the second half of the chessboard.
There is another example to illustrate this:
Would you rather get 1 million dollars now or 1 cent today, 2 cents tomorrow, 4 cents the day after…(you get the idea) for a month?
As you’ve probably guess by now, the second option is better- it’s more than $10 million dollars.
Back to Coronavirus
For the sake of simplicity, let’s say we had the first victim on January 1st, now, 90 days later, if we’d had the exponential rate mention before, we would have reached the number of 1 septillion, which is: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
That is a trillion times the world population. So imagine 1 trillion planet earths with 7 billion people on each, all of them dead in just 3 months from Coronavirus.
That is exponential growth.
In fact, following that formula, we would have become extinct by day 33, that is about February 2nd.
Like I said, we don’t really know what’s going to happen, there could be surprises around the corner (good and bad) but still, it’s not going to be exponential.
Now, I’m going to be naive, like the Indian king, and take a wild guess based in the current growth rate. This is my forecast:
My optimist forecast is : 100. 000 deaths worldwide by the end of this
My pessimist forecast is: 500.000 deaths
Also, let’s keep in mind that the growth rate is much higher at the beginning and then slows down. This is already happening in China and soon will happen in Italy and Spain.
Let’s keep some perspective
Even in the pessimistic scenario, only half a million people will die.
I know that’s a lot, but, how many people die every year from regular flu? About the same, 500.000
How many people die from HIV? 1 million
And from Malaria? 700.000, Suicide? 800.000, Diabetes? 3 million, Cardiovascular disease? 17 million
All these people are dying every year and we don’t invest so much money into this diseases and especially we don’t paralyze the world and the economy.
Are we overreacting?
3 million people die of diabetes every year, yet the governments don’t panic and close airports, motorways or even McDonald or candy shops. I know, diabetes is not infectious but still, a life is a life.
Panic will kill more people than Corona
On 9/11 3000 people were killed directly during the attacks. The following year the public was scared of flying, and that fear made them drive for long distances when they should have taken a flight. It is estimated that as a result of that, 3000 extra people died on the road. This is called second order effects.
Poverty kills. If you are homeless and can’t afford a doctor you are done. Of course it’s too early to say but I reckon the death toll is going to be higher from poverty than the virus.
The next crisis
I’m old enough to remember a few slumps in the markets — 1998, 9/11 and 2008. That was nothing compare to this.
After the Coronavirus has subsided, we will have the Coronacrisis and that is going to be worse than the virus. It is impossible to predict now, but the second order effects of the economic crisis that we are about to endure are going to be devastating. Job losses, bankruptcy, home repossessions, poverty and disease.
This is going to be the mother of all crisis. The economy is in gridlock and is going to stay like this for months.
I was in London Heathrow airport yesterday, the busiest international airport in the world, and it was a ghost town. I never thought I’d see it like that.
That’s a big sign that the situation is unprecedented and the ripples are going to spread out far.
To be honest, I’m worried, not so much about the virus but about the consequences of the lockdown. This is going to hit people hard, job loses, failed payments, suicides, poverty, loss of medical care, stress, anxiety and so on.
Second order effects
Is there room for hope?
Yes there is.
It’s difficult to remain positive when you know all these devastating consequences, but the last thing you want to lose is hope.
We need to remain positive about all this and learn from our mistakes, if we do, we will be able to stop it when it happens again.
We should take this opportunity to change those things that are not working and make them better. Globalization, global warming, A.I, big brother, and biotechnology are some of the things we need to look into.
But also we need to take better care of yourself, physically and mentally. I’m pretty sure this is going to be a wake up call for individuals and nations and we are going to come out stronger and more balanced than ever.
So hold on tight and don’t lose hope.
In the end everything is going to be all right.