Economies are easier to freeze than they are to thaw out

coronaI’m always amazed how slowly governments move they should be acting quickly and how quickly they move when they should be acting slowly.

Alarm bells should have been ringing loud and clear in late January when news of the Wuhan virus was breaking into our collective consciousness.

Taiwan and Hong Kong, after all, moved quickly, knowing full well that their proximity to China proper posed a real threat.

That should have been the proverbial canary in the mine shaft for the World Health Organization and the rest of the world.

Alas, it wasn’t. The West’s survival instincts have been snuffed out and we now find ourselves grappling with whether to end the lock downs and how to get our economies started again.

Now, we’re faced with a similar problem. We can’t stay locked down waiting for some miracle cure or a vaccine.

There are, to be sure, therapies that are being tried and show great promise. That’s good. That’s what we need.

As for a vaccine, that’s a pipe dream and even if one can be developed, it won’t be ready for years.

In the meantime, businesses are closing and people are losing their jobs. Our economies are taking hits that have never been seen, not even during the height of the Great Depression.

Worse still, people are dying from other things beside the coronavirus pandemic because they cannot get treatment at hospitals.

There are some estimates, in fact, that things other than the virus account for 50 per cent of excess deaths – deaths that we would normally not see. These are the collateral damage of the pandemic.

It will be years, of course, before we know the full extent of the damage done by the pandemic. But what we do know is that it is most deadly among the elderly in care facilities.

We also now know that children are less likely to contract the disease and are not some sort of super carrier.

Surely, we can do a better job of protecting the elderly without forcing young, able-bodied people to remain indoors until the virus is no more.

In this respect the new blood test available for quick detection of the virus ought to help.

So we can get back to work and quickly.

The reason being that it is far easier to freeze an economy than it is to thaw it out.


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