As my father was an epidemiologist and renowned professor of infectious diseases, I cannot help but to bring some sense of context in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic and its consequences on the world economy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Spanish Flu in 1918 killed up to 50 million people, while UNAIDS reports that 32 million have died from HIV since the early Eighties.
In 2015, a year after West Africa’s Ebola outbreak rattled the rest of the world, Bill Gates gave an 8-minute TEDTalk titled “The next outbreak? We're not ready.”
Gates, who stepped down from Microsoft on March 13 (36 years to the day he took his company public) said, “The greatest risk of global catastrophe was most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes.” He outlined how the world was not adequately prepared for a global pandemic, even though we technically had all the tools we needed to get prepared.
It’s early coronavirus days yet there are already estimates that the virus could cost the global economy $1 trillion this year. That financial impact will hit Monaco’s economy, too, as the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters has been cancelled and we are waiting to see if the Monaco Grand Prix, which represents 5% of the country’s annual revenue, will still take place May 21-24.
Yet for most residents, the March 17 shutdown “until further notice” was a sigh of bittersweet relief. Let’s face it, there are worse places in the world to be confined to your home.
For those anxious to track the evolution of the pandemic, I recommend the Johns Hopkins website.
It may not be as social as your 10 a.m. coffee meeting at Cova, but you won't catch the virus from your tablet.