Author: Ion Grosu; Translate: Eugeniu Sinchevici
The virus and the disease it causes, despite six months of researched cases and the attention of the entire world is unknown. We do not know whether those who “are cured” are permanently cured (1, 2). We do not know if they gain immunity and how long they hold this immunity. We do not know if this immunity, which we do not know if it exists, also ensures immunity to viruses * that mutate from Sars-Cov-2. And how often does this virus mutate?
We don’t even know much about the “disease”- Covid-19. Is it a single disease? It manifests itself very varied and sometimes leads to catastrophic consequences for a whole range of organs and tissues (3). Most of those who go through the acute form of the disease end up having sunken lungs (4). Will this be a chronic condition? Will the lungs recover? Or respiratory failure will always remain with “the cured”.
We are not sure how long the incubation period lasts. We do not know for sure when and for how long a person is dangerous. We do not know when and how do we decide if someone is “healed”.
We also don’t know much about how this virus spreads. Yes, it is apparently spreading from surfaces touched by sick people. But a team of German researchers looked at an entire village and found no viruses, capable of infecting any surface. Not even in the homes of sick people. Not on the door handle, on the cutlery handles or on the phone screens! (5) Then why is it so contagious?
From December to the end of March “we knew” that Sars-Cov-2 is not transmitted by air, only by liquids. But it seems that this (vital!) information is not certain. A group of American researchers say there may be cases of airborne transmission (6). Masks, which were “not mandatory” even on the WHO official website, are now strongly recommended by most governments (7).
It is clear that there is more we don’t know than what we know. And under such conditions, who can make forecasts and based on what data?
As a method we will deliver a range. A few scenarios, based on a few essential criteria.
And we will start from what interests most of us: When will it end? Will we return to a “normal” life, as it was? How much will we pay (in lives, in freedoms, in money)? Will we be able to defeat this virus or will we have to get used to living with it?
And I will make four scenarios, all possible, within the limits of the information read so far, in ascending order. From the most pessimistic scenario, to the most optimistic.
1. The most pessimistic scenario: global disaster
In March, Angela Merkel also declared that the virus can no longer be isolated and that 60-70% of Germany’s population is expected to be infected (8). If this scenario extends to the global level, that means over 4 billion patients in 2020. Of them, with good luck, only 2% or 80 million people die..
Because in this scenario the disease does not leave the cured ones with immunity. For instance, there are many cases in Korea, Italy and China, where “healed” people “get sick” again. This is exactly what happens in the worst case scenario. The virus returns and returns. Either in mutated versions, or even the same version, as in the case of a “simple cold”.
Some get infected again through repeated exposure to infection, others from cells where the virus has been dormant. And that means endless illness.
But what about the vaccine? You mightl ask me. Yes, there are over 500 laboratories in the world working hard to develop a vaccine, but that means nothing. The “simple cold” is caused by tens of thousands of years of viruses, including coronaviruses, and mankind has not been able to get a vaccine (9).
Have you heard of an AIDS vaccine? And since the 1980s AIDS kills millions, almost 40 years have passed, still, no vaccine. Why are the press outlets and governments so confident that in 2021 we will have the SARS-Cov-2 vaccine? In this scenario the vaccine does not exist.
But that’s not enough either. Even with 80 million dead out of 4 billion, we will also have the rest 3.92 billion “healed”. And there are all signs that the effect of Covid-19 on the human body, even in the mild version of the disease, can be devastating. Disability of the lungs, major problems heart issues (have 12% of the “healed”), kidney, liver and other affected organs. Rare brain disorders caused by Covid-19 (10). Those “healed” in the first wave of illness can mean billions of people who are now suffering from severe health conditions. People with a severely injured body, with chronic diseases and conditions, who always need medical support to stay alive.
That would not be fantastic or out of the ordinary. 40% of those who passed through Ebola without dying became blind in 5 years after “healing” (11). We do not know what other long-term effects this coronavirus may have.
In February, populist politicians continuously repeated that coronavirus can be compared to a common flu. This is what almost all the idiots in power have said – starting with Trump and ending with Ali Khamenei. Life shows that it can rather be compared to a type of AIDS, which is easily transmitted. Maybe even through the air. And even AIDS might look like a breeze.
New and new waves of pandemic hit the world every year, decimating populations and making life a pain for the “healed.” States, medical systems and economies simply collapse under the weight of the dead, the sick, and the isolation. Poor states become nobody’s land. Somalis dominated by the law of the jungle. In the richer states people are recruited to fast medical courses. The population is re-profiled. Transport, agriculture, industrial production reduce human involvement to a minimum. The islands of healthy communities try to protect themselves from the external pressure of medical migrants.
Civilization, as we know it, collapses slowly, under the weight of a 0.1 micron form of virus.
2. The pessimistic scenario: years of struggle and shortages
Maybe this virus isn’t that bad. One scenario that would give hope would be that like SARS, MERS and Ebola, humanity will be able to stop it. It is true that neither SARS, MERS nor Ebola affected so many countries and people.
But there was another infection that knelt down humanity and then it went away, it seems, forever: the Spanish flu. The Spanish flu killed between 5% and 10% of the world’s population in 1918-1920 and then left us alone. This virus could do that too. It will play 2-3 years with the globe, infect some 2 billion people, kill about 400 million and then leave us in peace and deep economic crisis.
Will the life be the same after the economic collapse, almost inevitable in 3 years of isolation, shortages and continuous poverty? Will the states still be the same? Will there be wars, mass migration, serious conflicts at international level?
Some industries will almost disappear – tourism, the aviation industry, hotel services. In 3 years of pandemic, the economic circuits we are now relying on will be inoperative. Companies will consume locally, prices will always jump in the air, quality of life will decrease.
For poor countries this will mean poverty, emigration and the prospect of the total destruction of state institutions and the fall towards authoritarianism governed by telephone, and the laws are not published anywhere anymore – they must be guessed in the dictator’s eyes.
3. Moderate scenario: It will be difficult, but we will win
In the hope that the above scenarios are “unrealistic”, everyone’s expectation is that we will overcome the virus with a vaccine. And the vaccine could come through October-November, if we’re lucky or by 2021.
Evolution is possible in several stages – a rapid autumn vaccine is released with hurried testing, which gives negative side effects for most of those vaccinated, and then, by June 2021, a more elaborate vaccine, better tested and with fewer negative consequences for the population.
And until the vaccine, the virus will be nicer to us. The virus will infect only 10% of the population, it will kill only 2% of those infected. The rest will be hidden through houses, and authorities and businesses will find ways to keep the economy afloat by introducing safety protocols.
The global economy will suffer, but it will recover. There will be bankruptcy, there will be many losers and some winners. In the democratic states the demand for populist, stand-up politicians and clowns will decrease. People will understand that they need competent and rational leaders. Foreign policy will change. Some countries hit hardest by the crisis will lose influence, others, more disciplined will gain major economic and diplomatic advantage.
4. The optimistic scenario: is it just a flu?
I went these days to a hospital, with other reasons than the theme of the article. One of the doctors said a sentence that gave me a wide smile: “Come back, please at the end of May, when this madness will end.“
I laughed, because in my mind the first scenario is so realistic that I excluded any normalization from the beginning in 2020. But why not give justice to that doctor? Can this virus really be a seasonal manifestation? Perhaps the heat, humidity and ultraviolet of summer will drastically diminish the spread of Covid19 and in June we will breathe freely. Maybe the pseudo-quarantine will take effect and the cases will drop to zero in a few weeks.
And from June we will hug each other for picnics, we will go to football matches, we will laugh at the phobias of the past and we will come out only a little poorer.
Maybe we will even learn to consume less, to enjoy each other, to observe nature as it is – gentle and cruel at the same time. Maybe the feeling of Death’s breath in the neck will make us wiser, maybe it will make us find the courage to do what we wanted to do long ago.
I very much wish the cop of the universe would let us go on with a simple warning, without a fine, arrest or confiscation of the car. If this scenario is realized I promise that on July 1, 2020 I will …
What do you promise for the sake of the positive scenario?