Governments Need to Wake Up
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the coronavirus, it’s that governments around the world are unprepared for disaster. China’s initial response to the coronavirus was to suppress news of the infection, which ultimately enabled its spread. The coronavirus has now infected people across the globe and is killing US citizens. Governments have not prioritized disaster preparedness and we’re now paying the price with our lives and our finances. Hopefully, this disaster will force governments to wake up and prepare for the next one. I’ll share why disaster preparedness is so important and what we can do to improve our chance of surviving the next disaster.
Globalization is Creating More Risk
As the world becomes increasingly integrated, it becomes more complex. Complexity gives rise to risk. Back in 2002, the SARS epidemic affected 26 countries and infected about 8,000 people. Fear propagated the world’s inhabitants at a quicker pace than the virus itself. Lives were lost. Markets entered correction territory. However, the virus was contained in relatively short order. Markets rebounded and life went on. This is not the case roughly two decades later.
The novel coronavirus was initially compared to the SARS coronavirus. Market prices remained stubbornly high as investors thought this, too, shall pass. Investors were wrong. In 2020, China is a global manufacturing hub. Supply chains are dependent on Chinese production capacity. If production capacity becomes compromised, companies around the globe suffer. Additionally, the middle class has expanded since 2002. Travel is accessible to a larger population of people, which makes the spread of viruses more likely. This has proven to be the case as COVID-19 flirts with pandemic potential. Disaster preparedness must become a top priority in the era of a globalized society. The failure to prepare resulted in the failure to contain the coronavirus.
Global Coordination Is Necessary
China’s suppression of the truth about the coronavirus was a major early misstep. In fact, this is likely the reason why the coronavirus spread so far and quickly outside the Wuhan Province. Having said that, China’s tough decision to cut Wuhan off from the rest of the country was both a bold and effective measure in containing the spread. Few new cases have emerged in the region. The rest of the world is now contending with the possibility, if not reality, of widespread infection. Decisive action needs to be taken. Transparency is essential. Yes, the short term pain will be immense. But had early preventative measures been taken, we wouldn’t be on the brink of a pandemic.
The only antidote to the risk introduced by globalization is coordination. Disaster preparedness needs to be a global effort. Governments must agree on the best way to contain the spread of the next pandemic. Whether the next novel virus emerges in the United States, China, or another country, the response must be the same. Immediate quarantine, significant investment in containment efforts, and transparent reporting. More importantly, we need to begin investing in the supplies and infrastructure necessary to combat the next pandemic. Funds should also be put aside to help the developing world fight a deadly outbreak, since their suffering will be disproportionately greater.
Disaster Preparedness Is the Key to Our Continued Survival
The truth is, we’re lucky. COVID-19 doesn’t have a high mortality rate. While its virulence and incubation period are problematic, COVID-19 is not nearly as lethal as SARS or MERS. Will we be so lucky the next time? There will be other novel viruses that infect humans. The plague and the Spanish flu came before the coronavirus and other viruses will inevitably follow. If we don’t prepare for them, the human race may not survive. If there is a silver lining to COVID-19, it’s that our lack of preparation for pandemic suppression has been made glaringly obvious. We need to learn our lesson. The next threat may be the last.
Do you have thoughts on our level of disaster preparedness? Leave a comment below or contact me directly.