Is Covid-19 a tweet from God?

J Mulraj | Updated on March 06, 2020 Published on March 06, 2020

The coronavirus will definitely wreak havoc over the next few months but will ultimately come under control. Perhaps it is God’s way to teach mankind some lessons. Perhaps we should learn them. Some are:

Don’t eat everything that moves: WHO describes the coronavirus as a zoonotic disease, that is, transmitted from animals to humans, possible through diet. Maybe God is tweeting that men should reduce, and if possible, obviate a non-vegetarian diet.

In a debate ‘Should Animals be off the Menu’ Peter Wollen, an Australian environmentalist, pointed out some reasons they should. Some 50,000 litres of precious water is needed to produce one kg of beef, he said, depleting acquifier reserves and threatening our future. This is shameful.

He also states that if everyone became vegetarian, there would be no food shortage!

So, in addition to the threat of spreading zoonotic diseases, the eating of anything that has life also results in water and food shortages.

Spend more on the human race than on the arms race: Egged on by the Military-Industrial Complex, developed nations are spending huge amounts on ever-more technologically advanced weapons.

Perhaps God is tweeting that humankind should reconsider their priorities. After all, He says, the F-15s, the S-400s, nor hypersonic glider missiles could prevent the coronavirus from spreading across continents, could they? Better to reduce spending on the arms race and spend more on health, education and hygiene, to avoid such contagions.

In a conference call with analysts, tropical disease expert Prof Sir Jeremy Farrar, of Wellcome group, stated that the virus cannot be stopped from spreading. China has, he stated, done remarkable work in locking down an entire province with 11 million people, to contain the spread of the virus, and had also quickly identified, and communicated to other countries, the genome sequence. It would have been impossible for any other country to not only shut off 11 million people, but also have the technological capability to quickly identify the genome.

Nonetheless, Sir Jeremy feels the virus would affect 25-40 per cent of global population, (1.7-3.2 billion people) . The current death rate is 3.3 per cent; so there would be many fatalities.

Maybe God is tweeting humankind not to be so arrogant and spread so much hatred, but to live in harmony. The lesson is not being learnt; witness the senseless war in Syria which has resulted in mass migration of displaced Syrians into Europe and is, even now, a huge issue as Turkey is weaponising immigrants, pushing them into Greece.

The biggest pandemic was the Spanish flu, in 1918, which affected 500 million and killed 50-100 million. It was globally transmitted due to troop movements to fight WW1. Again, a tweet from God to avoid conflicts; but not heeded.

Will we heed these lessons and be prepared for the next global calamity? At a recent conference on coronavirus organised by ORF in conjunction with the Chinese Consulate in Mumbai, experts on the panel stated that Indians are poor at record keeping. How, then, will we learn from past mistakes?

Of course, the economic impact of the spread of the virus would be huge. The OECD has lowered its forecast of global GDP growth from 2.9 per cent to 1.5 per cent in 2020.

The US Fed cut interest rates by 50 basis points (0.5 per cent) but the stock markets, after a very brief rally, dropped. It is a supply-side problem, which can’t be cured by printing more money.

So, perhaps we need to rethink the desire to be overly dependent on a single source of supply.

Economist Nuriel Roubini expects global stock markets to drop 40 per cent due to the virus. This will also impact Indian markets. It may be advisable to become light.

And God, please don’t send more tweets through such viruses. Trump’s are bad enough!

(The writer is India Head — Finance, Asia/Haymarket. The views are personal.)


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Published on March 06, 2020
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