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Economics, Prudence, and a Pandemic

Clinging on to orthodox fiscal prudence is not the best practice in the time of a pandemic.

It has been a little over a decade since the outbreak of the last global pandemic, the H1N1 swine flu in 2009–10, that the world faces yet another threat from the “novel” coronavirus 2019, the COVID-19. This time, however, not only is the rate of the “global” onslaught of the virus unprecedented—with a current estimate of its mortality rate being 2% vis-à-vis the 0.02% from the H1N1—but the response of the states and their healthcare systems to the crisis has been rather tardy.

The assiduity with which the genetic sequences of the H1N1 virus were released to the public in 2009 could potentially be due to the global healthcare systems being better “prepared” for the 2009 scenario, having encountered the worst H1N1 outbreak almost a century ago during the 1918 Spanish flu. Such has not been the case for covid-19, where there is no clarity regarding the significance of the (usual) oral–faecal route of infection, the full breadth of symptoms is yet to be determined, and above all, it is considered more contagious than the previous pestilence, presumably because of the dearth of herd immunity against the infection.

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Updated On : 20th May, 2020


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