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Ten Moments of Truths for the Covid-19 Crisis


  • Jacques Bughin


Chinese authorities acknowledged human transmissions of the disease a few weeks later. Contamination cases climbed from 270 by January 2020 to about 50,000 in the Hubei province, three weeks later—a multiplier of 200. Covid-19 has now been spreading across all continents, affecting 215 countries. The virus on the verge to claim 500,000 official deaths by end of June 2020, among 10 million records of infections. Viruses are part of our life, but some have been mutating into pandemics with exponential attack on human society and with major societal disruptions. The plague of Athens caused by typhus about 430 years BCE led to the fall of the Golden Age of Athens. The Antonin Plague (at about 180 years CE), caused by measles or smallpox, devastated the Roman Empire (Hurbin, 2011). Not far away from us, the Spanish Influenza broke out by 1918, and killed between 40-70 million people worldwide in 10 months, before retracting. Only regions with active measures to protect the population escaped the large recession that the influenza entailed (Correia et al, 2020). Closer to us, HIV in the eighties made significant casualties. If antiretroviral drugs were eventually found to contain the lethal attack, more than 20 million people out of 40 million HIV sufferers have passed away in 20 years according to UNAIDS. HIV is still the main cause of active population death in some sub-Saharan countries such as Zimbabwe or South Afrika, preventing their economic take off (Mboup et alii, 2006). Covid-19 has joined the club of exceptional outbreaks, and is becoming the 7th case of a virus with excess mortality rate above 0,1% since the 17th century according to the WHO (Table 1). Notably, it is already reaching the death toll of the 1957 H2N2 in the US,- and may have boosted the world death rate by about 25% in the recent six months.

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  • Jacques Bughin, 2020. "Ten Moments of Truths for the Covid-19 Crisis," iCite Working Papers 2020-040, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:ict:wpaper:2013/312099

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    1. Yann Algan & Sergei Guriev & Elias Papaioannou & Evgenia Passari, 2017. "The European Trust Crisis and the Rise of Populism," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 48(2 (Fall)), pages 309-400.
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    pandemic; covid-19; digitization; economic resilience;
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