Of Contagion, Contagiosity and Lockdown Exit

Propelling intrigue and innuendo is the fact that the US toll is rising despite the fact that over 40 states in the US are under varying definitions of lockdown, and by one estimate over 300 million are under ‘shelter-at- home’ guidelines. In contrast, Korea did not witness large-scale shutdown of businesses.

The questions being debated have acquired a sense of urgency as more than two billion people, corralled and enclosed like animals in a zoo are looking for answers about normalcy and end of uncertainty. There is the contagion and then there is the contagiosity of issues — of life and livelihoods.

The virus defies the definitive. Ordinarily data should spell an equation. There is no single fatality rate. Yes, age is a good surrogate for frailty but existing conditions like diabetes, asthma make even the young vulnerable. Death could also be caused by lack of access to care or to a ventilator.

Production of essentials requires restoration of supply chain and, therefore, availability of factors of productivity. Most importantly income support and access to credit — forbearance on debt, zero interest loans for SMEs — for operating capital are essential.



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