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Coronavirus And CEOs

The case for calm

When is a Black Swan really a Lame Duck in disguise? The question seems pertinent following the news reporting on COVID-19, the pathogen associated with the coronavirus outbreak. For weeks, the news media has whipped up fears over the virus. While its 2,700 fatalities and 80,000 infected people are an unfolding human tragedy, the numbers are a trifle of the 400,000 deaths and 3 million to 5 million infections annually attributed to a more common virus, influenza.

This comparison does not imply that COVID-19 is not a health crisis worthy of media attention or public concern. It’s just hard to accept the alarmist rhetoric that the global economy will implode because of its reported adverse impact on manufacturing assembly lines and supply chains. Which virus truly is a threat? “It is the one we are all familiar with and the one people tend to not be afraid of,” said vaccine and infectious disease immunologist Steven Szczepanek at the University of Connecticut told MDLinx on February 15.

No articles are written about the impact of the flu on global supply chains, even after a particularly nasty seasonal outbreak. More to the point is that supply chains have been built to withstand most any disruption and, in particular, epidemics. Lessons had been learned from the far more devastating Swine Flu pandemic in 2009 (between 11 percent and 21 percent of the world’s population contracted the disease) and the SARS epidemic that preceded in 2003.

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