February 2, 2020

FAST: China Constructs 1,000-Bed Emergency Coronavirus Hospital in Mere Days Amid Epidemic.

Related: Coronavirus Closes China to the World, Straining Global Economy. “A decade and a half ago, when the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak known as SARS rattled the world, China accounted for a relatively small part of the global economy. Today, it’s responsible for almost a fifth of global gross domestic product when adjusted for incomes – more than the U.S.’s 15% by the same measure, adding a morbid twist to the economic adage that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold. . . . China’s heavily-indebted economy has long been slowing. More recently, economists were rushing to boost predictions for Chinese growth this year on relief that Washington and Beijing had called a truce to their two-year trade war. Now the picture is changing rapidly as Chinese industrial activity and consumer spending slow. Ten economists surveyed on Friday by The Wall Street Journal lowered their expectations for first quarter Chinese growth by over a percentage point to a median 4.9%. Those forecast cuts were made hours before the U.S. airline announcements.”

Plus: 2nd Bay Area case of coronavirus confirmed in Santa Clara County; U.S. cases jump to 9.

Also: U.S. universities set up front-line defenses to keep coronavirus at bay. “More than 350,000 Chinese students are pursuing higher education in the United States and 10,000 American students are enrolled in academic programs in China. The sheer number of the students, many of whom have traveled to their home country in recent weeks, makes schools a potential incubator for a widespread outbreak in the United States, given the close proximity of dormitory life.”

And: Former HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D.: Coronavirus – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Not exactly related, but China-connected: Paradise Lost Looms for German Farmers as Swine Fever Nears.

UPDATE: Wuhan Coronavirus Looks Increasingly Like a Pandemic, Experts Say. “Rapidly rising caseloads alarm researchers, who fear the virus may make its way across the globe. But scientists cannot yet predict how many deaths may result.”

Some possibilities: (1) The Chinese are lying (or self-deluded) and it’s more lethal than their numbers show. Very bad. (2) Their numbers are roughly accurate, and it’s about as lethal as it looks. Bad, but not Very Bad. (3) The numbers are roughly accurate, but it’s more lethal in Chinese with lungs weakened by pollution and chain-smoking than it is in most other people. Probably the best case. At present, we don’t really know enough to choose. At the moment, (3) sounds pretty plausible to me, in which case we’ve got a very contagious but not very deadly disease. But (1) remains entirely possible. [UPDATE: From the comments: “(4) The number of deaths is accurate, but the number of cases is wildly underestimated, which means the virus is both more infectious and less dangerous than it seems right now — lots more people will get it than we think, but the percentage that will come to serious harm will be much smaller than we think.” Good point, though if the number is much higher, you can get to a large number of deaths with a much lower mortality percentage.]

Key bit: “An accurate estimate of the virus’s lethality will not be possible until certain kinds of studies can be done: blood tests to see how many people have antibodies, household studies to learn how often it infects family members, and genetic sequencing to determine whether some strains are more dangerous than others.”

Plus: “’In God we trust,’ Dr. Schaffner said. ‘All others must provide data.’”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Moore: Coronavirus ‘hurt Chinese economy very substantially.’

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