Hello, everyone. This pandemic is shaping up to be a watershed event, as everyone had suspected to start with. It is emerging as a solution for all the ills and malaise of modern society.
You see, people are so fed up, so alienated and broken, so atomized and lonely, so frightened, so disgusted by how things stand up to be. They hope that this tiny organism, this wannabe packet of RNA, this coronavirus, will do to humanity what a much larger organism, Donald Trump, did to Washington. Dry the swamp. Dry the swamp by decimating an excess billion or two of us, and by reminding everyone of what really matters in life.
And so this emissary of the grim reaper, this relentless killer, is supposed now to restore solidarity, family, friendship, community and harmony as we all mobilize, put our forces together to eradicate it. The coronavirus will bring out the best in us.
And this nihilistic state of mind results in the most counterintuitive phenomenon. People violently castigate anyone who tries to restore calm and good sense to the conversation. They mob, humiliate, slander and threaten those people who do not subscribe to Apocalypse. They gang on psychologists and medical doctors and politicians who attempt to offset the rampant irrationality and the panic which have swept across large swaths of humanity.
The coronavirus, in a way, is the last utopia of these people, their only hope, and they resent any endeavor to take it away from them. The virus is death, and death is peace, and thus the end to all the troubles and troubles without and within.
These people just want to withdraw into the toilet-papered fortresses and await an ineluctable deliverance. And woe unto you if you try to bring these people back into this valley of tears. They have had enough. Even COVID-19 is better than reality as it is now.
And so this pandemic will be followed by a massive global but short recession that will probably last two quarters. The global economy will then rebound very strongly and enjoy a period of prosperity. And this reversal of fortunes will be brought on by unprecedented targeted fiscal expansion packages, coupled with extreme monetary quantitative easing in a zero-interest rate environment worldwide.
As people seize the day, covet with unbridled, credit-fueled hedonism, a consumption tsunami will deplete private savings to their lowest levels ever. And this is exactly what happened in Europe after the Black Death, a period of 200 years of unprecedented prosperity. And this is what happened in the United States in the roaring 1920s, the Gilded Age, following World War I and the Spanish Flu.
Pandemics, one pea is followed by another pea. Pandemics are followed by prosperity.
But there are three other ineluctable outcomes to this pandemic.
Number one, a baby boom, corona babies.
Number two, an explosive rise in divorces as people emerge from an enforced sharing of living quarters with no longer so intimate partners. They are crammed into dysfunctional already dead relationships and marriages. These are unstable and dysfunctional environments which would breed an epidemic or a pandemic of divorces and breakups.
And the third effect is a sharp rise in the incidence of reactive mental health problems, such as mood and anxiety disorders, as well as a marked deterioration in the condition of any how fragile, broken and damaged individuals.
So people with borderline personality disorder, people with depression and survivors of CPTSD, they are all being pressured right now by the quarantine, by social distancing. They're all being pressured and brought to the breaking point andbeyond the edge. We will witness this wave of disintegration and decompensation and acting out in hundreds of millions of people.
And then there's a fourth effect.
Politicians all over the world are abusing the pandemic to become effective dictators. Take Hungary, for example, and it's really a random example. This is a 10 million strong country. There's a population of 9.8 million people. And it has had only 130 cases of COVID-19. 130 cases. About five to eleven of these cases are considered critical. Depends on how you define the word critical.
And at this stage, after three months, there have been only six deaths. I repeat these numbers. It's a country of ten million people, a European Union country with open borders until recently. And it has had six deaths in three months, possibly five.
They have a prime minister. His name is Victor Orban. And he announced that all the hospitals are full and collapsing. Five, maybe eleven critical cases and all the hospitals are full and collapsing. He closed the borders of this EU country, isolated it totally. And he assumed the powers of a dictator in all but name.
The largely state-infested media in Hungary whipped up a frenzy of hysteria and panic in order to implement and resisted a xenophobic agenda that Orban has been unsuccessfully trying to impose for years now. So this was his opportunity, his window of opportunity.
The pandemic became an opportunity. It's like the famous Chinese ideogram, which is frequently misinterpreted, which denotes crisis. And many people in the West say wrongly that it also denotes opportunity.
But in the case of coronavirus, also a Chinese product, it works. The crisis is a major opportunity for authoritarian dictators. In the process, the institutions of the state and of civil society are all but humbled, cowed or eradicated altogether.
And really, I have nothing against Hungary. Of course, I actually love the country and I have nothing against Orban. Orban is a random choice. Dozens of political leaders all over the world are acting even more egregiously to usurp power.
I doubt if this pernicious process is either temporary or reversible. I think it's we are undergoing a shift, a transformation of the geopolitical and political landscape that would last for generations.
In truth, based on data, the pandemic is completely over. Also in the United Kingdom and also in the United States, the growth in case numbers has to do with testing. Simply the United States finally started to test people.
In the UK, the situation is reasonable. The pandemic is in full force only in Italy.
And so this pandemic scare is transforming into an Italian epidemic. The number of new deaths in the last 24 hours outside Italy is down dramatically. So is the number of new cases. People are hysterical, so they do not pay attention to these data.
Still, I'm not underestimating the risk. It is the second time in human history that Italy is serving as a reservoir of a deadly agent. We have to go back 700 years. In the 14th century, the Black Death, the plague, at that time known as the pestilence, spread from Italy to the rest of Europe between 1347 and 1348. It decimated between one third and one half of Europe's population. Not a joke. And it all started in Italy.
The very term quarantine was first used when Venice prohibited the entry of ships carrying sick people into its port for a period of 40 days. Still, looking at the medical picture, COVID-19, coronavirus, a coronavirus, a coronavirus, a member of a family, failed to propagate, failed to create a viable human reservoir.
The pandemic will be over within a matter of days in mind, maybe by the end of April latest. A number of new cases will collapse precipitously, and so will the number of new deaths.
To survive and thrive, especially with the changing weather, the virus needs to mutate and presto. There are only two strains of the virus out there, strain S and strain L. It's an impressive feat for an upstart zoonotic virus. Zoonotic means from animal to human. So it's pretty impressive that the virus succeeded within the first two weeks of its detection to generate a second strain, but then it stopped, and there are only two strains.
A future mutation admittedly can be far more virulent than the relatively harmless variant that we are faced with now. No one is ruling this out. Mutation is the main risk. This is exactly what happened with the Spanish flu in 1918-1920. The virus mutated, and then there were 50 to 100 million people dead worldwide within months, literally. Most viruses hibernate, they go latent or dormant, and then they resurface.
But COVID-19, exactly like MERS and even its close relative, SARS, COVID-19 did not secure the requisite number of hosts in order to implement this strategy of so-called hibernation. In this sense, COVID-19 became a self-limiting virus.
And finally, there's, of course, the possibility that COVID-19 will team up with a bacterium with a germ. A germ hybrid, a germ virus hybrid, would be invincible as the couple leverages the skill sets of a life form coupled with an RNA payload. That's also a possibility. Mutation, hybrids.
We are not out of the woods yet. In the meantime, with our impatience, ignorance, risk aversion, sheer panic, and narcissism, we have ruined our economies. We have rent our social fabric. Many, many will die as the outcomes of these lamentable policies unfold inexorably.
The virus is the least of our troubles now. We have seen the enemy and it is we. What is in store?
Previous coronaviruses usually had two waves. This wave, the current wave, will probably last until June 2020, I believe earlier. The next wave will start in October and November 2020 and will last until the summer of 2021. And the second onslaught may well start in China once more, although it's far more likely that it will start in Italy.
But of course, we will be much better prepared when the second wave hits. So it's far less dangerous. And then COVID-19 will be gone forever. Exactly like SARS. When was the last time you heard of SARS or MERS? They go away. It has to do with the dynamics of the coronavirus family of viruses. Reservoirs, fluid immunity, self-limitation, concepts from epidemiology and virology. Viruses are amazing. They are not really lifeforms. They are more like weaponized packages or missiles with payloads of RNA. RNA is a genetic material. It's the kind of protein that translates DNA to other proteins.
And then there are prions. Prions are deformed, highly infectious, non-destructible proteins. And these are not even viruses. They are not even payloads. They don't contain any genetic material. Prions are really dangerous because they cannot be destroyed, not even with extreme heat.
So to summarize, between June and November 2020, expect to see no new infections. And the virus will completely vanish after July 2021.
But the disruptive psychological effects of these health crises and the strain on interpersonal relationships exacerbated by the measures taken by governments all over the world and by the forthcoming global recession, these outcomes, including mental health manifestations such as clinical depression, anxiety disorders, these will be felt long after the virus is gone. And possibly the greatest effect will be on the increasingly more atomized social fabric.
Alienated and paranoid people will henceforth avoid each other, having realized that they can leverage cyberspace to become totally self-sufficient.
So why bother to meet other people?
Many people will be rendered hybrid, narcissistic and schizoid, lone wolves or grandiose lone wolves.
Aids had the same effect on sex in the 1980s and 1990s. I'm old enough to remember. People have adopted prophylactic celibacy. They went online to consume porn to date and to socialize. Meeting other people, sharing bodily fluids had become untenable.
For many years, there was no cure for AIDS. AIDS was a death sentence.
And sex has never recovered since. What remains of human interaction is next.
Coronavirus will do away of what's left of our social networking. Our species is being transformed by viruses, the relentless and mindless vectors and carriers of evolution.
So it's normal that the coronavirus will change both our cultural evolution and possibly our genetics.
And what about the Black Death?
It's being banded around a lot. Spanish Flu and Black Death and Spanish Flu.
Well, the Black Death, an epidemic of bubonic plague in the 14th century, as I said, decimated between one-third and one-half of Europe's population. And yet, it was the best thing to have happened to mankind in many centuries. The depleted number of survivors shared in the vast fortunes of the deceased, laying the foundation for modern entrepreneurial capitalism.
The added physical spaces and vacancies made available via the devastation of numerous households. These spurred on urban renewal and magisterial architecture on an unprecedented scale. The crumbling authority of the Church and its minions led to reformist religious stirrings and the emergence of the Renaissance in arts and sciences. Laborers and women saw their standing in society much improved as the scarcity of the workforce rendered them much sought-after commodities. Wages, for example, shot up.
Seven centuries later, an inflation of humans led to an ineluctable devaluation and may have erased, at least, the last one of these achievements, the latter one, wage growth.
So the Black Death led to wage explosion in some cases, in some professions, for example, farmlands. Wages tripled.
But as our numbers increased, at that time, there were a billion people. Today, there's 8 billion.
This is an inflation of humans. When humans become commodified, wage growth slowed and then reversed. Wages have stagnated in direct correlation with the explosion in global population.
The social fabric itself has been rent by the mounting pressure of an annual net growth in population which exceeds the citizenry of Germany. Interpersonal relationships, social organizational units, tolerant coexistence, peaceful multiculturalism and diversity, they've all been crumbling worldwide in the past decade, at least.
So the Black Death, an epidemic of bubonic plague which ravaged both Europe and the Mediterranean, it's 1347 to 1351, killed one quarter to one third of a population, 25 million people. It's the equivalent of 250 million people today. It took 150 years for the population to recover to its pre-epidemic levels.
Scholars believe that the plague emanated from the Middle East through southern Russia between the Black and Caspian Seas. But the reservoir was kept in Italy.
When the first wave passed, Italy was still being ravaged. And it is from Italy that it re-emerged.
And that's the risk we are facing today, exactly.
Contemporaries did not use the term Black Death.
They called it the pestilence, or the great mortality.
And they regarded it as a divine punishment for humanity's sins.
Facing COVID-19 and coronavirus, I can tell you, I regard it as well as a punishment.
But not for religious sins, for our social sins.
We have sinned against each other.
And the name of this sin, the name of the beast, is narcissism.