Coronavirus Pandemic – Issues and challenges

Publish date: Fri, 10 Apr 2020, 05:54 PM
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By now everyone should know about Covid 19 (CV19) pandemic. But some Australian youngster caught partying at the Sunshine coast recently, said they were not aware. Well, what can I say …

This pandemic throws out a whole lot of issues, but before I wonder into this, I would like to share some observations of this CV19: -

  1. It affected rich nations (regions) more than poorer nations / regions (see charts)
  2. Elderly is the most vulnerable, especially when cooped up in nursing homes
  3. Older nations are currently more affected than younger nations (using median age)
  4. Obesity also love CV19 (US come to mind where younger cohort death is higher)
  5. Australia and New Zealand have done much better than the rest of OECD countries
  6. US & Australia have publicly shown “everyone for themselves”, US by stopping sell of face masks to Canada and Australia asking visitors (& overseas students) to go home
  7. Finger pointing by Western countries (US & UK are the main culprits while there are also Ukraine, Brazil and nearer home Indonesia)
  8. Constant negative comments on China’s data, donations, draconian lockdown and anything to do with communism (North Korea and Russia are also at the receiving end).








           Worldometers & chart by Author




          Worldometers & chart by Author


          Worldometers & chart by Author

New words / phrases

From this CV 19, there are several new words that are becoming more common: -

  • Pandemic, Social distancing, quarantine, abundance of cautions (just say scare)
  • Triage - the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties; who lives & who dies basically
  • Resurgence, self-isolation, lockdown

Please feel free to add..



  1. Gathering (indoor), be it social or family, promotes the spread of CV19, eg. churches, cruise ships, tabligh, Orthodox Jews, pubs/clubs (mostly in the colder countries). So, the idea that CV19 would die out during summer is wrong, because during the colder months, people just gather indoor more than the usual (obviously) and therefore hasten the spread not only of CV19 but flu and any other diseases that is transmitted by droplets. Thus, SOCIAL DISTANCING (is born, i.e. the phrase)
  2. The rich, while they are rich, has certain peculiarities that poor do not have:
    1. Obesity leading to higher diabetic, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and other “personal” diseases.
    2. Older population adding pressure to healthcare systems (hospitals, nursing homes,etc)
    3. Individualism leading to “depositing” the old in nursing homes
    4. Decades of overpromising politicians and under-resourcing nursing homes (the horror stories coming out of Italy, Spain and France and soon US as well)
  3. Asian culture versus Western individualism. Is this a cause or effect. Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and others had SARS experience. While this (SARS) was largely absent in the West (except Canada which is doing not too bad in the OECD cohort)
  4. The schism in States versus Federal especially in the US and other federalism. This led to fight for vital medical supplies. There were frictions earlier in Australia but somehow they came to their senses and had been more cohesive off late leading to coordinated responses.
  5. The western countries while always professing the good of democracies are actually very ugly and not reliable at all. When come to the crunch, it is everyone for themselves.
  6. The finger pointing manifested from the failure of the West’s preparedness to the pandemic compared with what China has done. They, the West, just cannot be seen to be the weaker party. So, they have to “seed” doubt into the general public that China is at fault and cannot be trusted (including their donation).



Based on the above observation and insights, these are the following issues & challenges, not complete but at the top of the mind:

  1. How will the various nations recover from the CV19 pandemic?
  2. The weaken West, especially US, continuous negative narratives of anything China – where will it lead to?
  3. How China reacts to the continuous negative sound byte


As US join the CV19 pandemic later, I will use it as the baseline for the recovery. Of course, there are also India, Indonesia and the African countries. Based on above observations, they are poorer and younger, CV19 should not affect them so much compared with what is happening and going to happen in the US.

Wuhan lockdown is the (only) baseline. Eleven weeks from lockdown to relaxation. US is not practising the kind of lockdown like Wuhan – again due to their individualism, higher obese population, lack of cohesive response etc, would take longer. How much longer, two time would be a fair guess. So, to go to zero case like Wuhan might occur at end-August. Of course, one hope it will be earlier and might be earlier if they can overcome the factors noted.

This is based on age old methods: social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine. There is no short cut here.

If you think drugs (vaccine) can help soon, think again (I do need to go into details but suffice to say that fear of losing the US presidential re-election makes a desperate man indeed, and desperate man do desperate things).

Again, of course there are other method. TCM, antibodies from recovered persons, etc, that are suggested, some more efficacy than others.

Resurgence is always there if one relaxes too early.

In China, recovery and returning to normal appears to be orchestrated like an army drill. This would of course minimize disruption and suppress resurgence but not eliminate it. Have to be vigilant, always!

Europe would be quite similar to China but not as orchestrated. Denmark and Austria appear to be leading the charge here.

Taiwan seem to have missed all the “fun” and should resume normality the earliest.

Singapore appears a first mover but was thwack, attacked from the flank. The perpetual rival, Hong Kong might get their act together and relaxes first.

While I implied earlier that India, Indonesia and African countries would recover earlier than US, they will have their own” stories” to tell as time goes by. The Australian ambassador to Indonesia has already gone back to Australia. Reason suggested is the usual poor healthcare system but on a darker side, potential social problems – riots.

A full recovery would probably be next year when the memories fade away and the urge to travel return. Yes it will only happen when travel by planes become common again.

Continual attack on China – where will it lead to

Since the “trade war” (end 2017) between US and China, even before, there has been a low hum, now becoming louder by the day on the “ills” of China.

Today, it is reaching almost a shrill.

ZTE, Huawei, DJI and a host of other companies, are a national threat to US.

Please, do not forget that US has been “listening” in to, even close friends’ (e.g. Merkel) conversations, (thanks to Edward Snowden info) long before these Chinese companies become a national threat. That is to say, CISCO and other US companies had been helping US eavesdrop. So, yes, it is a national threat, should all the telcos change to equipment (cheaper & better) from these Chinese companies. US may not be able to eavesdrop anymore, so a threat to national security.

And US is also feeling threaten in losing its pre-eminent position in the world.

Peter Drucker wrote in 1954:


Through a lack of vision and lack of effort as Drucker said, US is slowly but surely doomed to decline.

Another startling revelation learned recently from Dambisa Moyo (see pic - lovely lady, ya),

an Oxford and Harvard economic scholar from Zambia said, “for the first time in the 242 years since America was declared independent, this generation of Americans will be less educated than the previous one


The pandemic has already shown us, US First is now set, there is no changing course regardless who won the presidential election.

All these point to The Thucydides Trap (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thucydides)

And with a less educated cohort, the resort to military solutions becomes more and more the norm rather than the exception (as US government lack vision as can be seen in the latest fiasco of the sacking of the nuclear aircraft-carrier Captain Crozier and later resignation of the person that sacked the Captain). It showed disarray verging on panic.

Another rational is that US still hold the military advantage (by far) and better use it before they lose that edge too. Again, here, there are many narratives to the contrary, especially in the US intelligent services recently promoting the use of privateers against China just because it is still legal in US. (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3079303/us-military-researchers-call-use-privateers-against-china)

The report suggests the US government issue letters of marque – a commission authorising privately owned ships (privateers) to capture enemy merchant ships. In another words, US sponsored pirates to capture Chinese merchant ships and enjoy the spoils (cargo). This showed total lack of ideas / vision.

This is from a power that has 11 nuclear powered aircraft-carrier group and countless nuclear-powered submarines with enormous destructive power, etc.

The (negative) rhetoric (against China) will continue long after the pandemic is over. Especially this election year in US. Everyone (republican or democrate) has to bash China least being branded a traitor.


How will China react

So far China, run by technocrats (engineers, medical experts and such) had performed near miracle during the pandemic. Building hospitals in days, rushing extra doctors and nurses from other parts to Wuhan and so on. One can read the many stories on social media for years to come.

But there were a lot of suffering too, especially in the beginning of the pandemic. Much of which did not make it to main stream media (social or otherwise).

Isaac Newton said when there is an action there will be an equal and opposite reaction.

Chinese is just as human as the American is.  The West called it populism; Chinese called it nationalism. Can it be controlled??

Of late, there is push-back from China to the many attacks. For example, the conspiracy theory that the CV19 virus actually came from US germ warfare lab that was closed down in late 2019. This push back is carried out by younger foreign ministry cadre (Zhao Lijian, 47 years old). The China ambassador to US, Cui Tiankai, 68 years old, did not play ball. It appeared that China is trying to cool things.

Why I brought this up? Japan started a war with Russia and later China way back in the 1900s and eventually attacked US in 1941 was attributed to young nationalist who thought that they can beat anyone, especially after they saw how Japan won the earlier war with Russia (Jared Diamond’s books “Collapse, Upheaval”)

Age, thus experience, especially living experience – living through hardship is missing in the younger cohort. Thus, chance of mis-steps is much higher that can escalate to war.



This pandemic has caused a lot of economic hardship. What is known today is peanut compared to what will eventually happen.

To give a flavour – the cruise ship industry. Most if not all the vessels are registered in low-tax, lax labour regulations, etc countries to maximize profit. Now, with it considered as a petri dish for CV19 virus, recovery of this hospitality sector will be very slow if at all. No western governments will give any support to owners of these vessels after all they have not paid any taxes. This is one of the failures of globalization, tax avoidence to the hilt.

As of yesterday (9 April), US has 15 million registered unemployed. It is going to get worst.

France is in recession after recording -6% in its first quarter. It shrank 0.1% in quarter 4 2019. The last 2 weeks of March, economic activities plunged 32%. It estimates that for every 2 weeks lockdown, the economy will lose 1.5%

The world is 100% in recession, no doubt at all. How deep? I think very deep.

I have been through 3 recessions,

80s – too young to know much

98 – see you at 5, Soro said; a lot of people out of work across SE Asia, social unrest in Indonesia lead to change in government, unrest in Malaysia; overall lead to stronger banking systems in SE Asia

08 – trade came to a halt as banks do not trust counter parties’ ability to pay, mostly a western problem, Malaysian like most Asian still have jobs


20 – whole world mandated to stop by governments (induced coma) for at least till end August (my prediction). Sitting doing nothing while some will starve, riot is a distinct possibility, large money printing going on, high government debts, lower for longer interest rate (so large debt’s interest can be paid) but inflation might creep in fast as production (of food etc) curtailment will lead to shortage when demand picks up.



Covid 19 appears to mainly favoured the rich nations, older and obese population. The notion that it might go away in the summer is misplaced as people tend to congregate indoors during the colder months help CV19, flu and other disease to spread (by droplets) through close proximity. And not because the virus love the cold.

Prevention by vaccine is far away, cure might be by TCM, antibodies and others with different efficacy. So, for now, social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine is the sure way – no short cut to a possible end of the pandemic by end of August 2020.

The CV19 pandemic has brought out the ugliness of the Western democracies. Everyone for themselves. Finger-pointing to cover shortfall of preparedness for the pandemic (or any other shortfalls) is the norm.

Struggle between the West and China, a growing power, had been ongoing before the pandemic and has now reached a high-pitched level. With constant pandering to the US voters that is less educated than before, US felt under threat despite its huge military advantage; a lack of vision and effort in leadership is undermining its pre-eminent position in the world. A Thucydides Trap in the making.

China’s response to the increasing badgering from the West in general, US in particularly, has become more nationalistic rather than the steady old way of reasoning. This might lead ultimately to WAR.

On the economic front, high unemployment is on the way. Some economic sectors might not recover. There might be social unrest too. High debts being incurred will cause lower interest rate for longer but lower demand now is forcing reduced production that may lead to shortage when demand recovers causing inflation.

We will be tested like never before in the months / year to come.



I am not a medical person but just an observer, looking at all possible available data and deducing what are the factors that control the spread of CV19.

Obviously, observations and insight will change due to new data becoming available.

Looking forward to readers sharing their observation / insights too.

Many thanks for reading.




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