The History of Viruses and their Impact on Economy

A Recap of the Previous Recessions

Vennela Boppa,03-Apr-2020

The history of deadly viral disease outbreaks like Ebola, and plague had already impacted the economy for a certain period of time in the past. But the new outbreak of virus COVID-19 is rising faster globally impacting every sectors.The outbreak of such viruses hitting the economy,employment,health care and global trades, due to which the supply chain of goods and services impacts from affected areas. As a result investors get into high risk and face huge loss on their investments in financial markets.


    COVID-19 is an infectious disease, symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. This majorly affects the respiratory system. So far there is no vaccine to treat the only way is to follow self quarantine and social distancing.

    COVID-19 (2019 - 2020)

    The first case of coronavirus was suspected in Wuhan, China. Within a shorter time period the spread of virus was greater in the area of Wuhan and other parts of China. Also it gradually started to spread in different parts of the world. As of April 3rd, 2020, there are 1,015,877 cases and 53,280 fatalities and 213,499 who have recovered.

    Economic Impact Due to COVID-19

    Financial Impact due to this virus was immediate. Initially Hong Kong’s Hang Seng,China Index immediately dropped to 9% since January. 16 peak. On March 9, 2020, the price of Brent oil fell to $20.09 a barrel, a 71% drop from its Jan. 6 peak of $70.25.

    As the spread of disease increases globally,The demand for supply chains has lowered. Also Travel and entertainment industries plummeted at first as people stayed at their homes. The shutdown of airports took a huge toll on airline industries and could lose up to $113 billion, while the film industry lost up to $5 billion. The global economy is expected to fall as much as $2 trillion in 2020.

    The sudden crush of stock markets put investors at high risk. The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke a record 2,013.76 points on March 9, 2020. On March 11, it was at 23,553.22, down 20.3% from the Feb.

    According to the Federal Reserve,the U.S unemployment rate could be 32.1% for the coming quarter. There could be a large layoff of the workforce in every sector as demand plummets.

    China, The first country hit, has already faced a devastating effect on the economy. In the first two months of 2020 China’s automobile sales and exports dropped by 80% and 17.2% respectively.The outbreak was first confirmed in Wuhan, the capital city of China, also the main hub for transportation.


    Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is a kind of coronavirus that includes fever and a dry cough and pneumonia.

    Fortunately the outbreak lasted not more than six months, between February 2003 and July 2003. There was a high mortality rate that created contracting the disease. Travel and retail sales were banned in the affected areas. The economy was fluctuating between $40 billion to $80 billion.

    The Plague

    The bubonic plague was first discovered in Europe. Due to this 40% of Europe’s population was killed between 1347 and 1352. The different parts of Europe like England, France, Italy, and Spain lost more than 50%-60% of their populations in just two years.This showed an worsened economic system.It took 200 years for cities to recover and regain their population. Further to attract migrants they have created exemptions on tax provided free housing and other facilities. Though Urban income hiked,the land remained as forest due to the lack of farmers.

    Ebola 2014 Epidemic

    The disease was first identified in Africa. The number of infected people was 28,639 and killed 11,316 in West Africa.Around the world, more than $3.6 billion was spent by countries fighting the epidemic. Many of the private industries lost half of its workforce.

    How Epidemics and Pandemics Affect Us

    Every year deadly epidemics and pandemics outbreak occur somewhere.These viruses are contagious some spread through direct connect and few are airborne diseases hence, it spreads from person to person to other countries in the world. Especially many of them transfer from animals.

    All such viruses so far in history killed millions of people across the world. If today’s society experienced a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 Spanish flu, Ebola and SARS it would kill millions of people and cost the world economy could cross more than $3 trillion. In the United States ,If this scenario occurs it would cause 1.9 million American deaths and cost the U.S. economy almost $200 billion which results in a huge economic crisis around the globe.

    Climate changes also play a huge role in the rise of new viruses. Melting of the permafrost is leading to the activation of various infectious diseases and viruses that have been dormant for many years. The irreparable damage caused by mankind to nature is leading to the climatic changes that in turn are turning out to be harmful to the human race.

    What You Can Do

    As always prevention is better than cure. Before anything it is better to take precautions like,

    1. Get a flu vaccine once in a year.
    2. It's always better to maintain social distance and avoid people with flu symptoms or any viral infections.
    3. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
    4. Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth. This helps keep germs out of your body.
    5. Make sure to include nutritious food along with physical fitness.

    If the pandemic is as bad as the 1918 Spanish flu, not to panic but better to have following things

    1. Gather the essential supplies, like extra food, water, and medicine.
    2. Make an emergency plan for your family.
    3. Build an emergency corpus fund.