The world has never before seen a global economic shock like that from COVID-19. It is still far from clear when and how it will end. But at least some of the key parameters for determining how we should design our response – both to save the most lives and minimize the economic loss – are becoming clearer.
What we know so far
The disease is highly contagious, much more so than seasonal flu. A high proportion of the world’s population may ultimately be infected, although, for some 80 per cent the risk of death – or even serious illness – is thought to be low.
Mortality risk among the elderly – those over 70 – and those with underlying health conditions is much higher but can be reduced significantly provided there is adequate intensive care capacity in the health system to treat all those who need it.