Over the past few days, a friend has alerted to me the existence of a novel, extremely deadly virus taking Wuhan, China by storm. I don't want to make wild predictions or sound paranoid, even though by nature I am actually quite paranoid, but this seems like something that will have a significant effect on our lives in the future. I feel like I have to say something because none of my friends or family believe me.
As of yesterday, 41 people are dead in China as a result of this virus. It's currently being called the "Wuhan Coronavirus," but I expect that name to change once it goes global. The scariest aspects of this virus seem to be the fatality rate (approximately 3% as of writing), and the rate of spread (approximately 2-3 people infected per carrier as of writing). For reference, this looks a lot like the Spanish Flu that decimated the world in 1918.
At this rate, ignoring factors such as government intervention and genetic susceptibilities, I expect the US to be fully engulfed in this pandemic by March. And I don't expect the current administration to do much to mitigate this crisis.
What I expect from government officials and scientific "experts" is a naive, condescending response amounting to nothing more than "everything is fine, you're panicking over nothing, we know what we're doing." Of course, we all know that isn't true. The current Western system is fragile and based on an expectation of nothing going wrong. Unfortunately, this expectation of nothing going wrong is exactly the biggest weakness of the system.
I'm 21 years old. Though I indirectly lived through 2008 and other crises such as hurricane Katrina, I know enough to understand that the downplaying and apparent lack of concern coming from scientists/politicians is exactly the signal one needs to become concerned. No one is ready for this.
The Western world and markets are overleveraged, unsuspecting, and above all: fragile. I pray that this virus is handled in China and doesn't spread, but I'm not holding my breath. To show you how serious I am about this, I've begun buying N95 respirators and other supplies (much to the amusement of my friends and family). I suggest you do the same.