As the Tibetans say, “Tomorrow will be worse.” March 3rd there were less than 100 known cases of Covid-19 outside of China, and the only lockdown was a few tens of millions of people in Hubei Province.
April 3rd, over a million known cases, over 55,000 dead, and over 4 billion people locked down. We knew a pandemic was eventually coming, but the speed of this particular pandemic has been staggering.
That speed is where the disconnect comes between what needs to be done and what governments are capable of doing. That speed is also where the disconnect comes from those of us trying to think one step ahead of the virus and others who took the month of March to finally realize there is a problem worth solving.
All finger pointing and blame aside, April will be worse. Far worse. Not only because every hospital bed outside of China, South Korea, and Japan will be full, but because by the start of April, Covid-19 was all but a handful of countries.
The statistics shared by China are very likely doctored, but there is no doubt that country knows how to count their citizens. The big February-March outbreaks were then primarily in Asian Tigers, Western Europe, the U.S., Canada, and Australia, all countries wealthy enough to operate testing labs and to fund multiple levels of health departments. Thus when Johns Hopkins publishes its daily numbers, they are close to accurate.
That accuracy ends in April as the pandemic spreads across Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. By the end of April, the total infections will be in the hundreds of millions. But most won’t be listed on any official report.
The multitude of cases will be in the urban slums, in the peri-urban slums, and out in the hundreds of thousands of towns and villages. Places without local health administrations. Places that lack good healthcare in the best of times.
April will be worse as we’re about to enter the “fog of war” stage of this pandemic, where the front lines disappear, where the enemy is everywhere, and where in June, July, or August when the virus has infected most everyone in the “developing world” (a.k.a. half the world), we’ll try and count the dead to see just how bad April really was.
As I posted earlier this week, my fear is that many of those deaths will be from hunger, not virus. That would be an even bigger tragedy.