By Mark Sanderson, Irene Lena Hudson and Mark Osborn, RMIT University
Wrapping your head around the scale of a global pandemic is not easy, and the volume of stats and data can be bewildering.
What, for instance, are we to make of the fact Australia recorded just 109 new cases in its daily count for April 6? Given this figure peaked at around 400 new cases per day, does this mean the rate of infection is now tapering off?
And what, apart from sadness, are we to make of more gruesome statistics, such as the 969 COVID-19 deaths reported in a single day in Italy on March 27?
Older people remain most at risk of dying as the new coronavirus continues its rampage around the globe, but they’re far from the only ones vulnerable. One of many mysteries: Men seem to be faring worse than women.
And as cases skyrocket in the U.S. and Europe, it’s becoming more clear that how healthy you were before the pandemic began plays a key role in how you fare regardless of how old you are.
The majority of people who get COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms. But “majority” doesn't mean “all," and that raises an important question: Who should worry most that they'll be among the seriously ill? While it will be months before scientists have enough data to say for sure who is most at risk and why, preliminary numbers from early cases around the world are starting to offer hints.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS CORRESPONDENT
When I set out to write this piece, my goal was to give readers some practical sense of the most likely economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis: a best-to-worst range of outcomes. That proved difficult for a few reasons.
First, we've never really dealt with anything like this, at least in the modern economic era. Second, what happens next depends enormously on the government's actions: how fast, how big, and how well-designed the policy response is.
Third, and this is the tough part to write: The speed at which the projections are getting much worse is simply head-spinning. Numbers that seemed stratospheric days ago are now the mid-to-low range. "Estimates are a little bit all over the place at the moment," Mark Paul, an assistant professor of economic and environmental studies at the New College of Florida, told The Week. "But I think it's clear that the economy is currently in free fall, and without sizable government intervention in the form of large scale fiscal stimulus, we risk having an economic recession or depression that dwarfs the 2008 financial crisis."