During the run up from the lows of the massive crash in early March due to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., I’ve been advising readers to be careful about overestimating the chances of a quick market recovery.
And while I still think that we may yet see moves to the downside as more information comes out about the full economic impact of COVID-19, it’s hard to deny what I’m actually seeing play out in the market right now.
Earlier this week, we covered some of the most common misconceptions and myths surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
If you missed it, click here.
Now that Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida have announced that they are loosening quarantine restrictions (and another 13 states unveiled plans to do so), another set of health issues is becoming increasingly important.
Let’s look simply at why this virus has wreaked such havoc – and why its ongoing impact is still so uncertain:
- It’s highly contagious. The virus seems to be more robust than many similar viruses – it lives for hours on droplets in the air and for days on most surfaces. Asymptomatic people carry and transmit it. And since it is a “novel” coronavirus, meaning this is the first time it has circulated among humans, we basically have no pre-existing defenses.
- The virus is dreadfully and inexplicably selective. This means that similar people can contract the virus and one will have no symptoms, another will have mild symptoms, and yet another will have severe symptoms up to and including death. We know that there are risk factors for severity, like age, obesity, and pre-existing conditions. But even within those subgroups, the virus acts very differently from patient to patient.
- Help from a vaccine that would immunize us is still a long way off.
- Right now, we have no proven therapeutic treatment for patients. This one is huge. If you contract this virus, medical professionals can treat symptoms, but do not yet have a proven way to treat the underlying virus. And that point is the central theme of this article.
There are a number of potential treatments for COVID-19 currently in trials. Like the rest of us, scientists are hopeful that they’ll work.
But there are real risks with prescribing untested medications to sick people. It can hurt them, and it can also make it more difficult for others who do need those medications to get access to them as supply runs low.
So let’s look a bit closer at what the latest data says for the top two treatment contenders…