Coronavirus has disrupted everything in its path as it grows into a worldwide outbreak, from daily life and health to the stock market and global economy.
Scientists, public health workers and governments are still struggling to get a handle on the virus — and to stem the tide of misinformation as the public seeks to protect itself.
We asked three Saint Joseph’s experts — James Carter, Ph.D., a professor of history, Sally Kuykendall, Ph.D., a professor of health services, and Michael McCann, Ph.D., a professor of biology — to share insights from their areas of expertise that can shed some light on the coronavirus’ trajectory so far — and some key questions going forward.
Here are four key points from those conversations:
The Economic Impact in China Will Be Significant — and That Has Worldwide Implications
After years of meteoritic growth, the Chinese economy had already started to slow before the coronavirus epidemic began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. China essentially shut down in an effort to contain coronavirus, creating further economic disruption that will be felt worldwide, says Carter, whose research specialties include modern China and the interaction between modern China and the West.
“Even if this passes pretty quickly, there will be a significant impact,” says Carter. “If it lingers, it could have a really devastating impact. Some question whether this is China’s Chernobyl, which was a moment that undermined public confidence in the Soviet Union and contributed to the collapse of the state a few years later.”
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has more authority and more power than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong — “he’s ramped up the surveillance state, ramped up censorship, ramped up social control — something like this, which is fundamentally uncontrollable, flies in the face of all the tools in the toolbox that the government has been using since Xi Jinping came to power,” Carter says.
China is the world’s second largest economy after the U.S. and the world’s largest trading partner, Carter says, which is why the economic implications of the virus were being felt in the U.S. stock market even as few domestic cases of the virus had been identified.
“The global economy is closely connected to the Chinese economy — it’s all the same economy at some level,” Carter says.