Pandemics of the past and COVID-19 – The historical epidemics give us a glimpse of how coronavirus will impact the global economy. Covid has made us realize how an epidemic alters human society and creates a profound economic impact. Some of the direct economic effects include poor productivity of the survivors and reduced workforce due to damaging health conditions.
All pandemics are not the same! The effect of each epidemic differs based on the illness and the condition of the society it impacts. Though the modern economy is much better than the previous centuries, the previous pandemics offer an understanding of what to expect in the long run.
Through this post, let’s take a look at the pandemics that the human race have experienced earlier. Specifically, we will investigate the 14th Century Plague and Spanish Flu and find how the economy recovered after each scenario and today’s tendency during Covid.
The 14th Century Plague:
The 14th Century Plague, also known as the Black Death, was responsible for an extreme death toll that impacted one-third of the world population. The outbreak started in Asia and slowly made its way to the west, and spread rapidly throughout Europe between 1347 and 1351.
Like Covid, the 14th Century Plague’s economic effect resulted in radical transformations that were both beneficial and disastrous for all business types.
What Are The Main Causes Of The 14th Century Plague?
Caused by a bacteria called Yersinia pestis, the plague was mainly transmitted through respiratory droplets. Rodents being the leading carriers of this disease, Black Death made its way across the planet. Some of the causes of the Plague are:
- Poor public health condition.
- Limited medical knowledge.
- Expansion of global trade.
What Measures Did The Authorities Undertake To Curb The 14th Century Plague?
During the outbreak, the overwhelmed health officials perceived that it was essential to implement anti-contagion measures to curb the pandemic. Starting in 1348, city officials implemented public health measures that are the best practices followed even today. It includes:
- Practicing mandatory quarantine and social distancing – the first quarantine that ever took place.
- Built the First Plague Hospital – A temporary treatment facility that was state-funded.
How Did The Economy Recover After The 14th Century Plague?
Though the cause of the 14th-century plague is different from Covid, it offers various insights into the economic growth factors that led to the plague’s economic recovery. This includes:
- The declining population increased the immigration workers to take up low paying jobs.
- Balancing the psychological reactions to avoid suspicion and phobia. This saw an increased change in trading patterns during the epidemic.
The Spanish Flu:
The Spanish flu between 1918 and 1919 resulted in the fatality of around 50 million people. The avian-borne disease was initially seen in the United States, Europe, and certain Asian countries, which later spread worldwide. Similar to Covid, no effective vaccines or drugs were available to treat this deadly strain.
However, both Spanish flu and COVID-19 depict a similar economic pattern. Here, multinational corporations and huge organizations benefit from government support, whereas SMEs suffered huge losses.
What Are The Main Causes Of The Spanish Flu?
The flu pandemic had a vicious effect where patients died within hours. The common symptoms were cough and fever, which eventually turned into suffocating pneumonia. The leading causes of the Spanish flu include:
- World War I – Increased soldiers’ movement caused the spread of the killing strain across the world.
- Crowded conditions – Crowded military-industrial complexes were the main contributing factor for spreading the disease quickly.
What Measures Did The Government Take To Curb The Spanish Flu?
Similar to Covid, the authorities during Spanish Flu took preventive measures to curb the flu from spreading further. Some of the efforts to stem the flu include:
- Temporary closure of nonessential organizations.
- Shutting down of entertainment venues and vacation spots.
- Closure of churches and schools.
- Prohibiting huge gatherings.
Cities that implemented these measures aggressively experienced lower mortality rates and recovered quickly from the pandemic.
How Did The Economy Recover After The Spanish Flu?
The Spanish flu severely impacted the economy and took around 200 years to regain the population back to the pre-plague era. Some of the economic growth recovery measures implemented by the authorities are:
- Higher wages – Huge mortality rates resulted in a reduced amount of healthy workers. To attract workers – employers paid them higher wages.
- Free housing and tax exemptions – To attract the migrant population.
Caused by the novel coronavirus strain, WHO officially announced COVID as a pandemic by March 2020. This pandemic was initially reported in China and eventually found its way to numerous countries within 3 months. Without any effective vaccines, the spread is not over yet – increasing the death toll worldwide.
What Are The Main Causes Of COVID?
The common symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, respiratory disorders, resulting in pneumonia and death. Similar to the Spanish flu, Covid is spread via droplets from cough and sneezes.
- Non-disclosure of the information relating to that disease.
- By close physical contact via exposure to respiratory droplets.
- Through contaminated surfaces.
What Measures Did The Government Undertake To Curb COVID?
Due to the spread of COVID-19, state, and local governments across the world have imposed strict restrictions. This includes:
- Reduction of in-store services.
- Wearing masks.
- Using sanitizers and washing hands, and cleaning surfaces.
- Virtual and adaptive Schooling.
- Travel restrictions.
- Social distancing and quarantine measures.
- Closure of public places and prohibiting huge gatherings.
These preventive measures have slowed the spread of the pandemic to a large extent.
How Will The Economy Recover From COVID?
As a result of the strict and aggressive preventive measures, economic activities and employment rates have sharply declined. This forced many nations to ease restrictions even when the Covid fatalities kept rising.
The pandemic created a massive global economic impact since a significant part of the worldwide population was kept under lockdown. However, a decrease in the number of cases is a glimmer of hope in these trying times.
Here are some steps that will help pursue a resilient economic recovery:
- Investing in sustainable infrastructural facilities.
- Using fiscal mechanisms to recover.
- Regulating technology and promoting e-commerce sectors.
While the economic impact is yet to be estimated, it’s likely to keep rising in the coming days.
Though each pandemic is different, you will find striking similarities when it comes to the economic recovery pathway for each epidemic. Keen surveillance is essential to understand each pandemic’s effect and how you can slow the spread of the disease. Studies suggest a global economic recovery in the coming months where the world reacts better to the Covid crisis.