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The pre-existing conditions for the coronavirus pandemic

It is also more likely that the same people have the chronic conditions that the global disease burden exacerbates due to poverty, lack of universal health care, lack of access to higher quality food and a public health system that has been averted, by some calculations, to a value of 4.5 billion. dollars before COVID-19 was even a glimpse of a bat. “Your risk of dying if you have no underlying comorbidity is less than 0.1 percent,” Galea says. “People with lower socioeconomic position and color were at greater risk. In some respects, it’s that simple. ”

To rewrite a famous book, it’s a hell of a catch. The virus that causes COVID-1

9 would always have been deadly. But fewer people in poverty, fewer people with the conditions that turned out to be dangerous comorbidities, and a better health care system that focused on prevention rather than magic cures would have meant that the same deadly virus would have killed fewer people. “Why did COVID become the problem it became in the first place?” Asks Galea. “One that we have historically taught the public health systems needed to actually stay healthy. And two, we have underestimated the social and economic conditions that create a healthy world. ”

And the catch becomes more catchy. Earlier this week in an article in Journal of the American Medical Associationtwo economists at Harvard calculated that all deaths and illnesses from COVID-19 so far, and those likely to occur by mid-2021, combined with economic losses, mental pain and lost output, will add up to an astonishing number: $ 16 billion. That’s about 90 percent of the U.S. annual gross domestic product. “For a family of four, the estimated loss would be nearly $ 200,000,” the economists write. “Approx. half of this amount is the lost income from the COVID-19-induced recession; the rest are the economic effects of shorter and less healthy lives. ”

Even though to burden is shared unfairly. “By closing the economy, we are hurting the poor and colored more financially than by keeping it open,” says Alan Krupnick, an economist and senior fellow at Resources for the Future. “But you can not open the economy until people have a reasonable expectation that they will be safe when they go to a restaurant or bar or go to work. The disease must first be taken care of so that the economy can flourish. “It’s an income effect, and it creates a feedback loop. Attempts to deal with the effects of the pandemic after it has already swallowed up the economy make the economic effects worse on the most vulnerable … which means that in order to survive financially they have to expose themselves to more risk … which makes their comorbidities potentially more dangerous.

Some researchers have described COVID-19 as not a pandemic, but as a “syndrome” —a synergistic epidemic of related, overlapping issues, each making the other worse. It is bad. But on the bright (-ish) side, syndemes offer several measures of opportunity. Expensive drugs and quick vaccine tests are the kind of long shots you should only bet on if you (or your government) have not put the tedious public health work at the forefront. The Global Burden of Disease report quietly suggests that it is not too late. For COVID-19 specifically, it would be a message to wear masks, figure out how to implement comprehensive improvements in ventilation systems, and get people to help so they can stay home. It all worked in Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and even Wuhan. It can work here. But the GBD numbers show how to build a system that can handle all sorts of other problems, including infectious surprises like SARS-CoV-2. And the same system will create a happier and healthier world – one that is tough enough to shake off a SARS-CoV-3 as well.

This story originally appeared on wired.com.

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