Will the Coronavirus Forge a Brave New World?

Lockdowns and social distancing are unlikely to survive for long.

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Of all the major geopolitical players on the planet, Mother Nature may be the toughest adversary. Nature has neither imperatives nor constraints to guide its behavior. Rather, it operates off general patterns that occur under various conditions. While the patterns provide broad strokes of expected behavior, it strikes mostly randomly. Even predictable phenomena, such as the Atlantic hurricane season, tell us nothing about the magnitude and target of, or potential for, economic damage. A catastrophic Category 5 hurricane that misses major population centers is quickly forgotten; a milder Category 3 hurricane that decimates New Orleans has long-lasting consequences. Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by a novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, was a predictable phenomenon. Modern disease outbreaks allow scientists to detect patterns, even if they cannot precisely predict what, when, where and how an outbreak might occur. For decades, microbiologists and epidemiologists have warned about an influenza pandemic. These occur with some regularity; the previous four were in 1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009. But while public health officials were fixated on the flu, a deadly new virus was percolating in China. By the time the biomedical community fully grasped the severity of the disease, it was too late. It had […]

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Alex Berezow
Alex Berezow joins Geopolitical Futures to analyze the impact of science, technology, and public health on geopolitics. Dr. Berezow is a prolific science writer who has written over 1,000 articles, many of which appeared in major news outlets. He is also a monthly columnist for the Puget Sound Business Journal and a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors. Currently, Dr. Berezow is also Vice President of Scientific Communications at the American Council on Science and Health, a consumer advocacy non-profit whose mission is to debunk “junk science,” promote evidence-based policy, and separate exaggerated health scares from legitimate health threats. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Council on Strategic Risks. Previously, he was founding editor of RealClearScience (of the RealClearPolitics family of websites), and he served as assistant editor of RealClearWorld, where he specialized in European affairs. Dr. Berezow holds a PhD in microbiology from the University of Washington.