Clem Sunter, 2 March 2020
In a book published in 2015 entitled Flagwatching, I wrote about how important it was to identify the flags changing the world as we know it. One of the flags was the increasing likelihood of a global pandemic due to higher rates of international travel and the growing concentration of people in megacities. Likewise, the transmission of viruses across different species was a major concern as was the appearance of multi-drug resistant varieties of bacteria.
I ended up by quoting Louis Pasteur, the remarkable 19th century French microbiologist, who in a moment of pessimism said: “It is the microbes that will have the last word.”
The coronavirus, alternatively called COVID-19, is now spreading so quickly around the world that, despite the containment measures taken by China where the virus originated, it now exists on every continent other than Antarctica. How significant a threat it poses to humankind in general has to be explored in scenarios.