COVID-19: The Pressure of Inevitability

This isn’t the first. This isn’t the last. It may be the worst; that remains to be seen. You would hope that modern medicine will out, but that takes time.


Around 500 BC, the Plague of Justinian killed 25-100 million people (about 50% of the population of Europe).

In the 14th Century, the Black Death killed 75-200 million people in Europe (about 60% of the population).

Between 1918 and 1920, Spanish Flu killed 17-100 million people worldwide.

Between 1877 and 1977, Smallpox killed 500 million people worldwide. And that wasn’t the first episode of Smallpox.

From 1960 to the present, HIV/AIDS has killed more than 32 million people worldwide.

Between 2009 and 2010, H1N1 killed nearly half a million people.

We are bloody lucky though. With a death rate of 0.3%-13% (depending on location and the demographic of the host), this is recoverable. But even at the lowest rate of 0.3%, that’s 240 Millie people worldwide. That’s the problem with big numbers.

The Power of Networks

Metcalfe’s Law is a concept used in computer networks and telecommunications to represent the value of a network. Metcalfe’s Law states that a network’s impact is the square of the number of nodes in the network. For example, if a network has 10 nodes, its inherent value is 100 (10 * 10).

This is the other problem with big numbers, things get very scary very quickly. You only have to look at the logarithmic graphs of the spread of the pandemic to get an appreciation of it. Log graphs make big numbers look like small numbers.

You can see the power of networks in this transmission of the disease. The more we were connected, the more we were able to travel, the larger the groups we congregated in; the more the virus would spread. Imagine how hard it was for the diseases to spread in the past (and thankfully for some like the Plague, we had antibiotics in recent years). But when something is being spread by rats, there have to be rats. This is spread by us.

We heard about other epidemics; Ebola, Zika, Nipah, SARS, Dengue fever – but most of them were in other places. People think we are being punished for whatever; for our arrogance? But this was inevitable. Viruses and bacteria have been preying on the world forever. They’ve killed millions before.

It’s ignorant exceptionalism to treat this as anything other than it is; inevitable

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