Sunday, March 08, 2020

Useful Scientific Resources for the Coronavirus Outbreak

The coronavirus situation has roiled financial markets and created quite a bit of social concern.  I'm noticing quite a bit of misinformation and misguided decision making on the topic.  Below are sources that I have found helpful in following the science behind the outbreak and what that means going forward:

This Bedford Lab blog post tracks the history of the spread of the virus and notes what can be done to control it.  An important takeaway is that "social distancing" is essential to slowing and stopping the spread of the virus.  Lots of excellent links, including this one to the Nextstrain platform that is tracking the virus in real time.  Here is the Twitter link for Trevor Bedford.  Worth following.

*  Thanks to the Threadreader app, here's a compilation of recent tweets from Liz Specht, and here's her Twitter link.  Specht, from the Good Food Institute, lays out the implications of the math of viral transmission, especially in terms of strains on our healthcare system.  Note the difference between her analysis and that of Shang-You Tee below, based upon the dynamics of decay following exponential growth.

*  Here are a number of helpful perspectives from Scott Gottleib, MD, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, including needed prevention measures.  

A valuable perspective based upon the slowing of cases in China is offered by data scientist Shang-You Tee, who tracks exponential increases in cases followed by rapid decay.  He emphasizes the importance of strong public health measures to contain viral spread, particularly the measures recently utilized in Singapore and Taiwan.  Worth reading.

There are lots of valuable takeaways from these sources.  The longer we delay personal and public prevention measures, the greater the spread will ultimately become.  As long as the spread becomes greater and wider, we can expect greater impacts on daily life and continued volatility in financial markets.  As in Taiwan, strong public health practices may limit the impact of the virus.  

I am watching overseas markets closely, particularly in Asia, where we've seen some stabilization in markets in China and Taiwan and continued weakness in Italy and Singapore.  Per my recent post, this crisis is likely to create great opportunity for equities going forward, given the collapse in bond yields.  Sound--and well informed--risk management, however, will be needed to profit from such a scenario.  Prevention is key: If we wait to act until things are bad, they are almost certain to get meaningfully worse.

Further Reading: