End of Coronavirus: Three White Swans Arriving

April 5, 2020 6:00 PM PST The following short article was written by Affiliated Research Economics. In an environment that is polarized by either complacency towards the Coronavirus or preaching doomsday, anticipating the path of COVID-19 more accurately serves endless health, societal, and economic benefits. Aimlessly stating the virus will be gone in two weeks or in 18 months without analyzing the variables at play is fundamentally flawed and carries far reaching negative consequences. The overriding problem is that those offering forecasts either have self-interests, act emotionally, are inexperienced, or use an excessive “abundance of caution” that on the surface has no cost or consequence. The cost of the latter can be as high as the cost of the complacent. Our analysis starts at the basic premise that a virus cannot be eradicated. Viruses play an important role in nature and are here to stay.  Humans have shown an unfortunate ability to push more complex organisms to extinction, but viruses cannot be eradicated. If total elimination was possible, the need for vaccination against measles would not exist. Assuming the Coronavirus originated from an animal indicates that the virus plays a role in that animal’s biology.  The role might be a simple defense mechanism to keep other animals (like humans) away from it. Humans protection against viruses is limited the creation of antibodies after a person is infected and vaccines. The “End of Coronavirus” for humans will be defined by our ability to largely protect ourselves against by testing and vaccinating. We will continue with the three assumptions that if every person could be tested for the virus, tested for immunity against the coronavirus, and a vaccine was discovered the entire conversation, predictions and timeline would change instantly. These are what the title of article refers to as the Three White Swans:
  1. The ability to test very quickly and efficiently. The zenith of this will be self-test kits that require no interaction with medical workers.
  2. Testing for antibodies to detect past as well as present infection.
  3. One or more vaccines
Signs that the Three Swans are arriving were apparent past Monday as Abbot Labs announced the approval of a 5-minute test after Cepheid had released a 45-minute test earlier, Henry Schein mad available antibody rapid blood test, and Johnson & Johnson stated that it would begin clinical trials by September. The improvement in testing timeline and methods have been monumental as the timeline for result have shrunk from days to minutes. The next step will be home testing with quick results.  We anticipate those to be introduces in the next 30 days. Our vaccine production timeline is based on 1) the current environment 2) past experience with coronavirus, and 3) resource allocation. The timelines associated with the production of a vaccine are predicated on how long it typically takes to create a vaccine, test it, navigate the rigorous FDA process, gain approval, and mass production. Reviewing the various developments and approvals associated with the current Coronavirus shows an extremely expeditious process at evert stage. COVID-19 is not the first Coronavirus. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was an earlier Coronavirus which has been studied with an associated vaccine created, but stopped at human testing due to funding issues. Furthermore, there are more government and private resources being thrown at this point of this virus than any before. The question is not if a vaccine will be developed, but how many different ones will be developed. The development of multiple vaccines will allow quicker manufacturing and wider distribution as opposed to a single discovery. The caveat might be that the virus disappears quickly and the focus of discovering a vaccine goes the way of the SARS vaccine.