What's happening to America?
Superpower US, which time and again boasts about how it's protecting the world, has failed to protect itself and its economy from coronavirus!
What's happening to the United States of America (USA), the world's most powerful country? This question is on everyone's mind these days. The key talent pool from every corner of the world regularly flows into the US for better opportunities.
So, any development in the US, bad or good, sends its vibes and vibrations across the globe. Then we can understand what happens when the US is hit by a waterless tsunami. Yeah, you heard it right. And, it's true.
The US, the world's largest economy, has been hit by a new category of tsunami called Covid-19 pandemic triggered by a novel coronavirus from China. Of course, it did not come through any ocean or sea.
Though the deadly contagion has caused health crisis across the world, it simply turned into a tsunami soon after it arrived in the US.
The numbers tell the real story and the pain that the US is going through. As on Saturday, the Covid-19 count across the world crossed 2.2 million. Of them, the US accounted for over 710,000 cases. That means the superpower is home to 32 per cent of the world's total corona cases.
The pain doesn't end there though. So far, Covid-19 claimed over 154,000 lives in more than 200 countries. Of them, over 37,000 people, or 41.5 per cent, died in the US, world's third most populated country after China and India. On Friday alone, 4,591 people died in that country. That's as pathetic as it gets.
The pathogen first surfaced in the US on January 21 when a man returned from China's Wuhan city, where the virus originated, tested positive in Washington area. However, the superpower had plenty of time at hand to act thereafter, but somehow did not.
Maverick US President Donald Trump could not see what was in store for his country, as he was said to be more keen on protecting the economy and so was averse to a lockdown or curbs on the economic activities.
He did not take the threat seriously even though several medical experts warned him about lethal consequences of the pandemic and the associated human cost. The US started paying a heavy price for that as Covid-19 began rearing its ugly head from March 11 when total cases crossed 1,000 mark.
A week later on March 17, the daily case count crossed 1,000. And the country of 328 million people could not recover since then. The US is now on deathbed and its famed healthcare system is crippled, to say the least.
There is an interesting element here though. None of the first 20 cases in the US was from New York City and State, the epicentre of corona outbreak in that country. As per the latest count, New York has over 233,000 cases, or 33 per cent of total cases in the US.
It also reported lion share of deaths at over 17,000. New York City, the commercial capital of the US, is popularly known as the Big Apple. With Covid-19 deaths and infections everywhere, it has turned into a tasty apple for coronavarius.
That's sad indeed. The sadder part is that the black people, who make up 14 per cent of the US population, account for 40 per cent of Covid-19 deaths. That means the poor have become sitting ducks.
Frankly speaking, it took just 30 days for the miniscule coronavirus to turn the US from the Land of Dreams into the Land of Death. However, the US and its leadership should take blame for the sorry state of affairs.
With cases rising by leaps and bounds, the country had no option, but to shut its economic activities and keep people indoors to contain the virus through social distancing.
But Trump seems to be in a hurry to open up the country, put the economy back on track and see that minimum damage is done to the economic fabric of his wealthy nation. He seems to be willing to take a risk. Of course, he has a reason. The US goes to polls in November this year.
And the success of his re-election bid hinges on how the US economy will be faring by the time the election takes place. Trump has all along been telling everyone how he has put the US economy back on higher growth track during his tenure. He is right.
The economy of the world's sole superpower was in slow lane when he assumed charge as the 45th President of the US on January 20, 2017. The US economy clocked 1.9 per cent upswing in 2016, the lowest in five years since 2011.
However, the GDP growth increased to 2.4 per cent in 2017, the first year of Trump's presidency, and further to 2.9 per cent in 2018, before slowing a bit to 2.3 per cent in 2019.
Then came the coronavirus crisis, which is set to take a huge toll the US economy this year and beyond. As per the IMF's latest forecast, the US economy is expected to shrink by a whopping 5.9 per cent in 2020.
If this comes true, the loss will be colossal even by the US standards. The US closed 2019 with a GDP of $21.41 trillion. If the economy contracts by 5.9 per cent as estimated by the IMF, the US will lose $1.26 trillion in GDP contraction during 2020.
This economic loss will be equal to 50 per cent of India's total GDP. That's a whole lot of money, isn't it? And, the US GDP will fall to $20.15 trillion this year, a lot lower than what the country clocked in 2018 ($20.58 trillion).
That way, the economic growth achieved in the last two years will simply evaporate into thin air. Further, the US is expected to slip in deep recession on the lines of Great Depression which crippled the North American country in 1930s. If that happens, there will be nothing for Trump to boast about during his upcoming election campaign.
But the fact of the matter is that with an impractical aim to save the economy, Trump has already pushed his country into a deeper health crisis. The US will land in much bigger problem if Covid-19 continues its rampage with more vengeance after economic activities are allowed to resume.
The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the image of the US as a superpower and safe country. It will take several decades for the country to erase the blot. A prolonged healthcare crisis will further dent the image.
Moreover, if Trump pushes the US into bigger healthcare crisis, he can neither save the economy nor his re-election bid. History will also not forgive him as collapse of the US economy means bigger pain for the world economy.
As he already ruled the US for four years, Trump should put the future of the US first, not his political future. Further, saving lives should be first priority for the US and its President, nothing else.
Anyway, the fight against the novel corona has just begun and is set to continue for long as the road to Covid-19 vaccine is nowhere in sight. In 1918, the world faced an existential crisis when Spanish flu ravaged the world for over two years and claimed over 17 million lives.
Unofficial count goes up to 50 million. Exactly after a century, the world is facing a far bigger threat in the form of Covid-19. As early as on March 18 this year, the Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU) in its report estimated that Covid-19 will infect nearly 50 per cent of the world population.
Of the infected, 20 per cent cases will be severe and 1-3 per cent will result in death. As per these assumptions, the death toll from Covid-19 may range from 8 million to 23 million.
These projections appeared surreal when the report was released. But going by what is happening in the US and Europe, EIU numbers look like an understatement.
However, where there is will there is way. If the world population maintains social distancing without any laxity at the work places, on the streets and everywhere, the Covid-19 could be put at bay with bare minimum expenses and with a least damage to economies.
Fatalities will also be minimum. That's what the world should do and strictly implement social distancing norms for six months or one year. That way, economic engines could be restarted.
The strict implementation of social distancing is only way to save the people and economies until an effective vaccine is discovered.
Nevertheless, it is sad that the US which time and again boasts about how it's protecting the world has so far failed to protect itself and its economy from coronavirus! Can it do in future? If not, some other country will take the reins of the world. That's for sure!