Bottling The Genie of Covid-19: The Last Chance — Rais Hussin

By CodeBlue | 16 March 2020

Malaysia must work with the international community to produce a vaccine.

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SARS in 2003 labored on for eight months before it was contained. If what has recently been leaked from the medical communities in China is true, SARS Cov II, which leads to the pnemonia-like sickness of Covid 19 ā€”- generally known in the media as Coronavirus ā€”- has been around since November 2019, the world is now in the fifth month of the first wave of the much dreaded disease.

But SARS has become extinct. SARS Cov II is its cousin. Given its infectious nature around the world, there is no correlation between when SARS 2003 had ended in 8 months, while SARS Cov II 2019 can end by June 2020 too. The twain does not meet.

If anything, SARS Cov II, according to the likes of Professor Nouriel Roubini, writing in the Project Syndicate, has no causality to any “fiscal stimulus” or reduction of “interest rate”.

As things stand, some US$123 billion has been spent around the world since February 2020 to refloat the global economy. Now if the economic corrosion could have been stopped by the above, the global economic activities would have seen an uptick already.

No discernible progres has been witnessed. Instead, the US$5 billion stimulus package by Malaysia on February 27, may be a case of good money going after bad money.

Virus, especially of a pandemic kind, affects the whole world. Whether the supply side of China is affected, thus reducing the demand of the United States across the Pacific, such disruptions are signs of twin collapse inward.

China cannot operate at its optimum, neither can US generate the sufficient consumption power to buy from the Chinese in future. This is what what Mohammad El Errian, a notable economist, who was the former President of Harvard Endowment, called a supply chain shock leading to a demand side collapse.

At 2.5 per cent OPR, the monetary policy of Bank Negara has no way to go but down; without which no small and medium enterprises would develop the necessary appetites to venture into any commercially viable businesses.

Malaysia has one way out of the conundrum of Covid-19: the Minister of Health must work with the international community to produce a vaccine.

While this would take 1 year to 1.5 year, there are entities like Moderna, Glaxo, Fujifilm Toyama and various research centers in key universities, such as the Abdul Lateef Center of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College, London, that have begun to race ahead.

The US, for example, is known to want to poach 5,000 scientists from Germany to get its hand on a vaccine too. Germany, which has almost all 16 provinces hit by Sars Cov II, except Western Bavaria, has declared a pandemic. Australia has followed suit by invoking the word too.

What Malaysia must do is a long laundry list of what several countries have done to keep SARS Cov II or Covid-19 at bay.

Beyond contact tracing of each patient, Malaysia has to erect drive-through services to allow the maximum of trip tests over a period of three weeks.

With four Senior Ministers, Prime Minister Muhyiddin has no choice but to ensure that all four can work together to produce a lucid blue print.

Whether this be due to a lockdown of the whole Malaysia over the next 30 days, all political and religious activities must be conducted only online.

Contrary to what former Minister of Economic Affairs Azmin Ali may say, one must remember that South Korea jumped from 17 cases three weeks ago in February 2020 to more than 8,000 cases, with episodic outbreaks in Seoul.

In Singapore, people who sought, and received self-quarantine, as approved by the government stands to receive SGD 100 per day. No wonder Singaporean are eager to get themselves tested.

In England, the governnent of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is about to ask those about the age of 70 to quarantine themselves in their residence, as the cohort of this age group is most susceptible to Covid-19.

In sum, granted that Covid-19 cases have reached 428, Malaysia should be doing what Austria did. It is now illegal to have a gathering of five people in the same spot.

When the government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin is willing to undertake all the measures above, will Malaysia begin to see the light of day.

In order to win the confidence of the people that the whole Cabinet is healthy, all members of Cabinet must undergo a public test of SARS Cov II; as what President Jokowi and the rest of the Cabinet have done and will continue to do, after their Minister of Transport was proven positive.

Having said that Malaysia must be ready for any eventualities.

As Harvard trained and Scholar, Epimiedelogists and Health Economists, Dr Eric Ding clearly concluded that lockdown starting to work given the exponential line (Y-axis is log) is now bending towards sub-exponential once lockdown goes into place.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.
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