Like most people I initially underestimated coronavirus. Unlike most people I have a blog where I can see what I actually thought. My first mention of coronavirus is on January 26th, 2020. This is what I said:
In Coronavirus, a ‘Battle’ That Could Humble China’s Strongman. One thing I will say is that public health professionals are focused on the tail risk. The risks are real. But please note that the worst-case scenario may not be the most likely scenario.
My worries about tail risk increased gradually until the middle of February (I was still relatively sanguine in early February, though that is when we began to stock up). On February 24th I sent out a very alarmed tweet, and several people privately have told me that that’s when they also became alarmed (I tweeted in reaction to a private query from “Default Friend”).
So where are we at? I’ve been wary about giving predictions for a while because though the worst, worst, case scenarios were avoided (people have taken precautious), there are some pretty grim numbers out there. All that being said, I’m going to be cautiously optimistic. I don’t think we’ll double the death toll over the rest of the pandemic for a variety of reasons. If I had to bet. Unfortunately, I might turn out to be wrong. Who knows?
Finally, there is an intense bittersweet aspect to the stories about China in January and February. I’m glad China didn’t collapse in the plague. But as 2021 starts China is in a good position to keep pushing ahead in the great power race. I have a piece to come out in City Journal soon that ruminates on this tentatively titled “Twilight Empire.”