ATHENS — This is a very difficult decision: what does a leader who has already shut down his country's economy once do? On the one hand, because of the first lockdown, the number of infections – and deaths – from the Coronavirus have been significantly reduced, but at the same time, as a natural consequence, the economy suffered a huge contraction. But what do you do when the virus returns?
This, unfortunately, is not a theoretical question.
It is a question facing the leaders of many countries today, from Spain to Greece to Cyprus.
In America, however, due to the fast-approaching elections of November 3, there is no thought of shutting down the economy again.
The loss from the first shutdown, as reflected in the national economic statistics, is enormous.
However, to give you a tangible picture, I note that one third of New York's 240,000 small businesses will never reopen. Specifically, 80,000 small businesses are gone.
I also note that no sector of the economy was hit more than that of restaurants and hotels. More than 80% of the city's restaurants did not pay their full rent in June.
So how can the leaders of the countries facing a second wave of Coronavirus decide to close their economies again?
How, on the other hand, do they risk having a large number of cases and deaths?
And finally, how will the schools open in a month or less?
The only salvation is the invention of a drug or even better, a vaccine that will fight the Coronavirus.
But while they are working on it, there is another problem.
There is a fear of hasty approval of a vaccine for reasons of national prestige and glory. Such is the competition between states.
In this context, it is worth paying attention to the statement of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from a couple days ago:
"I do hope," he said, “that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone."
But U.S. scientists are also worried that the vaccine will not be tested properly here either, due to pressure from the White House for ‘an October surprise’ – a positive development that will benefit the re-election of the President shortly before the November elections.
In the middle of all this are, of course, the people, who do not know what to believe and what not to believe.
But more and more we will have to deal with the situation ourselves. Let's take our chances into our own hands: wear your masks, keep your distance, wash your hands.