What if the virus had made its appearance in 1990

Sunday, October 4th, 2020

Arnold Kling asks, What if the virus had made its appearance in 1990?

  • I don’t think people would have self-quarantined. We didn’t have the infrastructure for low-cost direct-to-home delivery. We didn’t have the technology to allow people to work from home.
  • I don’t think we would have had lockdowns. We didn’t have a generation of people raised to believe that it was unsafe for children to play without adult supervision. Shelter-in-place orders from the government would have been too unpopular for elected leaders to contemplate.
  • We would not have been promised a vaccine. No one could have announced “We already sequenced the virus genome!” as if that meant a vaccine was coming any day now.
  • We would not have had all of the treatment options available today.
  • Our population would have had a lower proportion of high-risk individuals — fewer elderly, obese, and diabetic individuals.
  • We would not have had social media to fill our heads with statistics and model forecasts and expert pronouncements to keep the virus foremost in our minds.


  1. Kirk says:

    We also would not have had free and easy communication between Communist China and the West… The disease would have stayed inside China and likely never have made it out into the world population.

  2. Freddo says:

    Add that 1990 was not a presidential election year.

  3. James James says:

    And then what?

  4. McChuck says:

    We had a virus, arguably a worse one, 1997-2000. And life went on for most. We didn’t go insane from fear. We didn’t shut down society. We didn’t destroy the economy. We didn’t undermine the entire election process.

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