Editor’s note: Today, we’re handing the reins over to Jeff Brown, a tech expert who has dedicated his career to sharing the biggest breakthroughs in science and technology with his readers. And for the past few months, he’s been hard at work monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and its global impact.
But Jeff thinks that many people aren’t getting the full story about the disease. So he decided to set the record straight on some of the most common myths circulating in the mainstream…
By Jeff Brown, editor, The Near Future Report
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) caught the world by surprise…
From the earliest case (November 2002 in Foshan, a city in the Guangdong province of China), the infection spread to 8,096 people in 29 countries. The likelihood of death for those infected was a frightening 9.5%.
But the risk of death was not consistent among the population that contracted the disease. Children younger than 12 experienced much milder symptoms. But at age 60 and above, the death rate exceeded 50%.
For the first two months of the outbreak, China’s local and national government would not share information concerning the outbreak.
But the world got lucky with SARS, because concerned citizens began sending text messages and spreading the word about a “deadly flu” on internet sites. And that forced health officials in Guangdong to finally respond in mid-February.
Remember, this was 2002–2003. The world’s first smartphone hadn’t been invented yet, and social media applications like Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. In other words, the news just didn’t spread that fast.
I was there at the time. I traveled to Hong Kong in March 2003, right in the middle of the outbreak. Hong Kong is just downstream from Guangdong, on the Pearl River which feeds into the South China Sea. It was severely affected by the outbreak.
I remember arriving at the airport and taking the Airport Express to Hong Kong station. The train was practically empty, as was the station. It didn’t dawn on me until I reached my hotel how serious it was. No one was in the café, and only a few people were lingering in the lobby.
The city was deserted. I knew then that I had made a stupid mistake coming to Hong Kong.
I stayed one night, never left the hotel, and fortunately did not get sick. The impact of SARS was most prevalently felt in Asia.
While many people have long forgotten about SARS, we’ve all now heard about COVID-19, the new coronavirus initially discovered in China. I’ve been carefully monitoring the development of COVID-19 since the start of the year.
Many of us are correctly following the reputable data and advice published by the CDC. But I’ve also been keeping tabs on some unhelpful rumors – or “myths” – that are circulating online.
Today, I’d like to set the record straight…
Myth #1: A mask will protect us from COVID-19.
Masks, like the one that I’m wearing in the picture below, provide very little protection from COVID-19. They’re better than nothing, but unless a mask provides an airtight seal around the mouth and nose (and we wear protective eyewear that also provides a seal), we are still exposed.
Hoarding or purchasing large numbers of these masks also creates major issues for those who need these masks the most – mainly caregivers in the health care community.
And while this might seem counterintuitive, the other category of people who should be wearing these masks includes those infected by COVID-19. The masks catch infected respiratory droplets, helping to keep them out of the air.
Myth #2: You can only get COVID-19 from physical contact with an infected person.
COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets which travel through the air. Generally, you must be within six feet of someone who is contagious to come in contact with these droplets. These droplets can infiltrate our bodies through our eyes, nose, mouth, or even an open wound.
Myth #3: Coronavirus is containable.
Since symptoms may not appear for up to 14 days, the reality is that community spread of COVID-19 has been going on for many weeks now. Because the WHO did not recognize the situation as a public health emergency until January 31, the world was actively, if unknowingly, spreading COVID-19.
Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch recently estimated that as much as 20% to 60% of the world could become infected with COVID-19. It’s “almost inevitable.”
Now, we must understand that does not mean that 20% to 60% of the world will have a severe illness. Many cases will likely be mild or even asymptomatic.
Myth #4: All stocks will perform poorly in the age of COVID-19.
Right now, we’re seeing an unprecedented level of fear-based selling. As of this writing, the S&P 500 is down 23% from its peak.
The common assumption is that all stocks will perform poorly as the world gets COVID-19 under control in the months ahead. But my analysis is showing something different.
Nokia just released data saying that most wireless networks around the world see 30–45% growth in traffic over a year. But peak usage has jumped 20–40% over just the past four weeks.
These are beyond crazy numbers. And it’s all because people are staying home. Video conferencing – for both work and socializing – has spiked 300%. Gaming has exploded 400%… probably because the kids are staying home from school.
To put this growth in context, network data traffic would more than double every 12 months if this persists. We are talking about the definition of exponential growth. And it will overwhelm networks all over the world.
What does this mean for investors?
Any company providing wireless services has seen a massive spike in demand. And any company producing the products that go into data centers, wireless networks, and 5G infrastructure is getting slammed with new orders as we speak.
For these companies, sales are going up, not down. Yet their stocks have pulled back. That’s a massive opportunity for savvy tech investors.
Several companies like airlines, hotel chains, and restaurants are indeed suffering right now. But for key technology companies, business is booming.
At times like these, it’s important to rely on data, not conjecture. By staying rational, the world will weather this pandemic. And we can look forward to a brighter future once the dust has settled.
Editor, The Near Future Report
P.S. There’s much more to be said on this topic. That’s why I put together an emergency briefing on ways to protect your health and your wealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I provide a list of the 10 stocks every investor should avoid during this crisis. And I even detail the one biotech company that could lead the race to provide a treatment for COVID-19.
I also reveal the top tech stocks every investor needs to own right now – even during this market volatility. While many companies are suffering, others are prospering.
I believe this information is absolutely critical right now. To access the briefing, simply go here.