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The Effect of Epidemic Diseases on Economy and Industry

Author Kang Duyong & Min Sunghwan(강두용, 민성환) Date 2020.06.30 Series
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As COVID-19 has spread all over the world, it is having a serious impact on the global economy. Since there are yet great uncertainties regarding the ultimate duration and scope of its proliferation, it is difficult to forecast the magnitude of its impact. In this regard, investigating previous cases can provide useful information. In this paper, we investigate the effects of major epidemic diseases since 2000 on the economies and industries of some of the hardest-hit countries, including Korea.
Major epidemic diseases since 2000 include SARS (2002-2003), swine flu (2009), and MERS (2015). Among these, swine flu spread the furthest and persisted the longest. Swine flu is most similar to COVID-19 as both caused pandemics - unlike SARS or MERS.
However, the antiviral medication Oseltamivir was successfully used to treat the symptoms of the swine flu, which greatly helped to circumscribe both its mortality rate and its economic effects, especially as compared to COVID-19.
In addition, since the outbreak of swine flu coincided with the rapid recovery of world economy from the Great Recession, it is more difficult to observe its economic effect than the other epidemic diseases. SARS by contrast, though not pandemic, was much more fatal and occurred intensively in a few East Asian countries, with serious economic impacts.
Meanwhile, though MERS was spread to only a few countries and persisted for the shortest period among the three epidemics, Korea was one of hardest-hit countries, and the disease significantly affected the Korean economy.