Tens of thousands of people get sick. More than 2,900 die. Fear spreads faster than the virus. Factories are closed. Roads are blocked. Villages are sealed off. Cities are locked down. The outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is the most severe sociopolitical crisis Chinese leaders have grappled with since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. And the crisis is not confined to China. The spread of the virus across borders—and the panicky reaction to that spread—will have profound effects on the global economy, politics, security, and governance.
The virus’s novelty leaves many unknowns. We still don’t have a clear idea of its transmissibility and virulence. We do not have a clear idea of the incubation period, which could last up to 24 days. We also don’t know how infectious people are before their symptoms manifest and why some cases suddenly become severe. We also don’t understand why some