The world has survived deadly viruses and other types of pandemics before, but never in modern history has one caused an economic crash anywhere near the sort we are seeing today with the coronavirus crisis

During the 1918-19 Spanish flu outbreak, the most severe pandemic in recent history, the Dow Jones stock index declined around 10 per cent over more than a year. In this COVID-19 pandemic, it lost more than 30 per cent in a month.

Why is this happening? Why did we have to shut down the economy to deal with COVID-19 when we didn’t have to for SARS in 2003, or the H1N1 pandemic in 2009?

A new report from National Bank of Canada points to an answer: the virus appears to be more contagious than previous pandemics, making it easier for COVID-19 to spread.

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