Excerpt

Coronavirus meets the Great Influenza Pandemic. Robert Barro, March 2020, Paper, "What is a plausible worst-case scenario for outcomes under COVID-19? This column draws lessons from the 1918-1920 Great Influenza Pandemic. Data for 43 countries imply flu-related deaths back then of 39 million, 2% of the world population, implying 150 million deaths when applied to current population. Controlling for effects from WWI, GDP and consumption in the typical country declined by 6% and 8%, respectively, while real returns on stocks and short-term government bills fell meaningfully. Large potential losses in lives and economic activity justify current policy actions to limit the damage, but there is a difficult tradeoff between mortality and lost output, and this tradeoff warrants discussion that is absent so far." Link