The short answer is yes. I base my prediction on 19 years of travel to Asia and following their progression of SARS coronaviruses from 2002 to current day.
In 2001 I made my first trip to Asia, I was 25 years old and my mission was to work through complications of Monsters, Inc. plush toys which included the nose of Sulley and sound boxes. I first went to Hong Kong because my flight to Korea was diverted due to a worker strike. I then went to Korea for a week and then back to Hong Kong to finish my trip. I could write so much more about this single trip but that's for another post. For this post it's merely a point in time.
The 2nd time I went to Asia was in 2004 and as business has ramped up, I was required to go three times a year until the financial crisis of 2008 where we cut back on travel and I got pregnant with my first child so that kept me home until spring 2009.
After I started having children I went to Asia twice a year for client meetings, these trips could be anywhere from 2-3 weeks long with 10 day stretches in our China sample room working alongside the team on hundreds of plush developments over the years.
In these years of travel, I avoided 3 SARS coronaviruses and 1 Swine flu which is a type of influenza:
- 2002 - 2003 - SARS
- 2009 - Swine Flu (H1N1)
- 2012 - MERS
- 2019 - Covid-19 - I traveled to Asia in January and I would have traveled again in October but the protests in Hong Kong raged all year long and it kept away our buyers so we traveled more to California. I also would have possibly gone January 2020, but protests continued so we went back to CA to see buyers.
To my knowledge, only two of these diseases made it out of China and into the rest of the world, in 2009, H1N1 spread rapidly but it was not as deadly as the current Covid-19 so no lockdowns or world wide panic. I don't think it prepared the world for Covid-19 because it was ten years ago and the world reaction was concern but not panic.
This last one has been incredibly shocking in terms of world wide reaction, panic, misinformation, general misbehavior, and the devastation to hundreds of industries dependent on travel. I could go on but if you've lived through this you get the general idea. None of these prior diseases caused this much devastation to the entire world.
Let's look at the time line between each disease - just looking at coronaviruses since they seem most feared:
- From SARS to MERS 10-12 years
- From MERS to Covid-19 - 8 years
There's no easy way to predict with any absolute certainty when the next virus will hit but I'd say it could be anywhere from 6 to 10 years. The only question my husband and I have is how can we better prepare for the next big one?
This is our plan (post Covid-19):
- Travel more to see friends and loved ones, truly own and cherish the moments we have together
- Gather supplies so we are ready, I guess that means we are finally going to become preppers of a sense.
- We want to build a home that has enough land to grow more crops with adequate storage, and places for all family members to find sanctuary and possibly isolation from others if needed. In 6 years our oldest will be 18, in 10 years she will be 22. We need a very big library!
- Go to all the places we can't visit during a pandemic - zoos, libraries, restaurants, amusement parks, special places like the Gettysburg miniature horse farm
This is not meant to be a pessimistic post, we are optimistic in our plans to make the best of time when we have the freedom to move about and embrace others, and then when it's time to hunker down again, to be ready and embrace that time as well.