COVID-19 and Risk vs Reward

  • Reading time:7 mins read

Risk cannot be eliminated; it just gets transferred and spread. And developments that make the world look less risky usually are illusory, and thus in presenting a rosy picture they tend to make the world more risky.
Howard Marks

This is a look at risk versus reward scenario with regards to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) that’s been dominating the news recently.
Why I think it should be taken more seriously. And why it’s worth looking at both sides to potential actions.

Risk vs Reward

Risk versus reward is something you do all the time without realising it.
Going to drive down to the shops? Is the reward of not having to do up your seatbelt worth the risk of being in a car crash?
But try to evaluate it further. Think about it in terms of upside potential versus downside risk.
The upside? You feel freer in your car, save a little time getting in and out.
The downside? Serious injury and even death is a possibility (no matter how low). I think about these sorts of things often. And it’s one reason why I’ll never go without a seatbelt. It just isn’t worth the downside risk.


I’m no expert of pandemics, health issues and the like. But I think it’s fair to take this seriously. Especially when people much smarter than I am are.
I’d rather take it seriously and overplay it, and hope nothing happens. Rather than underplay it and joke around for it to bite us in the ass.
I hope people take it more seriously than what it has to be taken and it’s an overreaction because I think the flip side to this scenario won’t bode well.

What if you do or don’t take it seriously?
So you think it’s a hoax. Think it’s just the common flu. Even though the statistics argue against that, we’ll carry on.

What is the reward in not treating it seriously?
You go on with your daily life as normal as possible (ignoring the disruptions in supermarkets and the like). You might live in ignorant bliss for a while if things get serious. If things never get serious life simply goes on for a while and you continue on your merry way.

The risk of not treating it seriously?
You could become infected. And even transfer that infection to your loved ones who might be more at risk than you are. Imagine being responsible for a loved one’s death because you didn’t want to stop going to the gym for example for a little while.

Let’s assume at worst COVID-19 will cause a lockdown and severely impact us for 6 months. The average human lifespan is around 72 years (and we assume you will make it). Is it worth risking yourself, the public and loved ones in order to not impact 0.7% of your total lifespan? I don’t think so. But I’m sure many feel different and I’d love to know their opinions.

People will cry, whine and complain that their favourite sports and events have been cancelled. F1, NBA, NHL, and the Premier League have all been either postponed or cancelled.
But imagine if they didn’t and shit hits the fan. Mass infections and stress to the public health system. Boris Johnson has already stated how serious this is:

“I must level with you, level with the British public — more families, many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time”

Much better to be safe than sorry in this instance.

Plenty of flights, cruises and holidays have already been cancelled or suspended. Leaving many in the dark as to what happens next. So an interrupted trip is certainly within the realm of possibility.


Luckily myself I have no holidays planned (poor student life). But I know plenty of people do. Is a two week holiday to Bali worth running the risk being quarantined in a Bali hospital or stuck on an extended stay if you’re home country stops allowing flights in? It’s a pretty easy pass for me.
If you see the cheap flights and deals and are ok with this idea, more power to you and do as you please. But know the risks of doing so and don’t spit the dummy when things don’t go as planned.
It should go without saying but postponing your holiday doesn’t mean cancelling it. You can always rebook when things improve.
It’s not the end of the world that you postpone your lads trip to Kuta getting maggot by 10 am.


We’re all human and capable of our own thoughts and decisions. I think that’s what makes us so great. But I do worry when people don’t respect the potential risks of their actions.

I know my age group currently has around a 0.2% mortality rate in all cases. But imagine knowing you were infected and accidently spread it onto an older family member who dies way before their time.
Not exactly a scenario I feel comfortable in.

Me at home riding this out

Again I’m no expert. I’m 23 and new to all this. What do I know? Interested in others’ thoughts so please enlighten me or reach out.

Stay safe and best wishes.