Visualizing the World’s Deadliest Pandemics
Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.
And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.
Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.
Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.
Death Toll, by Percent of Population
In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people—more than 50% of the global population at that time.
Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.
|Pandemic||Death Toll by % of Population||Year of Population Estimate|
|Plague of Justinian||19.1%||500|
|The Third Plague||1.0%||1850|
|COVID-19||0.03%||2021 (as of March 15)|
The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.
Interestingly, the plague still exists today—however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.
History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning
While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.
In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory—the idea that small organisms caused disease.
What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?
»Like this? Check out our full-length article The History of Pandemics
Here’s What $1,000 Invested in Vaccine Stocks Would Be Worth Now
Ever wonder what you would have gotten if you invested $1,000 into the different vaccine stocks at the start of the pandemic?
Vaccine Stocks During a Pandemic
It’s often said that with every crisis comes great opportunity.
While such catastrophes do create upheaval and uncertainty in financial markets, they can also lead to new opportunities for investors, as asset classes react to different environments.
Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the performance of vaccine stocks have been varied—but with some notable winners that notched triple or quadruple digit returns.
Here’s how much a $1,000 investment would be worth as of March 31, 2021, if you had put money into each vaccine stock at the start of the pandemic:
|Stock||Value of Investment||% Growth||Market Cap ($B)|
|Johnson & Johnson||$1,252||25.2%||$419.8|
The Business of Vaccines
The returns on vaccine stocks have varied greatly. They are staggering in the case of Novavax and Moderna, but also seem quite underwhelming, when considering the likes of Sanofi, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.
One factor for the discrepancy in stock price performance is the revenue potential from vaccine sales relative to the rest of the existing business, as vaccine sales will have a much greater impact on the fundamentals of smaller companies.
For example, before the pandemic, Novavax had revenues of just $18.7 million—this meant that capturing any portion of global vaccine sales would create massive value for shareholders. On the flipside, vaccine sales are much less likely to impact the fundamentals of Sanofi’s business, since the company already is generating $40.5 billion in revenue.
To put it into perspective, analysts are expecting total sales from COVID-19 vaccines to be around $100 billion, with $40 billion in post-tax profits.
Vaccine Stocks vs the S&P 500
Even in a booming and valuable industry, it’s difficult to identify the long-term leaders. For example, in the mobile phone market, there was a time where the likes of Motorola, Nokia, and Blackberry appeared untouchable, but eventually lost out.
Similarly, with the limited information available at the start of the pandemic, few, if any, could have separated the winners and losers from this group with accuracy.
In the past year, the S&P 500 grew 44.9%—meaning that only three of the seven vaccine stocks have seen their share prices outperform the market.
Nobody said helping solve a global pandemic guarantees a pay off.
Bitcoin is the Fastest Asset to Reach a $1 Trillion Market Cap
Bitcoin is now part of a select very few assets that hold a market cap greater than $1 trillion. How long did it take to get there?
Bitcoin is the Fastest Asset to Reach $1 Trillion
The world is moving forward at an accelerated pace. Historically, it’s taken multiple decades for companies to be worth $1 trillion. For bitcoin, it took just 12 short years to reach such a milestone.
To help put things into perspective, here’s a look at how long it took America’s biggest tech companies to reach the $1 trillion market cap.
|Asset||Time To Reach $1 Trillion||Current Market Cap|
|Microsoft||44 years||$1.9 trillion|
|Apple||42 years||$2.2 trillion|
|Amazon||24 years||$1.7 trillion|
|21 years||$1.5 trillion|
|Bitcoin||12 years||$1.1 trillion|
Market caps as of April 12, 2021
Extreme Bullish Sentiment
Bitcoin has been subject to widespread commotion in markets.
At the start of 2021, the cryptocurrency had a more modest market cap of $500 billion, but has gained more than another $500 billion since. An onslaught of headlines has contributed to extremely bullish investor sentiment, including:
1. CEOs begin to show interest
Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey have made sizable investments in bitcoin through Tesla and Square, respectively. It’s estimated the gain from Tesla’s $1.5 billion bitcoin investment was greater than the profits from the entirety of their business in 2020.
2. New ETFs on the block
Multiple Bitcoin ETFs focused were recently approved by Canadian regulators and some have already launched on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). For many years, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) was the only readily accessible investment vehicle trading on equity markets that had exposure to BTC.
3. Financial institutions finally joining in?
Mastercard, Visa, and Bank of New York Mellon have made announcements to make it easier for customers to use cryptocurrencies.
On to the Next Trillion?
Future projections for the price of bitcoin are garnering more extreme and widening price targets.
The accelerated rate of change today has many of the Big Tech companies already inching closer to the next trillion in value. Will bitcoin follow suit?
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