From the lobster industry, to novelty shirt stores, who is profiting from the coronavirus?


The coronavirus is predicted to have a devastating impact on the world economy — though not all sectors are operating at a loss.

Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers of the outbreak.

✔ Drug developers

Moderna, a biotech company which recently received a grant to develop a coronavirus vaccine, has seen a 30% leap in share values. Pharmaceutical stocks have also seen a spike as investors flock to benefit from the health crisis.

✘ Meat industry 

China has banned the trade and consumption of wild animals after scientists discovered that some of the earliest infections were found in people who had exposure to wildlife markets (though the link has yet to be definitively proven).

China recently lifted a ban on US poultry products, while cracking down on illegal meat imports. The latter move has had repercussions for India, which is one of the biggest exporters of buffalo meat.

 ✘ Australian universities

Australian universities face a $1.2 billion hit in fees from international students affected by the travel ban, exposing their reliance on Chinese students. Chinese nationals make up 10% of all students at Australian universities.

✔ Online learning

The coronavirus may be the “black swan” for online learning. Monash University’s Carlo Perrotta has suggested the virus will be the tipping point to push educational technology into the mainstream.

Universities have already embraced the online learning trend, offering students stranded in China streamed lectures and courses available through online learning platforms.

 ✘ Lobster industry 

China is Australia’s most lucrative live lobster market but now, thanks to a ban on all wild animal trade in China, the fishers are stuck at home. Disruption to the $660 million Chinese lobster market may have an impact for years to come, as uncaught lobsters wander away to other areas of the ocean.

✔ Face mask makers

As word of the virus spread, concerned citizens flocked to pharmacies to buy face masks for protection from the airborne contagion. Popular companies have seen hundreds of millions added in market value, while manufacturer Livingstone International Healthcare has been referred to the ACCC after marking up face masks in Australia by 1500%.

✘ Travel industry

Airlines are expected to lose tens of billions internationally as the coronavirus takes its toll, with countries closest to China affected the most. The virus hit during Lunar New Year, one of the busiest times for the travel sector. Italy has cut short its annual Carnevale celebration, while spooked travellers are staying away from neighbouring countries.

✔ Domestic travel industry 

The domestic travel industry, however, may see an uptick in tourists as Australians cancel their plans to go abroad and travel locally instead. Cruise liners may also see an increase for Australian tours — though, given the recent quarantines, we’re not sure how soon people will be rushing to the ships.

✔ Politicians

Scott Morrison has listed the coronavirus as another reason the government won’t deliver its surplus while Donald Trump has, in usual Trump-style, taken to Twitter to slam the Democrats for criticising him for closing the borders.

“CDC and my administration are doing a GREAT job of handling coronavirus, including the very early closing of our borders to certain areas of the world. It was opposed by the Dems, ‘too soon’, but turned out to be the correct decision … If the virus disappeared tomorrow, they would say we did a really poor, and even incompetent, job,” he wrote.

✔ 14-day travel tours

Chinese travel agents have started marketing 14-day travel tours, enabling passengers to get around the quarantine ban by travelling to third-party destinations.

It’s being promoted as a way to make it into Australia in time for the university semester, with stop-offs in Thailand and Malaysia (though given the virus recently reached Malaysia, this may no longer be an option).

✔ Novelty shirt stores

TeePublic has started spruiking coronavirus-themed shirts, with prints including “I survived coronavirus 2020” and “I am not a virus”, showing nothing can get in the way of capitalism.

This article was first published by Crikey.

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