No doubt this is a terrible pandemic, but it seems that modern humans have yet to gain the level of wisdom necessary to see through to the catastrophic consequences of their way of life, organisations, and relationships.
With 90% efficacy proven of vaccines developed by Pfizer and others, the world is finally in the last stage of the coronavirus pandemic. Will the arrival of a vaccine be enough for society to go “back to normal”? The answer to that question depends on a wide range of variables, such as how effective the vaccine is and how many people get vaccinated.
Day to day, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way people live around the globe. Even when lockdown restrictions are lifted, many say that the world will never be the same. What might the world after the pandemic look like? How will the coronavirus change our daily lives, our countries, and our cities? Let’s try answer these questions.
Right now the world is going through a historic yet unpleasant time with restrictions on movements and contacts, following the corona lockdown. People all over the globe have pledged to fight the pandemic with social distancing and quarantined lives. Pandemics have always had an impact on human civilisation, where all sections from political to economic to the health apparatus have a role to play. This time is no different and there must be cooperation at micro and macro levels with intergovernmental and global support to collectively work out strategies to deal with the world polity once the lockdown is lifted.
Lenin once said, “There are decades where nothing happens, and weeks where decades occur.” There is no doubt that the time of the pandemic from the end of January to the present has witnessed a number of unparalleled realities that the world has not experienced since World War II. The pandemic will have different effects on the very pulse of the economy, sociology, and mental health, as well as on policy, patterns of political interaction as well as international relations. In The Pandemic Is a Portal, Indian author Arundhati Roy writes, “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”
World before and after pandemic
The biggest difference between the world before and after the pandemic will be related to the state of the world economy. While the world economy prospered before the epidemic outbreak, after it there will be an economic crisis in many countries caused mainly by the restrictive measures introduced by their governments. The crisis will also change the approach of people to life and its security. Due to reduced incomes, many people will realise the importance of financial reserves, and will therefore value their earnings more than before.
Moreover, many people had to spend these unusual times at home and had thus more free time than they were used to. Most of them learned new skills or dusted off old ones. We also spent more time with our families, and perhaps, as a result, we will be able to slow down the pace of today’s hectic world.
The problems we will face
It will certainly be the impending economic crisis and the higher unemployment related to it. Although I hope that people will be more interested in the state of the environment after the pandemic, I am afraid that this will not happen immediately. A big problem is and will be the waste generated by the use of disposable facemasks and gloves, but also food packaging, which had been reduced in recent years and has now had to be returned. In addition, large factories will want to make up for lost profits and some countries’ air improvements are likely to be short-lived. Climate change will therefore continue to be a big challenge. Everything will depend on development of the economic situation in the world. Job loss, insecurity and stress are closely linked to mental health. For this reason, I think that the number of people suffering from mental illnesses might increase, resulting in a shortage of doctors and psychotherapists. Society will have to cope with the deepening social inequality to which the crisis has contributed.
Every crisis is an opportunity
This is a good opportunity to reconsider some of our priorities. However, I think we should make use of the situation in other areas as well, such as in our approach to the environment. When people had to spend several weeks locked at home, they used every opportunity to go for a walk, most often in the woods. I firmly hope that most of them have realised how important it is to protect nature.
Secondly, during the first weeks of the state of emergency, there was a great shortage of disinfectants, facemasks and other medical supplies in our country. In my opinion, it has become clear how important it is not to depend only on imports, but to be self-sufficient, at least when it comes to essential equipment. It is important to support the production of more medical supplies and food in our country.
This “crisis” was and is a huge opportunity. I know many companies, which arose from this situation, and they are flourishing. Moreover, for many people including me, it was an opportunity to start learning new things and gain new skills in the fields for which I normally do not have much time.
Due to the pandemic, many people got the opportunity to think about the direction in which they want their lives are going, and what they want to pursue. More time at home gave them space to rethink their current way of life and relationships.
What else should we learn
We should definitely learn from how we underestimated the coronavirus at the beginning. I think it was mainly because none of the current generations had ever experienced such a pandemic. That is also why most of us were unpleasantly surprised by the speed with which the virus spread, resulting in the introduction of various governmental restrictions. The closure of universities was like a bolt from the blue for me. I think that in the coming years we will be much more cautious about information regarding newly discovered viruses and we should be grateful for everything that life has to offer and more attentive to little things. We should not pursue illusions but perceive the beauties and possibilities which we have in front of our eyes every day. There is no doubt that it is a terrible pandemic, but it seems that modern humans have yet to gain the level of wisdom necessary to see through to the catastrophic consequences of their way of life, organisations, and relationships.
—The writer is an MBBS student at Tehran University of Medical Sciences. [email protected]