Medical authorities, scenario planners and science fiction writers have long predicted the likelihood of a global pandemic, driven by higher rates of international travel and the growing concentration of people in megacities.
Countries started hearing alerts from China about the COVID-19 pandemic only weeks before it spread globally. When it first appeared, many countries were slow to research the threat or develop a policy response. In the short-term the probability of a major virus attack was discounted or denied.
And we were warned. There have been several precedents of virus attacks in the past 20 or 30 years. AIDS, SARS and Ebola provided examples of transmission of viruses and the appearance of multi-drug resistant varieties of bacteria. Medical science was able to neutralise or deal with them.
And so, with COVID. Now in April 2021 there are over 1100 COVID vaccines in various stages of development. Nations speak of achieving herd immunity.
Yet to date three million people have died from COVID-19. India is currently in crisis with over 200,000 deaths. The global recession is likely to continue as the virus mutates. Those nations hoping for herd immunity are proceeding on the basis that their economies will recover from the coronavirus outbreak.
How the corona epidemic is changing our world
- Self Sufficiency: Every country has tried to become more self-sufficient, reducing reliance on others as suppliers and customers. Many rich countries are following a “My country first” policy which threatens the stability of coalitions including the European Union. Borders are being more strictly policed. Poor countries are trying to ally themselves with one or more strong countries. Countries are also investing in protecting their environment and stocks of natural resources.
- Social welfare systems and monetary grants to reduce poverty have emerged. Direct taxes and wealth taxes are increasing. Pressure for universal income grants has also increased, with the financial burden falling on the wealthy.
- Increased investment in health care: Responding to public demand, government and the private sector are continually improving their health care systems, in anticipation of another pandemic at any time.
- Insurance: The Force Majeure rules in the insurance industry have been reviewed. Insurance companies are finding new ways to cover themselves for catastrophes.
- Technology: The 4th industrial revolution is accelerating and technology continues to impact all facets of life.
- Online education: School, college and professional development education is moving online. New supporting technology is emerging. More people are teaching and learning online.
- Changing beliefs: Increasing awareness of personal vulnerability is driving more cautious and inward-looking lifestyles and challenging belief systems. Families and communities are binding together to share and conserve in times of scarcity. Nations and corporations are paying more attention to risk management, environmental scanning and scenario planning models.
- Increased focus on personal health, hygiene and fitness: Hand washing, social distancing, and ongoing immunity practices are part of daily life. Ritual greetings of handshaking, cheek kissing and friendly embraces has decreased.
- Remote working: Is widely accepted and adopted by employers and employees, in most professions and every geographic area. A significant reduction in office space and increased use of home offices has created opportunities for developers.
- New KPI’S are being used to measure remote performance.
- Isolation: Self-isolation is now normal and adopted by individuals as the need arises.
- Remote living: Online shopping is normal. Cash transactions have been replaced by cards, chips and digital scans as payment methods. Personal transport needs have reduced and taxi services are widely used. Artificial Intelligence (SIRI) is used in household management.
- Social networking: There has been an increase in social networking, embracing new technologies to provide more social experiences in the home. People create online personalities.
- The home entertainment and home leisure industries have exploded. Video streaming services are adding new experiences like world travel and exploring space, using new virtual reality digital technologies. Venues providing live entertainment, sports and conferences have gone digital to survive. Athletes and musicians have adapted to playing to empty venues.