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A Global Pandemic - And Then?

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on March 13, 2020 13:50

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The Corona Pandemic is all over the news, with one article rehashing the previous one. Looking at historic data, it is possible to draw some conclusions which may just be wrong. But it is a beginning to thinking about the post-pandemic era, when the world might be different.

White water rafting has that moment when you know it was not a good idea but there is no turning back. When you have to surrender to the power of the river, add your own puny attempts at influencing events and wait for the outcome.

Rafters in Voss Municipality, Norway. By Rune Haugseng (CC by 2.0)
Rafters in Voss Municipality, Norway. By Rune Haugseng (CC by 2.0)

 

 
We are at that stage of the Corona pandemic now, where there is no turning back. It is still possible to contain outbreaks and to delay the spread while the search for treatment and vaccines proceed at a feverish pace.

Draconian controls may have worked. But these may also have lost the confidence of the people. History evidences that inadequate governmental communication usually exacerbates an epidemic. An obsession with acceptable, as opposed to factual, information delayed the recognition of the Coronavirus outbreak by critical weeks. Miscommunication about the Spanish flu in 1918 left medical services unprepared and ineffective. Political spins often caused massive, unnecessary deaths.

 

Family walking in Macau, China. By Macau Photo Agency (CC by 2.0)
Family walking in Macau, China. By Macau Photo Agency (CC by 2.0)

 

Prevention is impossible though containment will give scientists time to develop remedies and vaccines. What will not work in the long term is isolation. The global economy is interconnected - that intercontinental travel is its blood and oxygen. From past experience the economy will recover, perhaps in a different form, and new opportunities will arise.

Remote schooling will most probably be the biggest winner with brick and mortar institutions of higher learning becoming either museums or centers of remote learning. And with the virus seeming to target older, more experienced people, there will be a greater need for training and education. Telemedicine and the use of AI seems a logical development. A diminishing role for fossil fuels is likely. Alternative, and more efficient forms of energy seems to be in our future.

The economic crisis should cause us to re-evaluate the need for Ponzi-style economics that have to run ever faster just to remain standing. Massively over-leveraged companies and national economies will drag down others as they crash and burn. Of particular concern is the Middle East with massive youth unemployment and rigid, authoritarian rulers. Once oil-fueled sovereign funds fail to buy off the youth, chaos may result.

On a smaller scale we need to talk about a global community. When poor people cannot pay for testing they will go on to infect rich people who can. And we have seen that borders cannot stop diseases. Economies where medical services are available for all will be healthier and more efficient. Coordination of medical and economic measures seem a no-brainer. Better use of the environment, and less intrusion in forest habitats where unknown viruses linger should also be logical.

Sadly the Coronavirus improved air quality over China. Is it not possible to build an environmentally

sustainable economy? Photo NASA.gov

 
Historically, pandemics bring renewal and growth by sweeping away rigid, parasitic structures. What will be swept away? And who?

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on March 13, 2020 13:50

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Source: Daily Mail
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A bar has come under fire for a 'tasteless' poster advertising $6.50 Corona beers for $6.50 'while the pandemic lasts'.

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