COVID-19 has thrown the world into an unprecedented crisis. Its public health
and socioeconomic consequences will be painfully palpable for years. And so far,
we have only experienced the tip of the iceberg. Whilst many nations of the Global
South are still suffering from the first wave of infection, East Asia, Europe and
North America are wisely bracing for a second wave due this fall, if not earlier. It
would be foolish to count on the development of a vaccine before that, let alone in
the quantities that would be required to lessen a second wave’s impact. But even if a
vaccine were to be developed in the next year, the social and economic devastations
that the pandemic has already wrought across the world will have profound and
long-lasting effects.
The rate of infection may be decreasing in most of Germany and Europe. The
socioeconomic crisis, however, has only just begun. It will provoke a deep shift
in the way the world is run. The world of tomorrow will no longer be the world
that we knew before COVID-19. Many of our habits and approaches to solving
problems will need to be rethought. The health care systems and supply chains that
have focused on efficiency and cost-reduction so far will have to begin to prize
flexibility and resilience. There is much to suggest that pandemics like the one
caused by COVID-19 will reoccur in the future for many reasons, for example,
because the habitats are shrinking of many of the wild animals that harbor zoonotic
pathogens. Scientific projections suggest that by the end of this decade, the
challenges that climate change will be confronting us with will dwarf those of the
current COVID-19 crisis.