We Either Reinvent The Wheel or Adopt a New Strategy Altogether.
It may seem difficult to imagine now, but the coronavirus will eventually end. Currently the production of vaccine is in high gear, Russia, China, UK, are all in either final or in the process of making a vaccine. One day, when the numbers tell us it’s safe, we will leave our masks at home and return to the streets, revive the economy and re-establish our routines. All of them? I doubt.
A crisis and a return to roots
Then came COVID-19. In the face of crisis, social media usage has surged once more. A study of 25,000 consumers across 30 markets showed engagement increasing 61% over normal usage rates. Messaging across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp has increased 50% in countries hardest hit by the virus. Twitter is seeing 23% more daily users than a year ago. When it matters most, people (even #DeleteFacebook diehards) are turning to social media for updates and connection.
Businesses, as well, have found renewed value. We’ve seen a 15-20% increase in posts from our 18 million users, as companies reach out to customers and employees. Moreover, how they use social media is changing. Our data shows marketing and ads have given way to direct engagement — one-on-one interaction with other people.
For now, we know that the economic impact will not be the same for all countries, both developed and developing countries will have to reinvent their wheel or adopt a new strategy all together. I’m sure this is going to bring a new system. South Korea or Singapore that tested as many citizens as possible found that it did not make sense to confine people who had recovered from the disease, regardless of their symptoms, so they have been largely able to keep their economies up and running. However, this won’t help them much because when the new system comes in it will disrupt their normal. For instance the use of mobile phones to do cash transfers, Visa, etc. Will be our new normal.
Until such a vaccine is available, it will be essential to be able to identify those who can move freely and those who, like older people or those with underlying conditions, will need to maintain protective measures. Germany has announced it will issue certificates to people who have developed antibodies against the coronavirus and who will therefore be able to return immediately to work. Denmark has also come up with legislative for mandatory vaccination. https://www.thelocal.dk/20200313/denmark-passes-far-reaching-emergency-coronavirus-law. As I said in my earlier article, “People easily conceded to new sweeping regulations all in the name of peace and safety, something Benjamin Franklin warned us of…They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”. Regardless of whether the acquisition of these antibodies has cost people virtually nothing because they have been asymptomatic, or because they have been through major illnesses, there is no doubt that, in the post-pandemic scenario, those who have antibodies will be able to enjoy certain advantages and freedom of movement that others will not.
The question, increasingly, is no longer whether we will return to normal after the pandemic, but whether we really want to return to normal. Do we want to return to gridlocked cities, high levels of pollution, inefficient health systems or to schools and colleges that could be improved? Shouldn’t the lessons learned during lockdown and the fight against COVID-19 encourage change? According to Dr. Agevi, in his article, “Is COVID19 a blessing or a curse towards Climate Change Action?” He notes that, The shutdown in industries globally including in USA, China, Italy, Japan among others has led to drop in consumptions as a result of reduction in operations. For instance coal consumptions in power plants has been reduced to around 36 per cent globally. These industries have resulted to decline in the emissions of carbondioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O); greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contributes to increased effects of climate change.
If many companies have been forced to try out teleworking, should they not, once the emergency is over, move on to offer their workers flexible systems that allow them to work from home, in a climate of trust that will enable them, for example, to avoid rush hour and be more productive in the process? An important aspect that companies that will be adversely affected by this pandemic is to adopt Virtual Assistant as a new way of working. This will save them money and also time to train and hire new employees.
If we have been able to cleanse the air in our cities to levels unseen in decades, would it not be an idea to think about how we can maintain those levels? Would it not be good to speed up the deadlines for withdrawing harmful technologies and rebuilding our economies on the basis of investment in clean technologies? As I write, countries have started adopting the use of robots and other technologies even in this pandemic. Robot Helping Battle Covid19.
We’ve seen that social protection schemes fail in the face of an intrinsically global phenomenon such as a pandemic, so why not take on the challenge of building a more resilient economic system, which protects the most disadvantaged, based on unconditional basic income?
If schools and colleges have tested e-learning systems, should they not rethink the way they teach, so as to improve communication, assessment systems or allowing students with the flu to stay at home without infecting their classmates so they can attend classes remotely? In short, shouldn’t this crisis be an alarm signal about the many things we need to change in education?
Labor, environment, the economy, education and healthcare are just four examples of things that should change after this pandemic. Let me put it like this: are we really sure that we want to go back to ‘normal’ after the pandemic? And since we have manage to make a clean break with it… why not take advantage and move on to something better?