The Covid-19 pandemic has hit our world, and hit our world hard. Every facet of our lives has been impacted – the country’s been closed, businesses have shuttered, and the global economy has dipped. However, nothing is without some benefits, and the coronavirus is no exception. Society will still experience plenty of improvements as a result of Covid-19, including a rejuvenated public health sector, an environmental recovery, and lessons in crisis management for future leaders.
The first notable benefit of the pandemic is a rejuvenated public health sector. Covid-19, while endangering millions, has also turned the attention of the world to viral diseases and epidemiology. No other disease in recent times – SARS, Ebola, H1N1, MERS, even AIDS – has captured the attention of the world quite like the coronavirus. With Covid-19 in mind, thousands of students are likely to go forward, pursuing careers in biology or medicine, determined to meet the challenges that future pandemics pose. Hundreds of institutions will now be equipped with valuable data about viral outbreaks, aiding in research and increasing the accuracy of models. Scores of pharmaceutical and medical technology companies will know the most efficient methods of distribution, how to properly manage supply chains, what products will be in demand, what the burden on manufacturing will be.
The coronavirus will also result in major environmental benefits, some of which have already been observed. Studies show that between 2019 and 2020, there has been a 40% decrease in levels of NO2 pollution, a 37% dip in coal-related products production, and nearly a ⅓ reduction in oil consumption. CO2 emissions are down worldwide, including a dramatic 10.30% drop in China. Animal population and range has rallied with human interference now at a minimum, and wildlife trade has been banned in parts of Asia as part of an effort to prevent future zoonotic diseases, protecting rare creatures such as pangolins and civets.
Most importantly, we know going forward that environmentally conscious living is much more within reach than what was once thought. Many arguments against environmentally conscious living cite that such a lifestyle is too much of an inconvenience to be sustainable. However, the past year has demonstrated our ability to successfully work and socialize from home. The Nasdaq Composite, Dow 500, and S&P Index have all made full recoveries, in fact rebounding to beyond pre-pandemic levels, perhaps indicating that at-home work and environmentally conscious living is not as costly as many make it out to be. If all these improvements have been made in the span of a year, think of what can be achieved going forward.
Finally, the Covid-19 pandemic will provide future leaders valuable insight with regard to crisis management. It’s a given that the times ahead are fraught with danger; as population rises, we’ll be more susceptible to viral outbreaks, global warming induced natural disasters, and economic crashes, among the many other consequences of unchecked consumption and explosive birth rates. But though the American response to the pandemic has been woefully inadequate, our successors will know where mistakes were made, on how viral pandemics require firm mandates and immediate action. Carbon emissions have done irreversible damage to our atmosphere, but future presidents will know the warnings of scientists are not to be taken lightly. The coronavirus is not just a lesson in public health and ecological living; it’s a lesson on what makes a leader, on how decisive policy is what gets us through tough times, and on why listening to the science is so important.
The scars of Covid-19 will not fade for many years. Some have been forced to close their businesses, some have had to say goodbye to family members, some have had permanent damage to their bodies. But perhaps we can pull something good out of all the bad; perhaps the coronavirus can serve as a catalyst for public health sector improvements, for environmental recovery, for more competent policy. Take the coronavirus as an immunization-though our planet has been left damaged by the disease, we’ll be well equipped to fight future pandemics. Maybe Covid-19 is the shot in the arm our world needs.