Updated: May 19, 2020
As we begin to see the pandemic curve flatten around the world, a spectrum of possible post-Coronavirus futures emerges. Several unknowns will guide us to what the new normal will be.
It seems likely that we are at the beginning of a multi-wave pandemic where each wave will grow smaller and less potent much like the trajectory of a flat stone skimming the top of an undisturbed body of water. According to epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, the virus will keep churning through the population until we reach to about sixty to seventy percent (60%) herd immunity.
The sad truth is that we will not emerge from lockdown suddenly immune, we will remain susceptible. The question of whether we should lift lockdown restrictions and allow for herd immunity to develop or lock everything down and wait it out in a faux-apocalypse fashion until there is a vaccine, is plaguing the minds of governmental administrations around the globe.
Regardless of which option is chosen, or combination- allow for controlled exposure geared towards increasing the likelihood of herd immunity, there will be (or should be) significant changes to the way we function in our day to day lives.
COVID-19 has arrived in a world that was already leaning towards working and shopping from home, a world of more convenience, with many of us seeking to make our homes self-sufficient. The coronavirus pandemic will likely accelerate these trends.
With masks well on their way to becoming a new wardrobe staple, the way we greet people when we do leave our homes, will definitely change; handshakes, high-fives and kisses may be on their way out of societal norms. Physician and immunologist Anthony Fauci, recently said that he would probably never shake hands again. Most people however, may not.
A sinister, but probable, outlook would have us consider that a pandemic far more formidable may not be too far behind. COVID-19, while being highly infectious pales in comparison to the lethality of SARS which sickened and killed hosts before being able to attain a vast spread. A virus with the infectious capacity of COVID-19 combined with the virulence of SARS would be catastrophic.
Talk of contact tracing technology, apps has already begun to circulate. There seems to be much concern over privacy and varying perspectives on whether this will be incorporated as part of the fight against COVID-19. The United Kingdom has launched a beta version of their contact tracing app and has aptly demonstrated the difficulty in designing such an app without the help of tech giants like Apple and Google. Whether or not this becomes a part of our mainstream, it is likely that similar innovations will soon make their way to the forefront.
We don’t know for sure what the future will look like, it will slowly unfold before us. We do however have a chance to have an impact on how that future looks, our response will determine which policies, trends, inventions will ingrain in our mainstream culture.