Will life ever be the same again? Eventually, probably, but right now normality is a long way off and likely won’t be possible until a vaccine has been found and proven to be safe. With businesses suffering, families restricted from being with one another and the very fabric of our society torn apart by a virus, we are going to feel the effects of COVID-19 for a long time to come.
But what exactly will they be? Right now, we are familiar with the need to maintain a safe social distance and necessity for face coverings, but what about when those are no longer compulsory? There will be a healing stage as the world slowly returns to normal, not even an eventual vaccine will see society snap back to what it was overnight.
Here, we will take a look at some of the lasting effects the global pandemic is likely to have on our world, some of which may be more surprising than others.
Backdated Cancer Treatment
Cancer patients have seen treatment delayed due to the pandemic, with many of the most widely used treatments known to impact the immune system. With the virus still prevalent in the community, the desire to continue to treat patients and impede the immune system is low, with the thinking being that it would cause more harm than good to persevere with treatment such as immunotherapy and radiotherapy.
Even with more dedicated cancer treatment centres opening up, there will be a huge backlog of patients long after the pandemic is over. This has been estimated to take years for health services to catch up on, which will sadly result in more deaths.
Sports Events Behind Closed Doors/Reduced Capacity
One of the most significant effects of the pandemic has been the holding of elite sporting events without any spectators in attendance. English Premier League football, Formula One and NBA basketball have all taken place without fans in attendance, although the latter has managed to incorporate virtual fans in the arena through the use of LED screens.
Large gatherings have been banned in almost all countries through the pandemic and, although there are plans in place to slowly start to bring fans back into stadiums at reduced capacities, it is highly unlikely we will see packed arenas any time soon. Television broadcasters, in an attempt to fill the void left by fans, have played pre-recorded crowd noise to try to replicate the viewing experience. While this has pleased some who struggled with the sound (or lack thereof) an empty stadium, others have taken to this new way of watching sports where you can hear every sound made by those competing.
While 2020 will always be known as the year of COVID, it will also be known for the year that businesses well and truly embraced remote work. Through necessity, workers left the office and set up their workstation at home, remaining in contact with their colleagues through applications such as Zoom.
As a result, many businesses have been left pleasantly surprised by the productivity of teams working remotely. This looks set to stay, with many companies willing to allow their workers to continue to work from home, only coming into the office for meetings and collaborative projects. With this, workers benefit from a better work-life balance by taking away the need for travel to and from the office (which also helps to save money).
The Shopping Experience as We Know It
It was no secret that the high street had been suffering due to the rising popularity of online shopping but, due to restrictions as a result of the pandemic, fewer shoppers have been keen to return to the physic shop floor. Instead of waiting in line and wearing masks to be allowed inside the store, shoppers are more comfortable searching for what they need/want online, happy to wait for next-day delivery for the item to be posted to them.
Retailers have been forced into diving into the world of e-commerce, with online sales making up the majority of their business. The same thing goes for restaurants that would otherwise have packed tables night after night, now being reliant on takeaways with orders coming through online. Without this, businesses would not be able to stay afloat while social distancing restrictions are in place.
We are all very away of our personal hygiene right now, taking those extra steps to ensure cleanliness just in case you might be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus. Wiping down any surface you touch in a public space has become the norm, whilst screens in offices have also become a regular feature in workplaces. While these are necessities now, will we revert to old habits once the pandemic has been confined to the history books?
There is not anything wrong with taking extra care when it comes to hygiene, of course, but very few of us would have considered going to the lengths that we are now. There is a strong chance that this will all stay in place, at least for a long time after COVID, as it has been drummed into us for so long now.
These are just some of how our world looks set to change (or stay the same, depending on how you look at it) in a post-COVID world. Some of these may be seen as being for the greater good while, no doubt, others see some of these measures as a hindrance. Whatever happens, these all let set to stay for the foreseeable future.