Photo: Bangladesh Post

We thought we had it all right; our way of living was right, our way of balancing the society was right, our way of providing health care to the masses was right, our way of handling the state of the affairs, including politics, was right.
The coronavirus outbreak has demonstrated how wrong we were. The outbreak is in the process of showing us that our ways weren’t right at all.
The universities, the research think-tanks, the tall-talking governments across the world, the financial and economic theorists, the communists, the capitalists, the so-called welfare states, the globalizers, the greedy profiteers, the branders — no one was right.
The unseen enemy, Covid-19, has proven everything wrong. Our ways were wrong and I sense that when it leaves after a rampage, it is likely to change us, the global population, forever.
The first change is likely to occur in the health care sector. The outbreak has proven how the existing health care system — including hospital facilities and medical research — are so unprepared in the face of a mass disaster.
The amount of equipment to keep patients alive is not at all sufficient. And then there’s the matter of protective gear for the physicians.
Some studies showed that, by the year 2030, the world will see a sea-change in the health care sector. Scientists have said that they will successfully develop human body parts such as hearts, kidneys, livers, etc in the laboratory in order to save lives.
The patients would be able to buy these organs when they required them. I think the experiences from the ongoing outbreak will expedite that process, and what we were expecting to happen in 2030 will perhaps be a reality much earlier, say by 2025.
The process of applying artificial intelligence is already going on — this process will also get further impetus.
The outbreak has shown that treating patients is a major risk for human physicians. Therefore, there will be a surge in developing robot-physicians across the world through the application of artificial intelligence.
Some futurists have predicted that in the decade of 2030-2040, the health care era will begin. People across the globe will put the highest priority on their individual health. I think we no longer have to wait that long for a health care era.
By now, everybody has come to know that those with better immune systems can fight the coronavirus better than those with weaker immune systems.
At the same time, governments across the world may start waking from their slumbers and think of investing more in health care rather than military and weaponizing.
Covid-19 has shown that no amount of military hardware can save the nations in the face of such a virus outbreak.
The use of military personnel is also something to watch. They are being used to keep people locked inside their homes, which the police are unable to do. The role of the military may transform; they might have a new role in nation-building rather than fighting wars in a remote land.
Our understanding of national and international security will change. The World Wars, the Cold War, the Middle Eastern crises, and 9/11 were milestones that changed our sense of security over the years.
After 9/11, we saw massive terrorism-related security checks at ports and airports. Although it was difficult for people across the world, we got habituated with those security checks — they gave us comfort.
The next phase to go as far as the security checks are concerned will involve people’s health. Immigration authorities across countries will now ask for health care checks.
Ports and airports are likely to have checkups for infectious diseases for the people travelling from one country to another. We may have to carry a health report when we travel.
And that’s how global tourism is likely to change. All the tourist spots around the globe are likely to have health checkups for the people who want to go sight-seeing.
The worst impact of the outbreak will be on the employment situation. The outbreak may leave thousands of companies bankrupt, and with them, tens of millions of people will go jobless.
The joblessness will create a major law and order breakdown. Law enforcing agencies will have to find new ways to deal with that social unrest. Governments will have to think of newer ways of creating social safety nets that protect citizens who might sink below the poverty line.
In this piece, I only mentioned a few changes that are in the offing soon. There are millions of aspects that will change our lives forever. Five years from now, when we look back, we won’t be able to recognize what we were in 2020.
First published in Dhaka Tribune.

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