In this week’s news, we look at The Straits Times’ article
<<At least one more year of living with Covid-19>>, and forecast what the near future looks like.
In the Article
This COVID-19 Special starts on a grim note, with the reporter stating that the pandemic has gone from bad to worse. 4.4 million people globally have been infected with the virus by the end of June, and another 600,000 have become infected within the first week of July. Though some countries have been able to manage the spread of infection, it has come at a great cost to the economy.
The COVID-19 outbreak in our foreign worker dormitories have shown how difficult it is to curb the spread of the virus even within a confined group. That explains why even though it’s easy in theory to eradicate the virus, the practice is near impossible. Essential services has to continue, so there’s no way for anyone to stay completely isolated for a full month. That being said, after months of lockdown and closure of non-essential businesses, many countries have managed to reduce the number of cases so as to not overwhelm healthcare systems.
Moreover, a full lockdown comes with serious tradeoffs as put forth by Professor Euston Quah from Nanyang Technological University’s Economic Growth Centre. With each day of closure, there are billions of forgone opportunities and lost businesses. This threatens jobs and leads to reduced spending, which multiplies the rate of recession. A responsible government has to consider the balance between potential infections and fatalities against significant losses of jobs and incomes.
We should also be warned of a potential second surge of cases in countries that have eased restrictions. Iran, for example, has seen a surge from under 1,000 in early May to 3,500 a day in June. This is a direct result of them easing restrictions on public events and travel between cities in March. The problem is not contained in these regions too. As long as there are still surging infections in parts of the world, international travel will still be at standstill.
With all said and done, it will be a long time before life goes back to normal. We are not expecting a vaccine by this year, and that is the only possible way to stop the impact of coronavirus. Till then, we have to continue taking precautions against the import or local spread.
Experts like Dr Kurup have also questioned if a vaccine will be the solution we long for. Questions remains over how effective the vaccine is, and whether it works well in older people who are most affected by the virus. Considering the scale of infection, one also wonders if there will be enough vaccine produced for everyone who needs it. We must also make sure the vaccine is fully effective. Otherwise, the virus would continue to spread, and in worst cases scenario to mutate. For the foreseeable future, our best bet lies in management. While experts expect the community cases to inch up, we need to make sure it is doesn’t place a strain on our medical resources. Social distancing measures, personal protection like a mask, and working from home are something we have to get used to, even as measures are relaxed with regards to social interactions and travel.
One thing is for sure. Things will not revert to pre-COVID-19 era by the end of 2021.