That old saying - health is wealth - has earned new meanings in this past year or so. Being fit was a maxim - and yet this unwavering focus was hardly a match for the unknown and invisible enemy in the shape of COVID-19.
Immunity took over the centrestage as we watched the healthcare infrastructure being tested to its most. When will it end? This is a question for which we do not have concrete answers, but what we do possess is resilience, hope and the will to fight for survival.
It’s very likely that the globe and its inhabitants will function normally in two years’ time, both on the personal and business fronts, though the term ‘normal’ might have a new meaning. The looking glass has a story to tell; there are certain repercussions of the aftermath of the pandemic that we might still have to face in the not-so-distant future.
The largest financial strain due the pandemic has been on governments. The cost of healthcare, vaccine and administration has left a humungous burden on countries and the global spend would easily be in trillions. Who will foot the bill?
The governments spend from tax and the other income they generates. There are two broad ways in which the state can compensate for the deficit; (a) impose additional taxes, (b) print more money, or a combination of both. The additional tax route may be less likely - at least in the near future.
The other alternative is quantitative easing – which means more currency could be made available by the state. The simple logic of more money chasing fewer goods will follow and it is very likely that we see an inflationary trend.
The first Industrial Revolution brought about a change in lifestyle – we moved from community living to extended families and then to a nuclear family. Then came single parent families and now it seems we are going beyond that.
Covid triggered the concept of isolation. If you want to be safe than avoid human contact – that is the message embedded in most minds now. This isolated society of individuals would have its own set of problems – one such problem is mental health.
When facing a crisis, individuals used to turn to their family members and close friends and relatives for advice and consolation – and these might become farfetched in a future contactless society. The only other alternative would be to reach out to counsellors and find solace.
Healthcare facilities in most countries were hardly able to cope with the influx of patients. Lack of adequate infrastructure resulted in the dearth of attention and which in turn pushed up fatalities. It is very likely that countries and businesses will invest more in healthcare capacity. The cost of health insurance is also likely to increase.
Tourism and aviation
Though it will take some time for people to be comfortable with travel and holidays, an upward trend is a natural outcome. Countries that have a low infection rate and an efficient vaccine drive will be the firsts to benefit from this trend. Businesses are getting used to online meetings, so a better growth in leisure travel compared to business travel can be expected.
Work can be done in an office or at home miles away. This is the lesson we learned from the pandemic. Corporates are likely to take the advantage of hiring a low-cost global resource rather than a physically placed employee in the country. Countries that have skilled human resources with lower cost of living are the ones who will benefit.
Employee contracts and labour laws would need to align for such scenarios to facilitate hiring and firing processes.