The Future is Here: A Guide to the Post-COVID World 06/25/2021

Welcome to your guide to the direction the world is heading during the pandemic and beyond, by Andrew Marshall. Each week, we’ll bring you the latest and greatest expert information and international news on how the coronavirus is reshaping international business. To stay informed every week, sign up for the newsletter here.

Let’s go around the world in seven minutes or less.

In the featured articles this week:

  • The Delta variant gets scarier.
  • Positive tests hit the Olympics a month earlier.

The big story

The key theme for this week: COVID’s massive indirect blow to global health.

Not to be depressing, but: you are probably about to catch a cold. Or your child is, if you have one. And if your child catches a cold, so do you.

That (familiar) logic has been largely suspended over the past year and a half as we deal with COVID-19 lockdowns. Now it’s coming back. My colleague’s son Alex had a cold, and then a week later so did he.

It turns out that Alex is a trailblazer (we’ve always known that). “As more and more people venture out of their bubble and take off their masks, some catch what they call ‘the re-emergence cold’,” says CBS New York, as the health effects of COVID beyond the pandemic itself begin to be felt.

“This is the first time since April 2020 that we have started to see other things circulating,” Trevor Bedford, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, tells STAT news. Some of these illnesses are short term irritations like a cold; some are more serious, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can be dangerous for children.

“These common viruses appear at a fairly rare time of year – and sometimes with rare virulence in children whose immune systems have not begun to familiarize themselves with them while the pandemic has kept people isolated at home.” , he added. say it Washington post.

Some of the side effects have been positive. Seasonal flu has killed around 4,000 to 22,000 people a year in the UK, until it practically disappeared last year, report it Guardian. There is evidence that the incidence of some other infectious diseases has decreased, although what has really gone down is the number of doctor visits and the diagnoses these doctors could have made.

“There have been substantial reductions in primary care contacts for acute physical and mental conditions with restrictions, with limited recovery by July 2020,” according to a study in the Lancet Digital Health medical journal. “It is likely that much of the care gap represents unmet need, with implications for subsequent morbidity and premature mortality.” These diseases have always happened but have not been detected, and some will kill people.

It goes far beyond the direct effects of COVID. Factors that will worsen the effects of heart disease, for example, include “lifestyle changes, reduced exercise, working from home, disrupted education for students, reduced social interactions, poor mental health. more perilous and socioeconomic difficulties ”, explains a study in the European Heart Journal.

In addition, vaccination against non-COVID diseases has dropped significantly due to the pandemic. “The first reports during the COVID-19 pandemic documented a marked decline in pediatric vaccine orders and administration, putting American children and adolescents at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. ” reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The pandemic has been a big step backwards for health, especially in the United States. “The United States has seen a massive drop in life expectancy in 2020 on a scale that has not [been] seen since WWII ”, Dr Steven Woolf of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, tell USA today discussing a new study in the BMJ, a journal of the British Medical Association. “It’s quite astonishing and it has not been experienced on this scale by other countries.”

The worst part is that these positive and negative effects are not evenly distributed. “People with fewer resources and from more disadvantaged communities are likely to be more negatively affected… while those with more resources may be more likely to receive the benefits” concludes a study of International Journal for Health Equity.

This is particularly the case in the poorest countries. In Africa and Asia, “the hard truth is that we will see more additional deaths from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in 2021 due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 in 2020”, says Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund, which manages the procurement of drugs for these diseases.

And this is also true in the United States. “We found big differences in the reductions in life expectancy during the covid-19 pandemic based on race and ethnicity. The decline in life expectancy among black and Hispanic men and women was about two to three times that of whites, and much larger than that of peer countries, ”says the BMJ study.

Just as the future is already with us on a small scale – glimpses of future innovations – so the past lives with us visibly and invisibly. Missed vaccinations, lost immunity, exercise you didn’t do – all of this will persist as the world recovers and we forget we ever wore a mask at the supermarket. Summer colds are the least, but they are a reminder.

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The world at a glance

Insights from around the world, in ten bullets or less

  • The Biden administration will likely miss its vaccination target. The president had said he hoped to deliver at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 70% of adults by July 4, but the the vaccination rate has slowed.
  • The Delta variant represents a growing threat. “The US government is stepping up efforts to vaccinate young Americans against COVID-19 as concerns grow over the spread of a new variant that threatens to roll back the country in the coming months,” says NBC. It accounts for more than a fifth of coronavirus infections in the United States in the past two weeks. And a new version – Delta Plus – looks like premium airline status but in reality “may be more transmissible and resistant to COVID-19 treatments”, says NPR.
  • Vaccines made in China may not work as well. “Examples from several countries suggest that Chinese vaccines may not be very effective in preventing the spread of the virus, especially newer variants,” the New York Times reports. “The experiences of these countries expose a harsh reality in a post-pandemic world: the degree of recovery may depend on the vaccines that governments give to their people. “
  • The wave of COVID in Africa continues unabated. “African health officials urgently appeal for vaccines to fight a third wave of COVID-19 sweeping the continent”, reports Voice of America. “WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said cases had increased in the past four weeks. She says new cases over the past week have increased by nearly 30% across the continent and deaths have increased by 15%. Meanwhile, Uganda is running out of oxygen, according to NPR.
  • The Olympics get its first positive cases. Two members of the Ugandan team were put in isolation after arriving in Japan, the games are still a month away. “The Tokyo Olympics, already delayed by the pandemic, doesn’t look very fun: not for the athletes. Not for the fans. And not for the Japanese public ”, the Associated Press writes. The matches advance despite the threat.
  • COVID has left societies more divided. A Pew Research Center study in seventeen advanced economies shows that “about six in ten report that national divisions have worsened since the start of the epidemic”. There is a clear division as to the scope of the restrictions. About 40 percent think the level of restrictions on public activity has been about right. “An almost equal share think there should have been more restrictions to contain the virus. A minority in most audiences think there should have been fewer restrictions. “
  • State and county fairs return. Nothing more American than these celebrations of all that is rural and local. Last year most were canceled, but they’re all coming back in 2021. “The good news is now that most of Vermont’s fairs are gearing up for a big comeback in just a few weeks.” reports MyChamplainValley.com. New York State Fair returns to 100% capacity, says North Country Public Radio. the Chicago Tribune popular that “one of the big draws, The Butter Cow, will be celebrating its 100th anniversary at the Illinois State Fair this summer,” while the Monmouth Fair in Maine will welcome hustle and bustle of pigs. And if you don’t know what butter cows and pork porridge are, it’s time to leave your house and find out. AP News has all the latest developments here.

The scoop inside

Atlantic Council Perspectives

Andrew Marshall is the Vice President of Communications for the Atlantic Council. He leads the Council’s media, digital and editorial efforts and coordinates how the Council communicates with its key communities.



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