The world awaiting us after coronavirus

It’s almost impossible to talk about anything other than the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus is the greatest challenge the modern world has faced, and it’s a threat to everyone regardless of nation, religion, language, or how developed a country is. Everything people talk about now is related to the virus.

COVID-19 started in China and quickly spread across the globe. But unless the virus mutates, humanity will win. However, it’s also true that after the pandemic is over, we will be living in a post-coronavirus world. My personal belief is that, contrary to what many people believe, we won’t be living in a more integrated world, but instead a more separated one.

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It’s easy to see how the coronavirus spread so quickly and how people became so desperate. First of all, in a world where transportation is so interconnected, it’s hardly surprising that a virus from China, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of goods, could reach all corners of the globe. In fact, a lot of films in recent years have taken on this very topic. If you’re interested and haven’t watched it already, check out “Contagion”, a 2011 film by Steven Soderbergh.

The reason humanity is so hopeless against the virus is that, in most countries, the health systems are inadequate. Go anywhere in the world and you won’t find a country with a health system that has completely solved all of the problems they’re facing. In the early days of the Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s rule in Turkey, there were huge developments in the health sector. Even former United States President Barack Obama considered moving the United States to a universal healthcare system, but he was unsuccessful. It’s not easy to break the dominance of private hospitals and private health insurance.

Looking at it from this perspective, it doesn’t seem surprising then that people’s hands are tied against an epidemic in a world where the health systems aren’t working. The important thing is how countries figure this out once this is all over.

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Frankly, I have no doubt that people will start with making suggestions about how to improve health systems, and solutions will be found based on these ideas. However, there won’t be any easy solutions. It’s difficult to train enough doctors, and it’s not easy to offer everyone good services when some people don’t have private health insurance. In any case, people have a tendency to quickly forget hard times, and most countries’ health systems will carry on with the same problems they’ve always had.

The airline industry has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. Every airline company has reduced its flights, and some carriers are on the verge of bankruptcy, with travel bans placed in many countries. Nevertheless, aside from the travel bans, the other thing the airline industry needs to look at is hygiene. Many people in the industry know that air travel is not hygienic at all, and it could have helped to spread coronavirus – although this topic has not been researched enough yet.

Humanity needs to understand that the coronavirus is just a beginning, and that without a more integrated world order, we remain under threat. It’s for this reason that I have no hope at the moment. In the post-coronavirus days, we shouldn’t be surprised if we see countries retreat further into isolation as xenophobia increases.

At the moment, the virus is hitting Europe the hardest, so many European countries have decided to close their borders. The outbreak has coincided with a refugee crisis at the Turkey–Greece border, where thousands of people were hoping to cross into Greece. Just two weeks after that crisis began, hardly anyone in the world is talking about those migrants. No one has even bothered to find out whether the virus has emerged among the people forced to camp at the borders because everyone is wrapped up in their own problems.

Still, in the post-coronavirus world, I think that anti-refugee sentiment will continue, and even if the borders are opened, the refugees will still live in misery. Even if they are able to enter Europe somehow, it’s possible they will be detained in quarantine for a while under the pretext of coronavirus.

Still, the coronavirus will not drag us into a dystopian future as so many of us have seen in movies and books. The future world won’t be like, for example, the 1996 movie “12 Monkeys” - about a deadly virus that forces survivors to live underground - but nor can we say that another pandemic would not leave us in a situation like that. However, humanity is in a place now where we are far from being able to even grasp such a thing.

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The most important thing this pandemic has shown us is that people being unable to work together just makes global problems even more difficult to overcome. Humanity needs to understand that the coronavirus is just a beginning, and that without a more integrated world order, we remain under threat. It’s for this reason that I have no hope at the moment.

I used to believe that, if there were a pandemic, people would immediately come together to face it. After what I’ve seen over the last few days, I no longer believe that.

Post-coronavirus humanity will not really think much about how the pandemic brought on such great destruction. Instead, everyone will blame everyone else, and the world will carry on from where it left off. This might be one of our biggest mistakes because people will not understand the pandemic as a warning, and we will fail to do what needs to be done.

The pandemic is not yet over, and it’s possible we haven’t even seen the worst of it. Although we’ll face even harder times, the most terrifying thing is the prospect of impoverished parts of Africa and Latin America experiencing the virus on the same scale that Europe has. I hope that no books will be written in the future about how millions of people lost their lives during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

© Ahval English

The views expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.