Lessons from COVID-19

The purpose of life is to obey the hidden command which ensures harmony among all and creates an ever better world. We are not created only to enjoy the world, we are created in order to evolve the cosmos.

Maria Montessori

These are unprecedented times. In a day and age where atoms and bits converge in a way like never before, who would have thought an organism a few nanometres in size would bring much of the world to a standstill.

It is no secret that the Corona virus has caught most of the nations off guard. As knowledge around the virus keeps growing, and efforts for an affordable and accessible vaccine near us, it bodes us well to learn from the current global situation and be better prepared for the next time we might come across a similar gray rhino.

Think. Do. | Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Lead with Thinkers and Doers: We have various reports of false news being propagated : Some which says Corona Virus is a hoax, and others which advise unscientific unproven treatment for a pandemic which still doesn’t have a cure. Other times, people might just not go along with a short term inconvenience like wearing of masks.

Going along with leading thinkers and doers, who are at the forefront of medicine, research, policy and action might be a good way to make more informed decisions and a longer shot at staying around.

Strategy, Planning, Execution and Lockdowns | Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.

Ronal Reagan

Governments: Given the lever of policy making and vast resources, Governments are, in more ways than one, capable of making decisions that can have cascading effects (for better or worse) at scale.

The key to making initiatives work lies in analyzing the challenge ahead, dissecting it at macro and micro level detailing for specific frames of reference, planning for what would be required to get through the challenge, creating a team/ task force which has demonstrated leadership and execution capabilities, taking on the challenge which includes taking quick decisive action when presented with any new feedback/ information and then keeping on the persistence track till the tide gets over.

Unambiguous and fast communication between all levels of decision making and execution, for eg between the Central and State Governments for seamless execution is something which is super crucial to the success of initiatives which expand beyond a single state/ union territory.

It also makes for a good strategy for the Government to partner with people and organizations in the private sector, which have demonstrated leadership and capabilities towards the common goal. Public private collaborations leveraging on technology, data (with privacy concerns taken care of) and execution accelerate the pace of desired outcome.

Targeted dynamic and granular lockdowns based on spread, density and signs of recovery, with social distancing and safety mechanisms in other areas are a good way to go, to ensure the economy does not come to a complete standstill. This extends as much to food security, as it does for regular product manufacturing. Some of the effects such as where the production/ manufacturing, assembly and finish happens will also come into play based on prevalent situations in the respective regions and ease of movement between the same.

The saving grace, as we can clearly see, is in the details.

Public Healthcare System Needs To Be Relooked At| Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Public Healthcare: It’s pretty much evident how important a nation’s public healthcare system is, plus the need to ensure that individuals across different states, regions and social strata have access to quality and affordable healthcare.

Treatment capacity that can be ramped up fast, plus ensuring safety of all those at the front line (quality infrastructure, PPEs, trained backups, ensuring they are taken care of well and especially paid on time) will also determine the quantum of lives that can be effectively saved in the long run.

Given how ill prepared most of the nations are, it makes perfect sense to increase the investments in public healthcare, along with public education, clean energy and other investments that have a greater return for a nation, with time.

In a connected world, we can expect continued ways the system will continue to be stressed with repeat incidents of infectious diseases. Creating quality capacity and capability ensures we can save more lives more times.

Rough road ahead | Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Economy, Jobs and Livelihood: Owing to shutdowns and lockdowns in various parts of the world, businesses across sectors, esp travel, hospitality and commercial real estate, have taken a major hit. Given continued lag in economic activity, businesses have also had to take the decision of mass layoffs.

10% of India’s population, or 139 Million (13.9 Crore) people may deplete their lifetime savings by the end of June and would find it difficult to meet essential consumption. Adding in the unorganized sector, which also includes a fair number of migrants and daily wage earners, we could expect this to be closer to 50-60% for India in the months ahead.

In America, more than 40 million Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits since the Corona Virus pandemic forced the US economy to shut down in March; with one in four American workers having filed for unemployment insurance.

A fair amount of change, especially in digitization of the world, less dependence on commercial real estate and less geography based hiring (given acceleration in flexible work, and work from home) is expected to keep accelerating for now. When we get back to normal (however we define normal) is anyone’s guess.

Face the Future | Image by melli666 from Pixabay

We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.

Helen Keller

Public Behaviour: Till an affordable and accessible vaccine for Corona virus is made possible, ensuring individuals follow the below pointers as a standard regular practice will ensure the safety and well being for us and our families:

  • Stay at home/ Shelter in place, wherever possible : Don’t step out unless you have an important reason to do so.
  • Practice social distancing in public : Stay 6 feet away from others.
  • Cover a cough or sneeze with sleeves or tissue : Dispose the tissue and wash hands afterwards.
  • Wash hands with a soap or hand sanitizer: If coming back home from outside, consider taking a shower.

By behaving responsibly, we not only protect ourselves and our families, but also others.

No Time To Die | Image by Jozef Mikulcik from Pixabay

We had Bill Gates making the case for a Global Healthcare System way back in 2015, and have incredible leaders like Seth Berkley at GAVI, amongst others, leading the way for a way out from the current pandemic.

Post the current rough learning curve, the world needs to cement in the need for ongoing global collaboration on research and sharing of benefits that come from the same. We have seen the need for global collaboration for healthcare, and the same also applies to other challenges ahead such as climate change and development of artificial intelligence.

Genius and capabilities exist across continents and leveraging human brilliance through continued global collaboration should be a no-brainer to ensure continued progress of human race.