Exploring opportunities from COVID-19 pandemic | Dailytrust

Exploring opportunities from COVID-19 pandemic

The World Health Organisation officially declared the SARS-CoV2, the new coronavirus pandemic on March 11, 2020. Since then, the virus has spread to every corner of the globe, infecting millions, disrupting life in ways no one alive has seen or imagined.

To limit the spread of the novel coronavirus and mitigate its negative health consequence, various measures were imposed by governments worldwide in 2020. Those included lockdowns, closing schools and businesses, closure of borders, quarantine, and wearing face masks, to mention a few. Nigeria followed these global trends with various states’ closing schools, banning large gatherings and restricting movements.

While the necessity and appropriateness of these measures are still debated, in most countries, people were to some extent tolerant regardless of the impacts the actions had on their livelihood and wellbeing. Most were consoled by the belief that the light is at the end of the tunnel, with various coronavirus-killing vaccines on the horizon.

The COVID-19 vaccines became available in 2021 – though not universally available and the world heaped a sigh of relief. However, the virus is also mutating: Alpha variant, Beta variant, Gamma variant, Delta variant and Omicron variant have been detected in many countries. Thus, as we celebrate the end of 2021, at the COVID-19 front, we entered 2022 with rising coronavirus cases. Total global COVID-19 cases of about 290,157, 607 and total global deaths of approximately 5,443,774 have been reported by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre as of 03.01.2022 – with the recent Omicron variant also detected in multiple countries sending the world, including Nigeria, back to 2020 like control and preventive measures.

Two key learnings from this journey so far include the growing consensus among experts that we might have to learn to live with COVID-19 for a little bit longer, how long, nobody knows. There is also the realisation that if we have to live with COVID-19, we can’t go back to doing things as we used to pre-COVID-19. As such, earlier post-COVID-19 recovery plans are giving way to transformations plans – with ‘Build Back Better’ as the main catchphrase.

‘Build Back Better’ will have different faces in different countries. Still, in general, it will aim to restore equitable social systems, enhance livelihood and protect the environment. In literal terms, don’t just open schools, businesses and public services but discover ways to improve public health, education and economic outcomes in the long term. To learn from the challenges of the pandemic and leverage the opportunities the COVID-19 pandemic presents in many critical areas including, the future of education, work, health care systems, social protection and more.

Thus, there are both challenges and opportunities in many areas arising from the pandemic. Education, for example, is one of the critical areas most affected by the virus. Schools were closed and conventional classes were abandoned. In response, many countries, who can afford and with the appropriate infrastructure, technology and access, adopted e-Learning to minimise the effect. In the process, they used the opportunity to improve internet coverage among students and schools, explore and develop digital learning tools for the 21st-century education system and beyond COVID-19.  To ensure easy access, many countries adopted ways to lower the cost of the internet in partnership with the private sector to make digital learning sustainable and equitable.

The pandemic witnessed a turn in global relationships. Rich countries became more individualistic, with many resorting to hoarding critical supplies controlling the exportation of their manufactured goods and outbidding poorer ones for critical products they do not have.

However, consequently, many countries are forced to start investing in research and development to revitalise the domestic production of essential commodities to secure their health systems.

Another focus of post-COVID-19 transformational plans is aligning the recovery plans to environmental fiscal reforms to make economies greener. Many high-income countries are investing in green initiatives.

Transformational changes happening around the world will, directly and indirectly, affect us as a country. If we fail to embrace the digital revolution happening worldwide, for example, in education we will risk exacerbating the digital divide between the have- and have-not.

Investments in research and development are needed to support local production and reduce our dependencies. Otherwise, we might have a different story to tell in future pandemics – as the next pandemic is when, and not the question of if. Less dependence on fossil fuel will have far-reaching consequences on countries that rely on fossil fuel as their primary revenue source.

Now is the time to take full lessons of the pandemic and explore the opportunities it exposed. Governments, at all levels, should explore this and see how they can build a more resilient society. It is important to note that other parts of the world are exploring this. They may be more selfish in the next time of emergency.

Dear Reader,
Every day, we work hard to provide readers such as you with the most accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive information. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Your support means that Daily Trust can keep offering journalism to everyone in the world. Sign up for as little as N1,000 to become a member. Learn more about our membership here

Bank transfers can be made to:
Zenith Bank
Media Trust Ltd

Please send details of your bank transfer to the email or Whatsapp number below so that we can contact you.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

Email: membership@dailytrust.com
Whatsapp: +234 806 990 3410