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Yuval Noah Harari

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speech on world after covid 19

Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation. The decisions people and governments take in the next few weeks will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture. We must act quickly and decisively. We should also take into account the long-term consequences of our actions. When choosing between alternatives, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes. Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive — but we will inhabit a different world. 

Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours. Immature and even dangerous technologies are pressed into service, because the risks of doing nothing are bigger. Entire countries serve as guinea-pigs in large-scale social experiments. What happens when everybody works from home and communicates only at a distance? What happens when entire schools and universities go online? In normal times, governments, businesses and educational boards would never agree to conduct such experiments. But these aren’t normal times. 

In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity. 

Under-the-skin surveillance

In order to stop the epidemic, entire populations need to comply with certain guidelines. There are two main ways of achieving this. One method is for the government to monitor people, and punish those who break the rules. Today, for the first time in human history, technology makes it possible to monitor everyone all the time. Fifty years ago, the KGB couldn’t follow 240m Soviet citizens 24 hours a day, nor could the KGB hope to effectively process all the information gathered. The KGB relied on human agents and analysts, and it just couldn’t place a human agent to follow every citizen. But now governments can rely on ubiquitous sensors and powerful algorithms instead of flesh-and-blood spooks. 

l Colosseo - Roma webcams of Italy project. by Graziano Panfili

In their battle against the coronavirus epidemic several governments have already deployed the new surveillance tools. The most notable case is China. By closely monitoring people’s smartphones, making use of hundreds of millions of face-recognising cameras, and obliging people to check and report their body temperature and medical condition, the Chinese authorities can not only quickly identify suspected coronavirus carriers, but also track their movements and identify anyone they came into contact with. A range of mobile apps warn citizens about their proximity to infected patients. 

About the photography

The images accompanying this article are taken from webcams overlooking the deserted streets of Italy, found and manipulated by Graziano Panfili, a photographer living under lockdown

This kind of technology is not limited to east Asia. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel recently authorised the Israel Security Agency to deploy surveillance technology normally reserved for battling terrorists to track coronavirus patients. When the relevant parliamentary subcommittee refused to authorise the measure, Netanyahu rammed it through with an “emergency decree”.  

You might argue that there is nothing new about all this. In recent years both governments and corporations have been using ever more sophisticated technologies to track, monitor and manipulate people. Yet if we are not careful, the epidemic might nevertheless mark an important watershed in the history of surveillance. Not only because it might normalise the deployment of mass surveillance tools in countries that have so far rejected them, but even more so because it signifies a dramatic transition from “over the skin” to “under the skin” surveillance. 

Hitherto, when your finger touched the screen of your smartphone and clicked on a link, the government wanted to know what exactly your finger was clicking on. But with coronavirus, the focus of interest shifts. Now the government wants to know the temperature of your finger and the blood-pressure under its skin. 

The emergency pudding

One of the problems we face in working out where we stand on surveillance is that none of us know exactly how we are being surveilled, and what the coming years might bring. Surveillance technology is developing at breakneck speed, and what seemed science-fiction 10 years ago is today old news. As a thought experiment, consider a hypothetical government that demands that every citizen wears a biometric bracelet that monitors body temperature and heart-rate 24 hours a day. The resulting data is hoarded and analysed by government algorithms. The algorithms will know that you are sick even before you know it, and they will also know where you have been, and who you have met. The chains of infection could be drastically shortened, and even cut altogether. Such a system could arguably stop the epidemic in its tracks within days. Sounds wonderful, right?

The downside is, of course, that this would give legitimacy to a terrifying new surveillance system. If you know, for example, that I clicked on a Fox News link rather than a CNN link, that can teach you something about my political views and perhaps even my personality. But if you can monitor what happens to my body temperature, blood pressure and heart-rate as I watch the video clip, you can learn what makes me laugh, what makes me cry, and what makes me really, really angry. 

It is crucial to remember that anger, joy, boredom and love are biological phenomena just like fever and a cough. The same technology that identifies coughs could also identify laughs. If corporations and governments start harvesting our biometric data en masse, they can get to know us far better than we know ourselves, and they can then not just predict our feelings but also manipulate our feelings and sell us anything they want — be it a product or a politician. Biometric monitoring would make Cambridge Analytica’s data hacking tactics look like something from the Stone Age. Imagine North Korea in 2030, when every citizen has to wear a biometric bracelet 24 hours a day. If you listen to a speech by the Great Leader and the bracelet picks up the tell-tale signs of anger, you are done for.

Veduta della casa universitaria - Lodi webcams of Italy project. by

You could, of course, make the case for biometric surveillance as a temporary measure taken during a state of emergency. It would go away once the emergency is over. But temporary measures have a nasty habit of outlasting emergencies, especially as there is always a new emergency lurking on the horizon. My home country of Israel, for example, declared a state of emergency during its 1948 War of Independence, which justified a range of temporary measures from press censorship and land confiscation to special regulations for making pudding (I kid you not). The War of Independence has long been won, but Israel never declared the emergency over, and has failed to abolish many of the “temporary” measures of 1948 (the emergency pudding decree was mercifully abolished in 2011). 

Even when infections from coronavirus are down to zero, some data-hungry governments could argue they needed to keep the biometric surveillance systems in place because they fear a second wave of coronavirus, or because there is a new Ebola strain evolving in central Africa, or because . . . you get the idea. A big battle has been raging in recent years over our privacy. The coronavirus crisis could be the battle’s tipping point. For when people are given a choice between privacy and health, they will usually choose health.

The soap police

Asking people to choose between privacy and health is, in fact, the very root of the problem. Because this is a false choice. We can and should enjoy both privacy and health. We can choose to protect our health and stop the coronavirus epidemic not by instituting totalitarian surveillance regimes, but rather by empowering citizens. In recent weeks, some of the most successful efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic were orchestrated by South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. While these countries have made some use of tracking applications, they have relied far more on extensive testing, on honest reporting, and on the willing co-operation of a well-informed public. 

Centralised monitoring and harsh punishments aren’t the only way to make people comply with beneficial guidelines. When people are told the scientific facts, and when people trust public authorities to tell them these facts, citizens can do the right thing even without a Big Brother watching over their shoulders. A self-motivated and well-informed population is usually far more powerful and effective than a policed, ignorant population. 

Consider, for example, washing your hands with soap. This has been one of the greatest advances ever in human hygiene. This simple action saves millions of lives every year. While we take it for granted, it was only in the 19th century that scientists discovered the importance of washing hands with soap. Previously, even doctors and nurses proceeded from one surgical operation to the next without washing their hands. Today billions of people daily wash their hands, not because they are afraid of the soap police, but rather because they understand the facts. I wash my hands with soap because I have heard of viruses and bacteria, I understand that these tiny organisms cause diseases, and I know that soap can remove them. 

"a Reggia di Caserta webcams of Italy project. by

But to achieve such a level of compliance and co-operation, you need trust. People need to trust science, to trust public authorities, and to trust the media. Over the past few years, irresponsible politicians have deliberately undermined trust in science, in public authorities and in the media. Now these same irresponsible politicians might be tempted to take the high road to authoritarianism, arguing that you just cannot trust the public to do the right thing. 

Normally, trust that has been eroded for years cannot be rebuilt overnight. But these are not normal times. In a moment of crisis, minds too can change quickly. You can have bitter arguments with your siblings for years, but when some emergency occurs, you suddenly discover a hidden reservoir of trust and amity, and you rush to help one another. Instead of building a surveillance regime, it is not too late to rebuild people’s trust in science, in public authorities and in the media. We should definitely make use of new technologies too, but these technologies should empower citizens. I am all in favour of monitoring my body temperature and blood pressure, but that data should not be used to create an all-powerful government. Rather, that data should enable me to make more informed personal choices, and also to hold government accountable for its decisions. 

If I could track my own medical condition 24 hours a day, I would learn not only whether I have become a health hazard to other people, but also which habits contribute to my health. And if I could access and analyse reliable statistics on the spread of coronavirus, I would be able to judge whether the government is telling me the truth and whether it is adopting the right policies to combat the epidemic. Whenever people talk about surveillance, remember that the same surveillance technology can usually be used not only by governments to monitor individuals — but also by individuals to monitor governments. 

The coronavirus epidemic is thus a major test of citizenship. In the days ahead, each one of us should choose to trust scientific data and healthcare experts over unfounded conspiracy theories and self-serving politicians. If we fail to make the right choice, we might find ourselves signing away our most precious freedoms, thinking that this is the only way to safeguard our health.

We need a global plan

The second important choice we confront is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity. Both the epidemic itself and the resulting economic crisis are global problems. They can be solved effectively only by global co-operation. 

First and foremost, in order to defeat the virus we need to share information globally. That’s the big advantage of humans over viruses. A coronavirus in China and a coronavirus in the US cannot swap tips about how to infect humans. But China can teach the US many valuable lessons about coronavirus and how to deal with it. What an Italian doctor discovers in Milan in the early morning might well save lives in Tehran by evening. When the UK government hesitates between several policies, it can get advice from the Koreans who have already faced a similar dilemma a month ago. But for this to happen, we need a spirit of global co-operation and trust. 

In the days ahead, each one of us should choose to trust scientific data and healthcare experts over unfounded conspiracy theories and self-serving politicians

Countries should be willing to share information openly and humbly seek advice, and should be able to trust the data and the insights they receive. We also need a global effort to produce and distribute medical equipment, most notably testing kits and respiratory machines. Instead of every country trying to do it locally and hoarding whatever equipment it can get, a co-ordinated global effort could greatly accelerate production and make sure life-saving equipment is distributed more fairly. Just as countries nationalise key industries during a war, the human war against coronavirus may require us to “humanise” the crucial production lines. A rich country with few coronavirus cases should be willing to send precious equipment to a poorer country with many cases, trusting that if and when it subsequently needs help, other countries will come to its assistance. 

We might consider a similar global effort to pool medical personnel. Countries currently less affected could send medical staff to the worst-hit regions of the world, both in order to help them in their hour of need, and in order to gain valuable experience. If later on the focus of the epidemic shifts, help could start flowing in the opposite direction. 

Global co-operation is vitally needed on the economic front too. Given the global nature of the economy and of supply chains, if each government does its own thing in complete disregard of the others, the result will be chaos and a deepening crisis. We need a global plan of action, and we need it fast. 

Another requirement is reaching a global agreement on travel. Suspending all international travel for months will cause tremendous hardships, and hamper the war against coronavirus. Countries need to co-operate in order to allow at least a trickle of essential travellers to continue crossing borders: scientists, doctors, journalists, politicians, businesspeople. This can be done by reaching a global agreement on the pre-screening of travellers by their home country. If you know that only carefully screened travellers were allowed on a plane, you would be more willing to accept them into your country. 

Il Duomo - Firenze. webcams of Italy project. by

Unfortunately, at present countries hardly do any of these things. A collective paralysis has gripped the international community. There seem to be no adults in the room. One would have expected to see already weeks ago an emergency meeting of global leaders to come up with a common plan of action. The G7 leaders managed to organise a videoconference only this week, and it did not result in any such plan. 

In previous global crises — such as the 2008 financial crisis and the 2014 Ebola epidemic — the US assumed the role of global leader. But the current US administration has abdicated the job of leader. It has made it very clear that it cares about the greatness of America far more than about the future of humanity. 

This administration has abandoned even its closest allies. When it banned all travel from the EU, it didn’t bother to give the EU so much as an advance notice — let alone consult with the EU about that drastic measure. It has scandalised Germany by allegedly offering $1bn to a German pharmaceutical company to buy monopoly rights to a new Covid-19 vaccine. Even if the current administration eventually changes tack and comes up with a global plan of action, few would follow a leader who never takes responsibility, who never admits mistakes, and who routinely takes all the credit for himself while leaving all the blame to others. 

If the void left by the US isn’t filled by other countries, not only will it be much harder to stop the current epidemic, but its legacy will continue to poison international relations for years to come. Yet every crisis is also an opportunity. We must hope that the current epidemic will help humankind realise the acute danger posed by global disunity. 

Humanity needs to make a choice. Will we travel down the route of disunity, or will we adopt the path of global solidarity? If we choose disunity, this will not only prolong the crisis, but will probably result in even worse catastrophes in the future. If we choose global solidarity, it will be a victory not only against the coronavirus, but against all future epidemics and crises that might assail humankind in the 21st century. 

Yuval Noah Harari is author of ‘Sapiens’, ‘Homo Deus’ and ‘21 Lessons for the 21st Century’

Copyright © Yuval Noah Harari 2020

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International Edition

Opening Remarks by Anna Akhalkatsi on Building the Post-Pandemic World: The Path to a More Sustainable, Resilient, and Safe Society

Anna Akhalkatsi is a Country Manager for Romania and Hungary “Protecting Romania together” conference Bucharest, Romania

As Prepared for Delivery

Esteemed organizers and guests,

It is an honor to be here with you to tackle burning issues around Romania’s development. Today’s discussion takes place during a time of unprecedented challenge.

In addition to the suffering of those mourning over their loved ones after having lost the battle with COVID-19, we are witnessing severe impacts of the pandemic on many aspects of our life, economy and society, hindering years of prosperity.

COVID-19 has triggered the sharpest recession in Europe since World War II. We have discussed this extensively in our latest EU Regular Economic Report titled Inclusive Growth at a Crossroads published this summer. But more importantly, it was felt by so many of us and those around us.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on Romania as well. Before the onset of the pandemic, Romania experienced one of the highest growth rates in the EU. This has led to rising household incomes, booming urban centers, and to a significant decline in the share of the population living in poverty. For example, poverty fell from almost 30 percent in 2013 to under 11 percent in 2018. However, with COVID-19, poverty has not only stopped declining but, according to our estimates, an additional 800.000 people were at risk of poverty one year after the start of the pandemic.

Other areas seriously impacted by the pandemic include education, health, investment, productivity, and potential growth.

From our studies, we have also seen food security remaining a concern in marginalized rural areas and communities with large Roma settlements. For example, one year from the start of the pandemic, 7 percent of surveyed families reported scaling back on food consumption to cope with the crisis triggered by the pandemic. Currently, with increasing food prices, the situation might have even worsened.

On the education front, COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities for children who were already struggling at school, for those with less support at home or with limited access to internet and computers. Before the pandemic, as recorded by PISA assessment in 2018, the share of functionally illiterate students in Romania was very high, at 41 percent. In simple words, 41 percent of our kids could read the text but could not comprehend it. Now, our estimates suggest that one year into pandemic, this indicator went up by additional 10 percent, which means that every other child in post-pandemic Romania may be functionally illiterate.

Turning towards the impact on the pandemic on private sector, a key pillar of the economy, we should note that in Romania, like in other EU countries, firms have been significantly affected. Through our surveys, we have found that firm sales dropped by more than a third between May and July 2020 (relative to 2019 numbers). Furthermore, our Regular Economic Report shows that smaller and younger firms were hit harder, and benefited less from public support.

On the economic side, Romania’s economy contracted by 3.9 percent in 2020, which is significant but still less pronounced than the EU average of 5.9 percent. Yet, Romania fell back into the upper-middle-income group of countries, after being classified by the World Bank as a high-income country for the first time, based on the 2019 data[1].

But every crisis has a silver lining. So, allow me now to shift the discussion towards the opportunities that this crisis presents.

According to our regional Economic Update launched last month, Romania’s economy is projected to expand by around 7 percent in 2021, which should allow poverty to go back to declining trend already this year.

In the coming years, Romania will benefit from unprecedented levels of EU funding of almost 80 billion Euro under the EU’s Multi-annual Financial Framework for 2021–27, as well as under the Recovery and Resilience Facility. These resources, when used effectively, can help Romania to recover faster from the pandemic and build back in a sustainable, green and inclusive way.

We encourage the central and local authorities to focus on fully absorbing these funds, maximizing their impact, particularly through well-designed investments in health care, education, support for job creation, small and medium enterprises development, and other vital parts of the economy.

In the short term, addressing vaccine hesitancy is crucial for containing the COVID-19 crisis and limiting its health, economic and social impacts. We hope to see continuing the upward vaccination trend that we have observed over the past couple of weeks.

But as recovery becomes firmly established, Romania must tackle fiscal consolidation to avoid an unsustainable increase in public debt and to alleviate the concerns of the business community and markets. Given the large budget deficit and the limited fiscal space, I cannot stress more how critical the efficient absorption of the EU funds is for a sustainable economic recovery.

The strength of Romania’s recovery will depend on the government’s progress in two key areas - one is strengthening institutions, to ensure that they respond to the needs of the citizens and businesses; and the second is successful completion of long-awaited structural reforms in key areas, including pensions, public pay and employment, revenue mobilization, and expenditure efficiency.

In the recovery process, we encourage the government to also ensure that the most vulnerable and poor benefit from the economic upturn. Worldwide experience shows that a prosperous society is also an inclusive one. Inequality is still a major challenge in Romania. Can we really say that Romania prospers when important parts of our society do not benefit from this prosperity? Not really. The inclusion agenda requires more commitment and customized solutions in order for each and every Romanian citizen to benefit from the country’s wealth.

Finally, speaking about silver-lining, we cannot not mention digitalization. The ICT, or the information, communication and technology sector in Romania, has thrived even during COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, it expanded by over 10 percent in real terms and was the fastest-growing segment of the economy. The government should tap into the local expertise and market to leverage the opportunities brought by digital technologies – this is the case for the public administration, but also for firms and individuals. Another good news is that the National Resilience and Recovery Plan will enable greater investment in this area, with 20 percent of the funds to be directed towards supporting the digital development of the country.

At the World Bank, we support Romania in its journey to converge with its EU peers. Our technical and financial support aims to help the country to build stronger institutions and pursue reforms to enable a more prosperous and inclusive country. We invite you to find out more about our work from our online and social media channels.

I salute the initiative of the National Institute of Statistics, one of our counterparts in Romania, to organize, jointly with its media partner, such a large-scale conference and to bring together so many decision-makers, policymakers, and stakeholders. There is no better moment to come together and collaborate than now, as we all need to step up our efforts towards a more green, inclusive and resilient Romania.

[1]  (per capita income of $12,610).

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speech on world after covid 19

Finance & Development


Life Post–COVID-19

Daniel Susskind , James Manyika , Jean Saldanha , Sharan Burrow , Sergio Rebelo , Ian Bremmer

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Six prominent thinkers reflect on how the pandemic has changed the world

Daniel Susskind

In March 2020, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, an influential figure in British intellectual life, described the COVID-19 catastrophe as “the nearest we have to a revelation for atheists.”

At the time I thought the comparison was apt. It captured the biblical sense of shock that many of us felt in the face of such a sudden, extreme, and swiftly accelerating crisis. We “have been coasting along for more than half a century,” he remarked, and all at once “we are facing the fragility and vulnerability of the human situation.”

Now, a few months on, Rabbi Sacks’ comparison with revelation still seems fitting, but for a different reason, and one that matters for thinking about a world after COVID-19.

This crisis is alarming, in part, because it has several new and unfamiliar features. A global medical emergency caused by a virus we still do not fully understand. A self-inflicted economic catastrophe as a necessary policy response to contain its spread.

And yet as time has passed, it has also become clear that much of what is most distressing about this crisis is not new at all. Striking variations in COVID-19 infections and outcomes appear to reflect existing economic inequalities. Remarkable mismatches between the social value of what “key workers” do and the low wages they receive follow from the familiar failure of the market to value adequately what really matters.

The happy embrace of disinformation and misinformation about the virus was to be expected, given a decade of rising populism and declining faith in experts. And the absence of a properly coordinated international response ought to have come as no surprise, given the celebration of “my country first” global politics in recent years.

The crisis then is a revelation in a far more literal sense—it is focusing our collective attention on the many injustices and weaknesses that already exist in how we live together. If people were blind to these faults before, it is hard not to see them now.

What will the world look like after COVID-19? Many of the problems we will face in the next decade will simply be more extreme versions of those that we already confront today. The world will only look significantly different this time if, as we emerge from this crisis, we decide to take action to resolve these problems and bring about fundamental change.

James Manyika

The world after COVID-19 is unlikely to return to the world that was. Many trends already underway in the global economy are being accelerated by the impact of the pandemic.

This is especially true of the digital economy, with the rise of digital behavior such as remote working and learning, telemedicine, and delivery services. Other structural changes may also accelerate, including regionalization of supply chains and a further explosion of cross-border data flows.

The future of work has arrived faster, along with its challenges—many of them potentially multiplied—such as income polarization, worker vulnerability, more gig work, and the need for workers to adapt to occupational transitions. This acceleration is the result not only of technological advances but also of new considerations for health and safety, and economies and labor markets will take time to recover and will likely emerge changed.

With the amplification of these trends, the realities of this crisis have triggered reconsideration of several beliefs, with possible effects on long-term choices for the economy and society. These effects range from attitudes about efficiency versus resilience, the future of capitalism, densification of economic activity and living, industrial policy, our approach to problems that affect us all and call for global and collective action—such as pandemics and climate change—to the role of government and institutions.

Over the past two decades, in advanced economies, responsibility has generally shifted from institutions to individuals. Yet health systems are being tested and often found wanting, while benefits from paid sick leave to universal basic income are getting a second look. There is potential for a long-term shift in how institutions support people, through safety nets and a more inclusive social contract.

As history has shown, choices made during crises can shape the world for decades to come. What will remain critical is the need for collective action to build economies that deliver inclusive economic growth, prosperity, and safety for all.

Jean Saldanha

In The Pandemic Is a Portal , Indian author Arundhati Roy writes, “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”

The way multilateralism operates will have to change to reflect this very different world. The COVID-19 pandemic has been testing the limits of global cooperation. Support for developing economies in particular remains inadequate. They were hit early by the global economic downturn, including through record capital outflows and tightening financial conditions. Facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, these economies are experiencing unprecedented pressure on their already limited fiscal capacity to tackle urgent public health and social needs.

Choices made now will have far-reaching consequences. Reliance on more of the same is untenable and ignores the scale of human suffering unleashed by the pandemic.

A fitting UN-led reform agenda must include the IMF in addressing the structural problems that have driven debt vulnerability across developing economies. Such an agenda must shift development finance away from market-friendly reforms and incentives for private investment. It must abandon the dogma of austerity. Furthermore, rich countries must finally meet their official development assistance commitments.

Power imbalances in global institutions must also be corrected to give fair recognition to the needs and rights of the two-thirds of the world’s population who reside in the Global South.

If the international community fails to respond decisively now, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement will be fatally derailed. A new multilateralism—in which reform of the Bretton Woods institutions will play a key role—is needed now and must be based on a vision of development that puts human rights, gender equality, and climate at its center.

Sharan Burrow

The world after the first wave of COVID-19 must be more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. Today, we live in a world in which inequality between and within countries has grown as a result of businesses’ race to the bottom and working poverty among a vast portion of the global workforce. Too many countries suffered the external shocks of COVID-19 without universal social protection, robust public health systems, a plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, or a sustainable real economy with quality jobs.

The Bretton Woods conference occurred while a war was still raging and helped formed the basis of a postwar social contract. Similarly, we need to craft an ambitious reconstruction plan while working to end the pandemic. International support is a matter of collective survival and an investment in the future of health, the global economy, and multilateralism. The choice is ours, and the actions of the IMF and the multilateral system will be a deciding factor.

Our goal for recovery should be full employment and a new social contract. Public investment in the care economy, education, and low-carbon infrastructure can form the backbone of stimulus that reduces inequality. Wage policy, collective bargaining, and labor market regulation can revive demand and income while putting an end to a business model that allows companies to take no responsibility for their workers.

Debt should be addressed through a relief process focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and enduring economic growth for every country. Shortsighted fiscal consolidation hindered debt management and reduction after the global financial crisis and would again leave us even less able to deal with future health and economic crises.

Shared prosperity can be the fruit of a COVID-19 world marked by shared ambition and global solidarity.

Sergio Rebelo

COVID-19 will leave a lasting imprint on the world economy, causing permanent changes and teaching important lessons.

Virus screening is likely to become part of our life, just like security measures became ubiquitous after 9/11. It is important to invest in the infrastructure necessary to detect future viral outbreaks. This investment protects economies in case immunity to COVID-19 turns out to be temporary.

Many economies adopted versions of Germany’s Kurzarbeit (short work) subsidy during the pandemic. This policy keeps workers employed at reduced hours and pay, with the government compensating some of the shortfall in wages. By keeping matches between firms and workers intact, the economy is better prepared for a quick recovery. It is important to improve the implementation of these policies and make them a permanent part of our economic recovery tool kit.

Remote work is likely to become more common. We had some evidence that working from home is at least as productive as working at the office . However, many companies were reluctant to embrace remote work. Now that many have tried it with good results, remote work might be here to stay.

The pandemic crisis has accelerated the pace of digital transformation, with further expansion in e-commerce and increases in the pace of adoption of telemedicine, videoconferencing, online teaching, and fintech.

Companies with international supply chains are dealing with shortages and bottlenecks. We are likely to see many of these companies reshore some of their production. Unfortunately, this trend will not create many jobs because most of the production is likely to be automated.

Governments will be bigger after playing the role of insurer and investor of last resort during the crisis. Public debt will balloon, creating financial challenges around the world.

The most important lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of working together on problems that affect the entire human race. We are much stronger united than divided.

Ian Bremmer

The global order was in flux well before the COVID-19 crisis. Coronavirus has accelerated three of the key geopolitical trends that will shape our next world order… which will await us on the other side of this pandemic.

The first trend is deglobalization ; the logistic difficulties brought to light by the current crisis are already pointing to a shift away from global just-in-time supply chains. Yet as economic difficulties mount, the inevitable growth of nationalism and “my nation first” politics will push companies to localize business operations that favor national and regional supply chains.

The third trend, China’s geopolitical rise , has been more than three decades in the making. But while China has successfully transformed itself into an economic and technological superpower, no one expected it to become a “soft power” superpower. This crisis can change that, if China’s crisis diplomacy continues and the perception endures that Beijing has been far more effective than the rest of the world in its response to the outbreak.

Of course, just because China appears to be faring better doesn’t mean it actually is. There’s a reason people take Chinese numbers with a grain of salt. This general distrust was further fueled by the initial Chinese cover-up of the outbreak, which enabled its global spread. Donald Trump and his administration are leaning into this narrative as an election strategy and to deflect attention from their own handling of the pandemic. China won’t take this lying down, making it increasingly likely that once the world emerges from the current pandemic, we will be plunged into a new cold war, this time between the United States and China.

New world order or not, some things just don’t change.

speech on world after covid 19

Daniel Susskind  is a research professor at King's College London and a senior research associate at the Institute for Ethics in AI at Oxford University.

speech on world after covid 19

James Manyika is chairman and director of the McKinsey Global Institute.

speech on world after covid 19

Jean Saldanha is director of the European Network on Debt and Development.

speech on world after covid 19

Sharan Burrow is general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

speech on world after covid 19

Sergio Rebelo is a professor of international finance at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Ian Bremmer

Ian Bremmer is president and founder of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media.

Opinions expressed in articles and other materials are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect IMF policy.

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Keynote speech to the world health summit 2021 – 24 october 2021, unicef executive director henrietta fore.

Excellencies, colleagues, friends … it is a pleasure to be with you here today for the World Health Summit.  

I am honoured and inspired by the spirit of collaboration among experts in science, politics, business, government and civil society represented at this Summit.   

On behalf of UNICEF, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak with you now at this critical moment in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic – a pandemic which continues to impact so many aspects of our lives.   COVID-19 has hobbled economies, strained societies and undermined the prospects of the next generation. While children are not at greatest direct risk from the virus itself, they continue to suffer disproportionately from its socioeconomic consequences. Almost two years into the pandemic, a generation of children are enduring prolonged school closures and ongoing disruptions to health, protection and education services.  

That is why today I am here to discuss the health threats facing the 2.2 billion children around the world who UNICEF serves, and the opportunity we have to protect them.  

Driven by new variants of concern, the virus continues to spread. While successful vaccination campaigns in the wealthy world have driven down rates of hospitalization and death, millions in low income countries await their first dose, and fragile health systems – on which children rely – are in jeopardy.  

Yet the gap between those who have been offered vaccination against COVID-19 and those who have not is widening. While some countries have protected most of their populations, in others, less than 3 per cent of the population have had their first dose. Those going without vaccines include doctors, midwives, nurses, community health workers, teachers and social workers – the very people that children, mothers and families rely upon for the most essential services.  

This is unacceptable. As a community of global health leaders, we have a choice. We can choose to act to reach more people with vaccines. This will keep people safe AND help to sustain critical services and systems for children.  

Today, almost 7 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, less than a year since the first vaccine was approved. And we are now on track to produce enough vaccines to protect the majority of people around the world before the end of next year.  

But will we protect everyone?   

Will we send lifesaving, health-system-saving COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s doctors, nurses, and most at-risk populations?  

Will donors continue to fund ACT-A and COVAX sufficiently to procure and successfully deploy the tests, treatments and vaccines needed to end the pandemic? Or will the costs of in-country delivery fall on struggling economies so that they are forced to cut other lifesaving health programmes such as routine childhood vaccinations? 

Will we stand by as the lowest-income countries, with the most fragile health systems, carry on unprotected – risking high death rates due to shortages of tests, treatments and vaccines? Or will we invest so that community health systems everywhere can withstand further waves of the virus, and bounce back from future shocks?  

Will we allow new variants of the virus to flourish in countries with low vaccination rates? Or, will we reap the benefits of global cooperation to defeat this global problem, together?   

The world has learned that financing for prevention, preparedness and response is insufficient and not adequately coordinated. And that is a vital lesson.  

But even more fundamentally, we have learned that the underlying strength of the health sector in general is a critical factor in a country’s ability to weather a storm like COVID-19.  

After all, what good are vaccines if there is no functioning public health system to deliver them?  

How do we hope to contain outbreaks if there are not enough trained and paid healthcare workers?  

This pandemic has been crippling for high income countries where average spending on healthcare per capita exceeds $5,000. So, it is hardly surprising that it is causing critical strain in lower-income countries where the average per capita expenditure on healthcare each year is less than $100.  

The past 22 months have shown us that even as we battle immediate threats such as a pandemic, we must also ensure continuous access to essential health services. If we do not, there will be an indirect increase in morbidity and mortality.  

As COVID-19 took hold of the world, healthcare workers serving pregnant mothers, babies and children faced unthinkable choices. As COVID patients gasped for breath, desperate for oxygen, mothers and babies needed it too. As wards filled up with virus victims, staff were not free to help the very young. As health budgets were stretched to the breaking point, routine healthcare began to go by the wayside.   

These are some of the reasons why more than twice as many women and children have lost their lives for every COVID-19 death in many low and middle-income countries. Estimates from the Lancet suggest up to nearly 114,000 additional women and children died during this period.  

I greatly fear that the pandemic’s impact on children’s health is only starting to be seen.  

While the pandemic has underscored that vaccination is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions, we have already seen backsliding in routine immunization. In 2020, over 23 million children missed out on essential vaccines – an increase of nearly 4 million from 2019, with decades of progress tragically eroded.  

Of these 23 million, 17 million of them did not receive any vaccines at all. These are the so-called zero-dose children, most of whom live in communities with multiple deprivations.       

Here are some of the most urgent choices we could make to address these problems: 

Governments can share COVID-19 doses with COVAX as a matter of absolute urgency and resist the temptation to stockpile supplies more than necessary.  

Governments can also honour their commitments to equitable access and make space for COVAX and other parts of ACT-A at the front of the supply queue for tests, treatments, and vaccines as they roll off production lines.  

Manufacturers can be more transparent about their production schedules and make greater efforts to facilitate and accelerate equitable access to products. This will help to ensure that COVAX and ACT-A get supplies faster. 

Governments, development banks, business and philanthropy can target strategic, sustainable investments in building robust and resilient primary healthcare services – embedded in each and every community.  

We can and we must choose a path ahead that is equitable, sustainable and rooted in the principle that every human being, young and old, rich and poor, has the right to good health.  

And there is good reason to believe that now is the time to set ourselves upon that path.  

A look back at history shows us that global threats and crises that challenge multiple interests and equities have a way of pulling together diverse partners to solve shared problems. Indeed, it is out of some of the most tragic crises that the world has found some of the best solutions.  

I believe now is such a time. We have a historic opportunity to both end the COVID-19 pandemic and set out on the road towards eradicating preventable diseases, ending avoidable maternal, newborn and child deaths, and building a strong foundation for community health that will serve this generation and the next.  

We can and we must seize this moment together.  

Thank you.  

Media contacts

About unicef.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter ,  Facebook , Instagram and YouTube

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The World After the Coronavirus

We asked 12 leading thinkers to predict what happens in 2021 and beyond..

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  • Stephen M. Walt

One year after COVID-19 began its relentless spread across the world, the contours of a global order reshaped by the pandemic are starting to emerge. Just as the virus has shattered lives, disrupted economies, and changed election outcomes, it will lead to permanent political and economic power shifts both within and among countries. To help us make sense of these shifts as the crisis enters a new phase in 2021, Foreign Policy asked 12 leading thinkers from around the world to weigh in with their predictions for the global order after the pandemic.— Stefan Theil, deputy editor

A Time for Leadership

by John Allen , the president of the Brookings Institution

Few, if any, true winners will emerge from this global health crisis—not because the disease was beyond our control but because most countries failed to exert the leadership and societal self-discipline necessary to bring it under control until vaccines became available. COVID-19 has exposed vulnerabilities, magnified weaknesses, and exacerbated long-festering issues.

COVID-19 has fast become one of the ultimate stressors on our already fragile international system, exposing vulnerabilities, magnifying weaknesses, and exacerbating long-festering issues. At the most basic level, this difficult moment has highlighted just how ill-equipped our global health systems are, forcing many countries to make devastating ethical decisions to determine who among their citizenry is most deserving to receive medical care. Furthermore, rather than build a renewed global coalition to fight this awful disease, many countries have instead relied on isolationist policies. This has resulted in piecemeal, ineffectual responses as cases once again spike wildly all over the world, the United States being one of the worst examples.

In truth, COVID-19 represents a complex series of interconnected transnational problems that demand leader-driven, multilateral solutions. To address issues such as systemic racism, climate change, and the need for a global economic recovery, it is truly imperative that we seek to strengthen, not weaken, our shared international order. While science will ultimately save us, there is no hope for coordinated action against the disease—and for our ultimate recovery—without leadership.

The Seeds of Revolution

by Anne-Marie Slaughter , the CEO of New America

The pandemic has demonstrated conclusively that the U.S. government is not an indispensable player in global affairs. The outgoing Trump administration pulled the United States out of the World Health Organization (WHO), refused to join the 172-nation COVAX partnership to ensure equitable global access to a vaccine, and abdicated responsibility for addressing the pandemic at home to U.S. states and cities. Americans are paying the price—but the rest of the world has moved on. The biggest surprise of the pandemic is the dramatic decoupling of the economy of the rich from the economy of everyone else.

It is U.S. philanthropic and civic organizations, companies, and universities that are indispensable. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helped organize Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, both key partners to the European Union and WHO in pandemic-fighting efforts such as COVAX. U.S. pharmaceutical companies are critical to developing, manufacturing, and distributing a vaccine—with or without U.S. government help—even as European companies are also making fast progress. U.S. scientists, doctors, and epidemiologists play vital roles in global networks by sharing information about the virus as well as successful strategies for prevention and treatment.

The biggest surprise of the pandemic is the dramatic national and global decoupling of the economy of the rich from the economy of everyone else. COVID-19 has caused more than a million deaths worldwide and created an economic disaster for wage earners and small businesses. Yet financial markets show little damage—on the contrary, asset values are reaching ever loftier heights. Gaps like that sow the seeds of revolution.

Globalization Is Rapidly Shifting

by Laurie Garrett , a science writer and columnist at Foreign Policy

Given inevitable delays in rolling out vaccines, the coronavirus isn’t going to vanish soon. That’s why the pandemic will continue to rapidly alter the landscapes of globalization and manufacturing. More than a quarter of Fortune 500 CEOs predict that their workforces will not regain their pre-pandemic sizes.

Half of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies don’t plan to restore business travel to 2019 levels. More than a quarter predict that their workforces will not regain their pre-pandemic sizes. Eight in 10 say that nationalism will become a dominant force in the countries where they operate, affecting supply chains, location decisions, and the regulatory climate. And most are convinced that a faster shift to robots and artificial intelligence will help insulate them against future workforce sickouts and epidemic shocks. Even if revenues have recovered for many companies, the mood in boardrooms remains dark.

Most companies and government purchasers still haven’t worked out the production and supply kinks in our pandemic era. They will diversify suppliers to be less dependent on one country such as China and build stockpiles against future disruptions. Companies and governments will move away from the long-term relationships and trade deals that sustained globalization toward less stable commitments that can be made—and broken—in rapid response to future outbreaks and black swan events.

There will be losers. The dire economic consequences of the pandemic have left millions of people bitter, resentful, and likely to blame foreign competitors for their plights. Global health and humanitarian institutions are being severely challenged by rising nationalism and difficulties in raising financial support. As a result, one long-term effect of this pandemic may be that it has made the world less resilient for the next one.

The Competent Asian Century

by Kishore Mahbubani , a distinguished fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute

Numbers don’t lie. The death rate from COVID-19 is lower in East and Southeast Asia. Just compare Vietnam (0.4 deaths per million people), China (3), Singapore (5), South Korea (10), and Japan (17) with Belgium (1,446), Spain (979), Britain (877), the United States (840), and Italy (944). A complacent West just assumed that it would succeed in this battle.

The numbers are the tip of the iceberg. Behind them lies the much bigger story of the shift of competence from West to East. Western societies were once known for their respect for science and rationality. Donald Trump has literally pulled the mask off that illusion. Asians gape at his maskless supporters.

The West was also known for good governance, especially the European Union. The strong second wave of the pandemic confirms that something has gone wrong. But what went wrong? One simple answer is complacency. The West just assumed that it would succeed in this battle. From their previous experience with virus epidemics such as SARS, East and Southeast Asian societies knew that they had to be tough, vigilant, and disciplined. One critical variable is respect for government. Fortunately, these societies never fell for the Reaganite delusion that “government is the problem.” Instead, they see government as the solution. Hence, both the tightly disciplined society of Vietnam and the politically troubled one of Thailand have brought COVID-19 under control. Strong government institutions, especially in the health and medical fields, have responded with competence. And the East Asian economies are also likely to bounce back faster, reflecting competence in economic management.

When future historians look for the start of the Asian Century, they may well point to COVID-19 as the moment when Asian competence resurfaced in strength.

A New Era of State Activism

by Shannon K. O’Neil , vice president, deputy director of studies, and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations The next phase of globalization won’t be shaped by trade, investment, or the spread of viruses but by geopolitics and government activism. Global supply chains have largely recovered from the sharp economic shocks—which curtailed both supply and demand—as a result of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns last spring. But they now face a more lasting challenge from state action. The hardening of U.S.-Chinese political tensions and the decoupling of the two countries’ industrial sectors will continue. Smart industrial policies are needed to tackle problems that markets will not resolve on their own. The weaponization of economic and financial power for geopolitical gain by means of boycotts, sanctions, and other restrictions is catching on. As the global economy struggles to recover from the pandemic, governments across the world are jumping into the economic fray with their efforts to influence and direct investments, spur industrial innovation, manage and defend national security in a digital world, and shape national economies using all manner of policy tools.

Smart industrial policies are needed to tackle problems that markets will not resolve on their own, such as climate change, and to level the playing field between countries by tearing down regulatory and other barriers with comprehensive trade and other multilateral agreements. But all this state activism threatens to increase the kind of heavy-handed protectionism that deepens divisions between countries, fragments supply chains, and suppresses global innovation and growth. The challenge facing the world’s leaders is to intervene in smart ways that maintain and encourage competition and openness.

Authoritarians Look Worse Now

by Stephen M. Walt , professor of international relations at the Harvard Kennedy School

As expected, COVID-19 has accelerated the shift in power from West to East and put further limits on globalization, leading to a world less open and prosperous. But the pandemic has not ended traditional geopolitics or national rivalries, nor did it usher in a new era of global cooperation. Populists have lost ground, and autocrats are under greater pressure after mishandling the pandemic.

While China is recovering, the United States and much of Europe face further waves of infections, largely because leaders failed to respond promptly and effectively. This pattern does not vindicate authoritarian rule, as Beijing and its admirers would have us believe. Democratic Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea, and Taiwan all performed well, while Russia, Iran, and many other dictatorships faltered.

Globalization is in reverse, and international cooperation to defeat the pandemic has been halfhearted at best. The pandemic did not prevent new clashes between India and China, and it did not bring the bloodletting in Syria or Yemen to a close. The rivalry between the United States and China continues to intensify.

The good news? Widespread worries—including my own—that authoritarians, populists, and would-be autocrats would use the emergency to consolidate power have not been borne out. Populists have lost ground in Austria, Britain, and Germany; Poland’s Law and Justice party is facing new opposition; and autocrats such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban are under greater pressure after mishandling the pandemic. Most important of all: The über-populist Donald Trump is now a one-term president.

That, too, is a reason for hope. With resolution, face masks, and the rollout of vaccines, we will get through this.

No, This Was Not a Turning Point

by Richard N. Haass , the president of the Council on Foreign Relations

Surprisingly, there has been no correlation between a country’s political system and its performance in handling the pandemic. Some democracies and authoritarian systems have fared well, others miserably. What matters most is leadership and execution. Here the terrible record of the United States shocks. So much of the loss was avoidable. For all the pandemic’s enormous costs and consequences, little has occurred that cannot be largely reversed.

The pandemic has deepened the U.S.-China rift and stimulated a rethinking of supply chains. Europe looks stronger now that Germany and France are working together and both the European Central Bank and the European Commission have carved out a larger writ. By eviscerating economic growth and forcing countries to enact fiscal stimulus on an unprecedented scale, the pandemic has led to a stunning increase in debt throughout the world.

The greatest political impact might be in the United States, where an inept federal response to the pandemic and its economic effects contributed significantly to President Donald Trump’s election defeat. Had there been no pandemic, or had it been met with only a modicum of skill, Trump might well have won—and set the country on a vastly different course at home and abroad.

More broadly and for all the pandemic’s enormous costs and consequences, little has occurred that cannot be largely reversed once responsible behaviors are followed and widespread testing, better therapeutics, and effective vaccines are introduced. Other challenges—from climate change to nuclear proliferation to great-power rivalry—are more likely to define this era. For its part, the pandemic will not fundamentally reshape international relations and is more likely to be seen in retrospect as a singular event rather than a turning point.

Free Economies Will Rebound

by Kori Schake , the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute

The most consequential changes will be economic. Inequality will widen as those with access to health care, capital reserves, and jobs that can be done remotely are further advantaged. Supply chains will be renationalized—or at least, the experience of severe interruption will lead companies to create backup capacity and rethink location decisions. Demand for raw materials will decline as economies stall. As globalization slows, the profitability of China’s Belt and Road project will collapse. Rapidly innovating economies that can seize opportunities and shift labor will reap outsized rewards. Rising powers are likely to stall, while free-world economies are positioned to dominate new fields.

These changes have major consequences for international security. The costs of the pandemic are so enormous that they will greatly incentivize international cooperation to identify and manage future pandemics. Government budgets will shift spending from defense to public health as the latter becomes an integral part of national security. Tensions within states due to greater income inequality will turn attention inward; states that manage to redress inequality will broaden social cohesion and their economic base. Security alliances such as NATO are likely to take on economic objectives, such as the reliability of supplies, but the push for better burden-sharing is also set to intensify.

Rising powers are likely to stall, while free-world economies are positioned to rebound and dominate new fields. China is already the world’s biggest creditor and is aggressively seeking preferential repayment from debtor governments, which could lead many of them to appeal for protection. This could give the United States a huge opportunity to contain China and organize allies within the existing Western system of multilateral institutions.

A World Dividing Into Bubbles

by Shivshankar Menon , a distinguished fellow at Brookings India and former national security advisor to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

In 2020, the world blew its chance to make an opportunity of the crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It failed to act together and revive multilateralism. Most governments failed to strengthen the bonds of trust between citizens and their state, relying instead on tighter controls, surveillance, and authoritarianism. And several of the most democratic and advanced countries spectacularly failed to protect their citizens’ health and lives. The pandemic accelerated the attempt to fragment the global economy.

Instead, the pandemic accelerated the attempt to fragment the global economy into self-reliant “bubbles,” an attempt that is unlikely to succeed but will likely impoverish us all by limiting growth. Relations among the great powers are more fraught than ever, including those between China and the United States and between China and India.

Judging by the poor performance of world leaders and international organizations so far, the pandemic has also left the world less able to face the future and deal with transnational issues that affect us all—such as climate change, future pandemics, cybersecurity, maritime security, and international terrorism.

China Emerges Turbocharged

by Robin Niblett , the director and chief executive of Chatham House

The Chinese Communist Party’s disciplined suppression of the coronavirus has enabled China to recover its former pace of economic growth and turbocharged its transition to become the world’s largest economy. With China’s neighbors also emerging quickly from the pandemic, East Asia has become the epicenter of global economic growth. The CCP’s disciplined suppression of the coronavirus has turbocharged China’s transition to become the world’s largest economy.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s undisciplined efforts to undercut China’s emergence as a technological superpower have simply accelerated its quest for technological self-sufficiency. In contrast to Trump’s failed go-it-alone approach, President-elect Joe Biden may enable the United States to rebuild its bilateral and alliance relationships to confront China’s rise. But it is now too late for the liberal democracies to set the terms for how China develops its economic power.

Japan, South Korea, the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and even Australia may continue to turn to the United States to guarantee their security. But they cannot afford to join it in undermining the Chinese economy, on which they rely for their own economic futures. The United States and Europe, meanwhile, will spend the next five years focused on managing the fallout from the pandemic on their economies and societies.

Until the Chinese leadership experiences the downsides of its statist and authoritarian model and sets China on a new path, the North Atlantic and Asia- Pacific worlds will continue to diverge.

No Government Can Cope Alone

by Joseph S. Nye Jr. , a professor emeritus at the Harvard Kennedy School

Globalization, or interdependence across continents, responds to changes in transportation and communication technology. COVID-19 has only transformed the shape—less travel, more virtual meetings—rather than the magnitude of globalization. COVID-19 has only transformed the shape—less travel, more virtual meetings—rather than the magnitude of globalization. Some aspects of economic globalization, such as trade, have been curtailed, but that is less true of others, such as finance. Some industrial supply chains are becoming more regionalized, and security concerns are leading companies and governments to place a higher priority on “just in case” rather than “just in time.” But unlike true disruptions such as war, these adjustments are unlikely to fundamentally change global supply chains or international trade. Even if they did, they could not unravel the world’s increasing ecological interdependence.

While economic globalization is influenced by governments, ecological aspects of globalization such as climate change and the spread of pandemics are determined by the laws of physics and biology. Walls and tariffs do not stop transnational global ecological threats, though barriers to travel and persistent economic stagnation may slow them down somewhat. No government can cope alone but must think in terms of power with others as well as power over others. I had not expected that so many countries would be so inept in their response—and so slow to learn.

A Jekyll-Hyde World

by G. John Ikenberry , a professor at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

The COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on our global imaginaries—our visions of the 21st-century world. The pandemic has made us see more clearly our fraught common existence, the lurking dangers inherent in interdependence, the costs of failed international cooperation, the virtues of competent government, the fragility of democratic institutions, the precariousness of Enlightenment-era civilization, and the inescapable fact of humanity’s common fate. The pandemic offers a dramatic reminder that humans have not fully mastered nature and cannot escape their growing interconnectedness.

A year into the pandemic, it is not the problems of the world’s underlying anarchy—nationalism, security competition, war—that appear most pressing. Rather, the world seems more overwhelmed by the problems of modernity—our stumbling incapacities to cope with the deep, worldwide transformations in our societies unleashed by the forces of science, technology, and industrialism. The pandemic offers a dramatic reminder, now playing out in every corner of the Earth, that humans have not fully mastered nature and that we cannot escape the growing interconnectedness inherent in our modern existence.

The pandemic is a reminder that modernity is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde phenomenon: The modern world is continually creating capacities for great advances in human welfare but also for monumental disaster and civilizational catastrophe. The pandemic—together with the growing existential threats of climate change and nuclear proliferation—will lead us to a new era of struggle over the global order in which countries around the world look for ways to realize the gains of modernity while guarding against its dangers.

This article is part of  Foreign Policy’s ongoing series about the world after the COVID-19 pandemic. Other installments include:

How the Economy Will Look After the Pandemic by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Robert J. Shiller, Gita Gopinath, Carmen M. Reinhart, Adam Posen, Eswar Prasad, Adam Tooze, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, and Kishore Mahbubani

How Urban Life Will Be Transformed by Richard Florida, Edward Glaeser, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Kiran Bedi, Thomas J. Campanella, Chan Heng Chee, Dan Doctoroff, Bruce Katz, Rebecca Katz, Joel Kotkin, Robert Muggah, and Janette Sadik-Khan

The Future of Government by James Crabtree, Robert D. Kaplan, Robert Muggah, Kumi Naidoo, Shannon K. O’Neil, Adam Posen, Kenneth Roth, Bruce Schneier, Stephen M. Walt, and Alexandra Wrage

The Future of Travel b y James Fallows, Vivek Wadhwa, Pico Iyer, Rolf Potts, Elizabeth Becker, James Crabtree, and Alexandre de Juniac

The Future of Entertainment, Culture, and Sports by Audrey Azoulay, Rahul Bhatia, Rick Cordella, Mark C. Hanson, Baltasar Kormakur, Jonathan Kuntz, David Clay Large, and James S. Snyder

The Future of Schools and Universities by Arne Duncan, Andreas Schleicher, Mona Mourshed, Jennifer Nuzzo, Ludger Woessmann, Salvatore Babones, Devesh Kapur, Michael D. Smith, and Dick Startz

How the Global Order Will Be Changed Forever by John Allen, Nicholas Burns, Laurie Garrett, Richard N. Haass, G. John Ikenberry, Kishore Mahbubani, Shivshankar Menon, Robin Niblett, Joseph S. Nye Jr., Shannon K. O’Neil, Kori Schake, and Stephen M. Walt

How the Economy Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic will change the economic and financial order forever. We asked nine leading global thinkers for their predictions.

How Life in Our Cities Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic is transforming urban life. We asked 12 leading global experts in urban planning, policy, history, and health for their predictions.

The Future of Travel After the Coronavirus Pandemic

Travel and tourism will be changed forever. We asked seven leading thinkers for their predictions.

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Nato’s military has a new nerve center.

The alliance has transformed its once sleepy headquarters into a war command focused on Russia.

The Brutal Logic to Israel’s Actions in Gaza

The Biden administration’s delicate, much criticized line recognizes the lack of a coherent alternative strategy.

NATO’s Confusion Over the Russia Threat

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From growth to the gig economy: 10 areas to create a better, more resilient future

A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a screen displaying a graph showing recent Nikkei share average outside a brokerage, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan November 2, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato - RC2WUJ9AK39T

Every leader, organisation and individual needs to adjust to the 'new normal' for a better world. Image:  REUTERS/Issei Kato

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Stay up to date:, global health.

  • The pandemic has highlighted domestic and international weaknesses, driving the need for global change.
  • There are 10 broad areas to look at when we consider the world we might want post-COVID-19.
  • Taken together, these should build resilience in the face of existential threats and future threats.

Countless headlines, since the coronavirus pandemic took hold, have used some variation of the phrases “going back to the new normal” and “everything must change”. But what, exactly, is this new normal? And what, exactly, needs to change? The global pandemic has shone a light on significant domestic and international weaknesses. It also exposed some of the myths and fallacies of conventions used to explain the world. Changes that were already happening have been accelerated, fulfilling in a few months what might have otherwise taken decades. Yet not every change needs to be a cause for concern. This is the moment for the current and next generation of leaders to make their mark and grab the opportunity to fix these mistakes and allow for a true reset.

Have you read?

Covid-19 has shown us the true extent of global inequality. in 2021, let's commit to ending it, what the future holds for world trade, according to 8 global leaders, what changes in global and regional cooperation will 2021 bring here’s what business leaders say.

The pandemic has highlighted the need to challenge our assumptions and understanding. We need to change what is clearly no longer suited to our times and the future we want in the face of several existential threats. Here are 10 broad areas to consider:

1. Transforming the corporate world

Before the pandemic, global companies appeared to be incredibly resilient. Interconnectivity was meant to ensure that a problem in one place would shift supply chains elsewhere, and consumers would never see the difference. Goods would remain on store shelves (or, increasingly, on e-commerce sites), with no indication to the shopper of what was happening behind the scenes.

But the pandemic, a truly global shock, exposed the fragility of the global economy and its networks. An interconnected economy, rather than reinforcing resilience, amplified the domino effect – spreading economic pain and disruption around the world, as companies laid off employees.

Governments cannot prevent another global shock from happening, but they can make sure that corporations are ready to meet their obligations to society. This starts with workers, the basis of the social contract between business and society. Policymakers need to think about how to transform corporate incentives to build in actual systemic resilience.

2. Rethinking monetary policy for public good

To respond to the economic pain and disruption of the pandemic and related public-health measures, governments are passing relief packages of record size, numbering in the billions of dollars. Before the pandemic, governments were sceptical of spending too much money. The question “but how do you pay for this?” was common when discussing massive public programmes in both legislatures and the media.

The pandemic has torpedoed these beliefs. As governments tap into their reserves to unleash public spending, they could invest in necessary infrastructure, pay for the public provision of basic needs and public services, and invest in research and development to prepare society for future challenges.

Providing low-cost housing, for example, would give low-income families security and the means to invest in themselves. From starting their own businesses to improving their health, it would be a long-term investment in expanding the ability of more segments of the population to contribute to society.

3. Reimagining growth

Before the pandemic, governments relied on continued growth for political legitimacy. Economic growth is a proxy for success. It is common for emerging economies to choose a “growth target”: either a targeted growth rate for the year or a targeted economic size by a certain period of time.

The world needs to abandon growth as a target in itself. Perpetual growth pushes society to relentlessly consume more resources. As a result, economic policy is distorted, focusing on accounting and investment gimmicks rather than real economic development and progress. Instead, governments in both emerging and advanced economies need to remember what growth is for: improving standards-of-living for a whole population, and not just segments of society.

If countries abandon economic growth as a metric, they will need more meaningful systems of measurement to guide them. Perhaps some combination of employment numbers, access to basic needs, sustainability targets, and investments focused towards the future.

4. Abandoning the 'free hand of the market'

As the pandemic spread, consumers faced shortages of essential products: face masks, hand sanitiser, household cleaning products, toilet paper and frozen food. Hospitals and doctors were short of medical supplies and personal protective equipment.

The pandemic has shown that the market is not able to respond quickly to major crises. But countries with strong governments were able to mobilise and focus the private sector on what is needed for society. For example, China expanded its production of masks and medical equipment, and South Korea was able to dramatically expand testing capacity. The private sector needs guidance, support and, perhaps most importantly, a guaranteed buyer: things the public sector could provide.

Society needs to reassert its control over the market and the private sector, ensuring they are oriented towards the public good. Businesses have a “licence to operate”, but when corporates violate that understanding, societies need to ensure that the private sector acts responsibly.

5. Revoking the free ride of the gig economy

The strains of the gig economy were starting to show before the pandemic, with heavy workloads and tight schedules for couriers. Platforms set strict operating guidelines, penalising any slack in the system. Yet these platforms attract funding based on their ability to scale, offsetting the costs of their model onto gig workers and the rest of society.

For all their faults, the platforms do succeed at what they aim to do: connect providers and customers. A platform that allows a provider – whether a restaurant, a handyman, a driver, an artist, or a small business – to more efficiently provide goods and services to a customer would be a real asset to small- and medium-sized businesses that do not have the resources to create a custom solution.

Governments need to look at which platforms are successful and why, then try to support alternatives that are not reliant on the scale-obsessed model of tech funding.

6. Valuing work that is essential

Many countries resorted to “stay-at-home” orders, with the goal of cutting off virus transmission in the community and avoid overburdening the healthcare system. Workplaces and schools were closed, while shops and restaurants were shut. Businesses and whole industries – air travel, tourism, live entertainment – came to a halt.

But not everyone got to stay at home. The pandemic introduced the term “essential worker” to our lexicon: not just healthcare workers and essential public services, but also delivery people, janitors, grocery store workers, farm labourers and factory workers packaging food. These jobs are often underpaid, yet the pandemic has made the social worth of these jobs obvious.

Much like how governments need to rethink the goods that are strategically essential to an economy in a crisis, they also need to rethink what labour is truly essential, ensuring that those working in these positions are properly compensated and protected so they can help sustain the rest of us.

7. Reframing development priorities

The economic story of the past two decades has centred around digital opportunities and the internet. Development priorities have shifted to accommodate the rise of the internet and deepen smartphone penetration. This was despite the lack of any real evidence that this was what people truly want.

There was underinvestment in infrastructure that would have helped to fight this current pandemic and reduce the risk of the next crisis: clean water, better nutrition, improved sanitation and broader public health infrastructure. Basic services are not the only development priority that have gone ignored. Millions around the world still lack safe and secure housing, stable access to electricity or important public services like education.

Society should constrain the use of any development or public money towards digital technology unless an independent body – and not one dominated by the tech companies – can make a compelling case as to why it would improve development outcomes.

8. Rebuilding the collapsed food system

The pandemic has led to two very different stories about the food industry. On the one hand, empty store shelves and panicked shoppers; on the other hand, distressed farmers dumping excess produce.

The fundamental instabilities in our food systems: the need for migrant labour blocked by closed borders, chokepoints in factories and ports, and reliance on a few large institutional consumers. The pandemic also reveals the dangers of long-term social choices around food. Poor diet arising from the global proliferation of junk food has increased rates of non-communicable diseases, which also contribute to poor outcomes from infectious diseases.

Governments will need to radically rethink how we approach food systems. First, governments need to develop better systems for distributing food, especially in poorer communities that lack options. Secondly, governments need to ensure that grocery stores have enough stockpiles of essential goods. Finally, governments need to invest in local food production, especially in staples.

9. Start a managed retreat from nature

One silver lining to humanity’s retreat indoors has been environmental repair, from wildlife returning to public spaces to improved air quality. In many countries, environmental damage has been cast as a necessary consequence of growth – a sort of collateral damage for a greater good.

But the environmental repair and regeneration of wildlife seen throughout the lockdown is proof that nature is more resilient. The decline is not irreversible. Thus, we can and should invest in large-scale restoration, repair and conservation.

Governments should see this as an encouragement to be bolder in their environmental strategies. Can air pollution not be minimised, but eradicated? What about solid waste? Can we limit suburban sprawl and expand natural areas? Human society can start to restore certain areas, drastically limiting human activity and scaling back the sprawl of human habitation. If the pandemic is any indication, we might start to see the natural benefits of this sooner than we think.

10. Geopolitics behind Western supremacy

The world’s botched response to the pandemic will affect international relations. Asia quickly tightened controls and contained the outbreak. The response of China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan, China, contrasted starkly with that of Europe and the Americas.

The West’s soft power has also been significantly damaged by the pandemic. Far from being China’s “Chernobyl”, as The Financial Times suggested when the disease first emerged, Asian governments have been swift and decisive in their response to contain the pandemic. With Europe and the US deeply divided and struggling to control the pandemic, this has raised serious concerns about the system of governance in the West.

A post-pandemic world will be one with many different powers: China, India, Russia, Europe, Africa, Brazil and the US. Tensions will exist between these different countries, and the boundaries of their influence will be contested. But there are also significant global problems that can only be managed through close cooperation between them.

If there’s one thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, it is that the old assumptions no longer apply.

Countries, corporations and individuals must adjust to the pending new normal.

Countries need to engage with other powers, even those they have severe disagreements with. Otherwise, the global problems will be unresolved and global society will suffer. The Covid-19 pandemic shows that the global system falls flat on its face when confronted with a global problem.

Corporations need to deal with the new realities for resilience in the interconnected economy, and what growth means in an increasing digitalised world.

Individuals, much as we each yearn to return to life as it was before the pandemic, have to adjust to a life that has greater restrictions on what we can do, and most importantly, in harmony with nature.

Leaders, especially, should make their mark and grab the opportunity to fix the mistakes of the past and allow for a true reset.

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Introducing 21 Ways COVID Changed the World

The pandemic didn’t bring us together, but it did show us what we need to change the most

By Jen Schwartz

speech on world after covid 19

Hanna Barczyk

I n the spring of 2020 a cartoon was making the rounds on social media. It showed a city perched on a tiny island, surrounded by ocean. A speech bubble emerged from the skyline: “Be sure to wash your hands and all will be well.” Not far out at sea, a giant wave labeled “COVID-19” was about to crash over the city. Behind it was an even bigger wave marked “recession.” And beyond that one was a tower of water that threatened to swallow it all: “climate change.”

I’ve often thought of that statement, by Canadian cartoonist Graeme MacKay, in moments that seem to define our pandemic disorientation: the botched messaging, willful unpreparedness and exhausted confusion. In America, though, the cartoon didn’t play out exactly as drawn. The economy actually grew in 2021. Does that mean the damage wasn’t as bad as many predicted? That question can only be answered in the context of another superlative: the U.S. claims the highest reported number of COVID cases— as well as COVID deaths —in the world.

The past two years have been full of incongruities, paradoxes and absurdities. Consider the mRNA vaccines . Scientists formed a global hive mind  and delivered a supereffective vaccine faster than anyone thought possible. But more than a year after the shots became available, the U.S. has one of the lowest vaccination rates among wealthy countries. Some Americans think the vaccine represents a weapon of oppression, if not a literal weapon.

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The politicization of our best tool for ending the pandemic surprised everyone. Except for the behavioral scientists, misinformation researchers, sociologists, historians and speculative fiction writers who spent 2020 waving their arms ( sometimes in the pages of this magazine ), calling attention to cognitive bias, influence operations, accessibility issues  and barriers to trust. COVID was never going to be the “common enemy” that finally united Americans. As Alondra Nelson, who is now deputy director for science and society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, explained it to me in December 2020: “This idyllic idea of solidarity, especially in a wartime modality, is created by making an enemy of someone else.” Indeed, former president Donald Trump tried to make an enemy by blaming the virus on China. His xenophobic rhetoric has spread, feeding dangerous conspiracy theories , threatening scientific research and leading to a rise in hate crimes.

The virus provoked other reckonings and pivots—not all of them bad. Many of us who could do our jobs remotely discovered the power of owning our time . COVID concerns made it easier for European cities to install miles and miles of bike lanes, giving us a glimpse of a car-free urban future . The pandemic revealed strange hidden interdependencies; hospital demand for liquid oxygen, for example, delayed rocket launches . It also worsened inequality , increased the prevalence of depressive disorders,  added “moral injury” to the common lexicon and set back students’ learning trajectories for years to come.

Amid the noise of an ongoing emergency, it can be hard to notice troubling new trends . We should be far more concerned about the shadow of long COVID. If millions of people end up developing persistent health issues after the acute disease stage, they will likely encounter a medical system unable to do much more than shrug. As with the climate crisis , many of us avert our eyes from the specter of long COVID because its effects tend to be more insidious than dramatic, and the fixes aren’t quick or easy. Dealing with the problem requires acknowledging what was already broken. Yet for every bleak future there’s a hopeful one. Propelled by the force of patient advocates, research into long COVID could lead to new understanding of other postinfection illnesses and autoimmune disorders.

When we planned this issue, Omicron had not yet emerged. I wondered if people would be interested in stories about a pandemic that wasn’t over, even if they were over the pandemic. Would we be fearmongering to suggest that the pandemic hasn’t ended  because we haven’t vaccinated the world, leaving us susceptible to variants that are more transmissible?

We’re all over COVID. But we can’t give up and leave our collective fate to the machinations of a virus, sighing in relief when one peak crests (for those of us still unharmed) and leaning on wishful thinking that only the best-case scenarios will come to pass. Avoiding adaptation isn’t the key to reaching the endemic stage, nor will it help us prepare for the even bigger waves of climate crises . We assembled this collection of stories to reflect on how COVID has already changed our world, as well as how our world has been resistant to change—even when a virus disrupts everything, even when it shows us what we need to change the most.

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The world before this coronavirus and after cannot be the same

speech on world after covid 19

Professor of Globalisation and Development; Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technological and Economic Change, University of Oxford

speech on world after covid 19

Lecturer, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)

Disclosure statement

Ian Goldin is Professor of Globalisation and Development at Oxford University and the author of The Butterfly Defect and Age of Discovery. He has co-authored a forthcoming book Terra Incognita with Robert Muggah. It is due to be published by Penguin. @ian_goldin

Robert Muggah is the co-founder of the Igarape Institute and a principal of the SecDev Group and a regular contributor to TED and several major news outlets. His forthcoming book, Terra Incognita, co-authored with Ian Goldin, is due to be published by Penguin later in 2020.

University of Oxford provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

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With COVID-19 infections now evident in 176 countries , the pandemic is the most significant threat to humanity since the second world war. Then, as now, confidence in international cooperation and institutions plumbed new lows.

While the onset of the second world war took many people by surprise, the outbreak of the coronavirus in December 2019 was a crisis foretold. Infectious disease specialists have been raising the alarm about the accelerated pace of outbreaks for decades. Dengue, Ebola, SARS, H1N1, and Zika are just the tip of the iceberg. Since 1980, more than 12,000 documented outbreaks have infected and killed tens of millions of people around the world, many of them the poorest of the poor. In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) detected outbreaks of six of its eight “priority diseases” for the very first time.

No one can say we weren’t warned .

Even as we attend to the countless emergencies generated by COVID-19, we need to think deeply about why the international community was so unprepared for an outbreak that was so inevitable. This is hardly the first time we’ve faced global catastrophes.

The second world war reflected the catastrophic failure of leaders to learn the lessons of the 1914-1918 war. The creation of the United Nations and Bretton Woods institutions in the late 1940s and early 1950s provided some grounds for optimism, but these were overshadowed by the Cold War. Moreover, the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions of the 1980s rolled back the capacity of governments to address inequality through taxation and redistribution and governments’ ability to deliver health and essential services.

The capacity of international institutions to regulate globalisation was undermined precisely at a time when they were most needed. The 1980s, 1990s and 2000s were a period of rapidly rising cross-border movements of trade, finance and people. The accelerated flow of goods, services and skills is one of the principal reasons for the most rapid reduction of global poverty in history. Since the late 1990s, more than 2 billion people have climbed out of extreme poverty. Improved access to employment, nutrition, sanitation and public health, including vaccine availability, added over a decade in average life expectancy to the world’s population.

But international institutions failed to manage the downside risks generated by globalisation.

Far from empowering the United Nations, the world is governed by divided nations , who prefer to go it alone, starving the institutions designed to safeguard our future of the necessary resources and authority. The WHO shareholders, not its personnel, have failed dismally to ensure it can exercise its vital mandate to protect global health.

Butterfly defect

As the world becomes more connected, it also necessarily becomes more interdependent. This is the dark underbelly, the butterfly defect of globalisation, that if left unmanaged inevitably means that we will suffer escalating, increasingly dangerous systemic risks.

speech on world after covid 19

One of the most graphic demonstrations was the 2008 financial crisis. The economic meltdown reflected a dangerous negligence by public authorities and experts in managing the growing complexities of the global financial system. Not surprisingly, the carelessness of the world’s political and economic elite cost them dearly at the ballot box. Campaigning on an explicitly anti-globalisation and anti-expert ticket, populists stormed to power.

Emboldened by public outrage, they have followed an ancient tradition, blaming foreigners and turning their backs on the outside world. The US president, in particular , spurned scientific thinking, spawned fake news, and shunned traditional allies and international institutions.

With evidence of infections rising fast, most national politicians now recognise the traumatic human and economic costs of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control’s worst-case scenario is that about 160 million to 210 million Americans will be infected by December 2020. As many as 21 million will need hospitalisation and between 200,000 and 1.7 million people could die within a year. Harvard University researchers believe that 20% to 60% of the global population could be infected , and conservatively estimate that 14 million to 42 million people might lose their lives.

The extent to which direct and excess mortality is prevented depends on how quickly societies can reduce new infections, isolate the sick and mobilise health services, and on how long relapses can be prevented and contained. Without a vaccine, COVID-19 will be a hugely disruptive force for years.

Where the damage will be worst

The pandemic will be especially damaging to poorer and more vulnerable communities within many countries, highlighting the risks associated with rising inequality .

In the US, over 60% of the adult population suffers from a chronic disease. Around one in eight Americans live below the poverty line – more than three-quarters of them live from paycheque to paycheque and over 44 million people in the US have no health coverage at all.

The challenges are even more dramatic in Latin America, Africa and South Asia, where health systems are considerably weaker and governments less able to respond. These latent risks are compounded by the failure of leaders such as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil or Narendra Modi in India to take the issue seriously enough.

The economic fallout from COVID-19 will be dramatic everywhere. The severity of the impacts depends on how long the pandemic lasts, and the national and international response of governments. But even in the best case it will far exceed that of the 2008 economic crisis in its scale and global impact, leading to losses which could exceed $9 trillion , or well over 10% of global GDP.

In poor communities where many individuals share a single room and depend on going to work to put food on the table, the call for social isolation will be very difficult if not impossible to adhere to. Around the world, as individuals lose their incomes, we should expect rapidly rising homelessness and hunger.

speech on world after covid 19

In the US a record 3.3 million people have already filed for unemployment benefit, and across Europe unemployment similarly is reaching record levels. But whereas in the richer countries some safety net exists, even though it is too often in tatters, poor countries simply do not have the capacity to ensure that no-one dies of hunger.

With supply chains broken as factories close and workers are quarantined, and consumers prevented from travelling, shopping, other than for food, or engaging in social activities, there is no scope for a fiscal stimulus. Meanwhile monetary policy has been stymied as interest rates are already close to zero. Governments therefore should focus on providing all in need with a basic income , to ensure that no-one starves as a result of the crisis. While the concept of basic income guarantees seemed utopian only a month ago, it now needs to be at the centre of every government’s agenda.

A global Marshall plan

The sheer scale and ferocity of the pandemic demands bold proposals. Some European governments have announced packages of measures to keep their economies from grinding to a halt. In the UK, the government has agreed to cover 80% of wages and self-employed income, up to £2,500 ($2,915) per month , and is providing a lifeline to firms. In the US, a previously unthinkable aid package of $2 trillion has been agreed, though this is likely just the beginning. A gathering of G20 leaders also resulted in a pledge of $5 trillion , though details are slim.

The COVID-19 pandemic provides a turning point in national and global affairs. It demonstrates our interdependence and that when risks arise we turn to governments, not the private sector, to save us.

The unprecedented economic and medical response in the rich countries is simply not available to many developing countries. As a result the tragic implication is the consequences will be far more severe and long lasting in poorer countries. Progress in development and democracy in many African, Latin American and Asian societies will be reversed. Like climate and other risks, this global pandemic will dramatically worsen inequality within and between countries.

A global Marshall plan, with massive injections of funding, is urgently needed to sustain governments and societies.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the death knell of globalisation, as some commentators have suggested. While travel and trade are frozen during the pandemic, there will be a contraction or deglobalisation. In the longer term the continued growth in incomes in Asia, which is home to two-thirds of the world’s population, is likely to mean that travel, trade and financial flows will resume their upward trajectory.

But in terms of physical flows, 2019 will likely go down in history as the time of peak supply chain fragmentation. The pandemic will accelerate the reshoring of production, reinforcing a trend of bringing production closer to markets that was already under way. The growth of robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, together with customers expecting quick delivery of increasingly customised products, politicians eager to bring production home, and businesses seeking to minimise the price of machines, removes the comparative advantages of low-income countries.

speech on world after covid 19

It is not only manufacturing which is being automated, but also services such as call centres and administrative processes that now can be more cheaply done by computers in the basement of a headquarters than by people at distant locations. This poses profound questions about the future of work everywhere. It is a particular challenge for low income countries with a young population of work seekers. Africa alone expects 100 million workers to enter the labour market over the next 10 years. Their prospects were unclear before the pandemic struck. Now they are even more precarious.

Implications for political stability

At a time when faith in democracy is at its lowest point in decades , deteriorating economic conditions will have far-reaching implications for political and social stability. There is already a tremendous trust gap between leaders and citizens. Some political leaders are sending mixed signals and citizens are receiving conflicting messages. This reinforces their lack of trust in public authorities and “the experts”.

This lack of trust can make responding to the crisis much more difficult at the national level, and also has undermined the global response to the pandemic.

While making urgent calls for multilateral cooperation , the United Nations is still missing in action, having been sidelined by the major powers in recent years. Promising to inject billions – even trillions – into the response , the World Bank and International Monetary Fund will need to ramp up their activities to have a meaningful impact.

Owing to a shortage of international leadership from the US, cities, businesses and philanthropies are stepping up. China has gone from villain to hero in responding to the pandemic, partly by extending its soft power – in the form of doctors and equipment – to affected countries. Singaporean, South Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Italian, French and Spanish researchers are actively publishing and sharing their experience, including by fast-tracking research on what works.

So far, some of the most inspiring action is nongovernmental. For example, city networks such as the US Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities are rapidly sharing good practice on how to keep infectious diseases from spreading, which should improve local responses. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed $100 million to expanding local health capacities in Africa and South Asia. Groups like Wellcome Trust , Skoll , the Open Society Foundations , the UN Foundation , and Google.org are also scaling up assistance.

Needless to say, the complexities of globalisation will not be resolved by appeals to nationalism and closed borders. The spread of COVID-19 must be met with a similarly coordinated international effort to find vaccines, mobilise medical supplies and, when the volcanic dust settles, to ensure that we never again face what could be an even deadlier disease.

Now is not the time for recriminations: it is the time for action. National and city governments , businesses, and ordinary citizens around the world must do everything they can to flatten the epidemic curve immediately, following the examples set by Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Hangzhou and Taiwan.

Coalition of the willing must lead global response

Now more than ever, we need a comprehensive global response. The Group of Seven and G20 leading economies appear rudderless under their current leadership. While promising to ensure attention to the poorest countries and to refugees, their recent virtual meeting offered too little too late. But this cannot be allowed to stop others acting to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. In partnership with G20 nations, a creative coalition of willing countries should take urgent steps to restore confidence not just in the markets but in global institutions.

The European Union, China and other nations will have to step up and lead a global effort, dragging the US into a global response which includes accelerating vaccine trials and ensuring free distribution once a vaccine and antivirals are found. Governments around the world will also need to take dramatic action toward massive investments in health, sanitation and basic income.

speech on world after covid 19

Eventually, we will get over this crisis. But too many people will have died, the economy will be severely scarred, and the threat of pandemics will remain. The priority then must be not only recovery, but also establishing a robust multilateral mechanism for ensuring that a similar or even worse pandemic never again arises.

There is no wall high enough that will keep out the next pandemic, or indeed any of the other great threats to our future. But what these high walls will keep out is the technologies, people, finance and most of all the collective ideas and will to cooperate that we need to address pandemics, climate change, antibiotic resistance, terror and other global threats.

The world Before Coronavirus and After Coronavirus cannot be the same. We must avoid the mistakes made throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries by undertaking fundamental reforms to ensure that we never again face the threat of pandemics.

If we can work together within our countries to prioritise the needs of all our citizens, and internationally to overcome the divides that have allowed the threats of pandemics to fester, out of the terrible fire of this pandemic a new world order could be forged. By learning to cooperate we would not only have learnt to stop the next pandemic, but also to address climate change and other critical threats.

Now is the time to start building the necessary bridges at home and abroad.

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The Lasting Impacts of COVID-19

It's been four years since COVID-19 struck, transforming our modern world in ways we'd never seen before — and we're still processing the aftershocks. The pandemic exposed fault lines lurking beneath the surface of our everyday lives — friendships and bonds that weren't as strong as we thought; political rifts that turned into chasms; shifts in our fundamental beliefs of who we should trust, and what rules we should follow. It showed us how fragile we are — as human beings, and as a global community. Now, we find ourselves trying to pick up the pieces — to understand what happened, and what we can do better next time. On this episode, we explore the major changes caused by the pandemic, what we can learn from them, and how we can move forward. We hear stories about one man's dogged search for a treatment for his long COVID, how the pandemic both hurt and revived the field of public health, and how to repair relationships that became frayed or broken by the pressures of the pandemic.

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speech on world after covid 19

“Now is the time for unity”

About the author, antónio guterres.

António Guterres is the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, who took office on 1st January 2017.

The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in our lifetime. It is above all a human crisis with severe health and socio-economic consequences. 

The World Health Organization, with thousands of its staff, is on the front lines, supporting Member States and their societies, especially the most vulnerable among them, with guidance, training, equipment and concrete life-saving services as they fight the virus.  

The World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19.

I witnessed first-hand the courage and determination of WHO staff when I visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year, where WHO staff are working in precarious conditions and very dangerous remote locations as they fight the deadly Ebola virus. It has been a remarkable success for WHO that no new cases of Ebola have been registered in months. 

It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19.  

This virus is unprecedented in our lifetime and requires an unprecedented response. Obviously, in such conditions, it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities. Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis. The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future. 

But now is not that time. Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.   

David is speaking with colleagues

S7-Episode 2: Bringing Health to the World

“You see, we're not doing this work to make ourselves feel better. That sort of conventional notion of what a do-gooder is. We're doing this work because we are totally convinced that it's not necessary in today's wealthy world for so many people to be experiencing discomfort, for so many people to be experiencing hardship, for so many people to have their lives and their livelihoods imperiled.”

Dr. David Nabarro has dedicated his life to global health. After a long career that’s taken him from the horrors of war torn Iraq, to the devastating aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, he is still spurred to action by the tremendous inequalities in global access to medical care.

“The thing that keeps me awake most at night is the rampant inequities in our world…We see an awful lot of needless suffering.”

:: David Nabarro interviewed by Melissa Fleming

Ballet Manguinhos resumes performing after a COVID-19 hiatus with “Woman: Power and Resistance”. Photo courtesy Ana Silva/Ballet Manguinhos

Brazilian ballet pirouettes during pandemic

Ballet Manguinhos, named for its favela in Rio de Janeiro, returns to the stage after a long absence during the COVID-19 pandemic. It counts 250 children and teenagers from the favela as its performers. The ballet group provides social support in a community where poverty, hunger and teen pregnancy are constant issues.

Nazira Inoyatova is a radio host and the creative/programme director at Avtoradio FM 102.0 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Photo courtesy Azamat Abbasov

Radio journalist gives the facts on COVID-19 in Uzbekistan

The pandemic has put many people to the test, and journalists are no exception. Coronavirus has waged war not only against people's lives and well-being but has also spawned countless hoaxes and scientific falsehoods.

Greater Good Science Center • Magazine • In Action • In Education

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How life could get better (or worse) after covid, fifty-seven scientists make predictions about potential positive and negative consequences of the pandemic..

How do pandemics change our societies? It is tempting to believe that there will not be a single sector of society untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic . However, a quick look at previous pandemics in the 20th century reveals that such negative forecasts may be vastly exaggerated.

Prior pandemics have corresponded to changes in architecture and urban planning, and a greater awareness of public health . Yet the psychological and societal effects of the Spanish flu, the worst pandemic of the 20th century, were later perceived as less dramatic than anticipated, perhaps because it originated in the shadow of WWI. Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud described Spanish flu as a “ Nebenschauplatz ”—a sideshow in his life of that time, even though he eventually lost one of his daughters to the disease. Neither do we recall much more recent pandemics: the Asian flu of 1957 and the Hong Kong flu from 1968.

Imagining and planning for the future can be a powerful coping mechanism to gain some sense of control in an increasingly unpredictable pandemic life. Over the past year, some experts proclaimed that the world after COVID would be a completely different place , with changed values and a new map of international relations. The opinions of oracles who were not downplaying the virus were mostly negative . Societal unrest and the rise of totalitarian regimes, stunted child social development, mental health crises, exacerbated inequality, and the worst economic recession since the Great Depression were just a few worries discussed by pundits and on the news.

speech on world after covid 19

Other predictions were brighter—the disruptive force of the pandemic would provide an opportunity to reshape the world for the better, some said. To complement the voices of journalists, pundits, and policymakers, one of us (Igor Grossmann) embarked on a quest to gather opinions from the world’s leading scholars on behavioral and social science, founding the World after COVID project.

The World after COVID project is a multimedia collection of expert visions for the post-pandemic world, including scientists’ hopes, worries, and recommendations. In a series of 57 interviews, we invited scientists, along with futurists, to reflect on the positive and negative societal or psychological change that might occur after the pandemic, and the type of wisdom we need right now. Our team used a range of methodological techniques to quantify general sentiment, along with common and unique themes in scientists’ responses.

The results of this interview series were surprising, both in terms of the variability and ambivalence in expert predictions. Though the pandemic has and will continue to create adverse effects for many aspects of our society, the experts observed, there are also opportunities for positive change, if we are deliberate about learning from this experience.

Three opportunities after COVID-19

Scientists’ opinions about positive consequences were highly diverse. As the graph shows, we identified 20 distinct themes in their predictions. These predictions ranged from better care for elders, to improved critical thinking about misinformation, to greater appreciation of nature. But the three most common categories concerned social and societal issues.

bar graph showing the potential positive consequences of the pandemic

1. Solidarity. Experts predicted that the shared struggles and experiences that we face due to the pandemic could foster solidarity and bring us closer together, both within our communities and globally. As clinical psychologist Katie A. McLaughlin from Harvard University pointed out, the pandemic could be “an opportunity for us to become more committed to supporting and helping one another.”

Similarly, sociologist Monika Ardelt from the University of Florida noted the possibility that “we realize these kinds of global events can only be solved if we work together as a world community.” Social identities—such as group memberships, nationality, or those that form in response to significant events such as pandemics or natural disasters—play an important role in fostering collective action. The shared experience of the pandemic could help foster a more global, inclusive identity that could promote international solidarity.

2. Structural and political changes. Early in the pandemic, experts also believed that we might also see proactive efforts and societal will to bring about structural and political changes toward a more just and diversity-inclusive society. Experts observed that the pandemic had exposed inequalities and injustices in our societies and hoped that their visibility might encourage societies to address them.

Philosopher Valerie Tiberius from the University of Minnesota suggested that the pandemic might bring about an “increased awareness of our vulnerability and mutual dependence.”

Fellow of the Royal Institute for International Affairs in the U.K. Anand Menon proposed that the pandemic might lead to growing awareness of economic inequality, which could lead to “greater sustained public and political attention paid to that issue.” Cultural psychologist Ayse Uskul from Kent University in the U.K. shared this sentiment and predicted that this awareness “will motivate us to pick up a stronger fight against the unfair distribution of resources and rights not just where we live, but much more globally.”

3. Renewed social connections. Finally, the most common positive consequence discussed was that we might see an increased awareness of the importance of our social connections. The pandemic has limited our ability to connect face to face with friends and families, and it has highlighted just how vulnerable some of our family members and neighbors might be. Greater Good Science Center founding director and UC Berkeley professor Dacher Keltner suggested that the pandemic might teach us “how absolutely sacred our best relationships are” and that the value of these relationships would be much higher in the post-pandemic world. Past president of the Society of Evolution and Human Behavior Douglas Kenrick echoed this sentiment by predicting that “tighter family relationships would be the most positive outcome of this [pandemic].”

Similarly, Jennifer Lerner—professor of decision-making from Harvard University—discussed how the pandemic had led people to “learn who their neighbors are, even though they didn’t know their neighbors before, because we’ve discovered that we need them.” These kinds of social relationships have been tied to a range of benefits, such as increased well-being and health , and could provide lasting benefits to individuals.

Post-pandemic risks

How about predictions for negative consequences of the pandemic? Again, opinions were variable, with more than half of the themes were mentioned by less than 10% of our interviewees. Only two predictions were mentioned by at least ten experts: the potential for political unrest and increased prejudice or racism. These predictions highlight a tension in expert predictions: Whereas some scholars viewed the future bright and “diversity-inclusive,” others fear the rise in racism and prejudice. Before we discuss this tension, let us examine what exactly scholars meant by these two worries.

bar graph showing the potential negative consequences of the pandemic

1. Increased prejudice or racism. Many experts discussed how the conditions brought about by the pandemic could lead us to focus on our in-group and become more dismissive of those outside our circles. Incheol Choi, professor of cultural and positive psychology from Seoul National University, discussed that his main area of concern was that “stereotypes, prejudices against other group members might arise.” Lisa Feldman Barrett, fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada, echoed this sentiment, noting that previous epidemics saw “people become more entrenched in their in-group and out-group beliefs.”

2. Political unrest. Similarly, many experts discussed how a greater focus on our in-groups might also exacerbate existing political divisions. Past president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology Paul Bloom discussed how a greater dismissiveness toward out-groups was visible both within countries and internationally, where “countries are blaming other countries and not working together enough.” Dilip Jeste, past president of the American Psychiatric Association, discussed his concerns that the tendency to view both candidates and supporters as winners and losers in elections could mean that the “political polarization that we are observing today in the U.S. and the world will only increase.”

These predictions were not surprising— pundits and other public figures have been discussing these topics, too. However, as we analyzed and compared predictions for positive and negative consequences, we found something unexpected.

The yin and yang of COVID’s effects

Almost half of the interviewees spontaneously mentioned that the same change could be a force for good and for bad . In other words, they were dialectical , recognizing the multidetermined nature of predictions and acknowledging that context matters—context that determines who may be the winners and losers in the years to come. For example, experts predicted that we may see greater acceptance of digital technologies at home and at work. But besides the benefits of this—flexible work schedules, reduced commutes—they also mentioned likely costs, such as missing social information in virtual communication and disadvantages for people who cannot afford high-speed internet or digital devices.

Share Your Perspective

Curious about the world after COVID? So are we, and we'd love your opinion about possible changes ahead. Fill out this short survey to offer your perspective on the hopes and worries of a post-pandemic world.

Amid this complexity, experts weighed in on what type of wisdom we need to help bring about more positive changes ahead. Not only do we need the will to sustain political and structural change, many argued, but also a certain set of psychological strategies promoting sound judgment: perspective taking, critical thinking, recognizing the limits of our knowledge, and sympathy and compassion.

In other words, experts’ recommended wisdom focuses on meta-cognition, which underlies successful emotion regulation, mindfulness, and wiser judgment about complex social issues. The good news is that these psychological strategies are malleable and trainable ; one way we can cultivate wisdom and perspective, for example, is by adopting a third-person, observer perspective on our challenges.

On the surface, the “it depends” attitude of many experts about the world after COVID may be dissatisfying. However, as research on forecasting shows, such a dialectical attitude is exactly what distinguishes more accurate forecasters from the rest of the population. Forecasting is hard and predictions are often uncertain and likely wrong. In fact, despite some hopes for the future, it is equally possible that the change after the pandemic will not even be noticeable. Not because changes will not happen, but because people quickly adjust to their immediate circumstances.

The future will tell whether and how the current pandemic has altered our societies. In the meantime, the World after COVID project provides a time-stamped window into experts’ apartments and their minds. As we embrace another pandemic spring, these insights can serve as a reminder that the pandemic may lead not only to worries but also to hopes for the years ahead.

About the Authors

Igor Grossmann

Igor Grossmann

Igor Grossmann, Ph.D. , studies people and cultures, sometimes together, and often across time. He is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo, where he directs the Wisdom and Culture Lab.

Oliver Twardus

Oliver Twardus

Oliver Twardus is the lab manager for the Wisdom and Culture lab and an aspiring researcher. He will be starting his master’s in neuroscience and applied cognitive science in September 2021.

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The Way Ahead: Life After COVID-19

Mouaz h. al-mallah.

1 Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, Houston, TX, US

Much has changed in the 2 years since the start of the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic. The need for social distancing catalyzed the digitization of healthcare delivery and medical education—from telemedicine and virtual conferences to online residency/fellowship interviews. Vaccine development, particularly in the field of mRNA technology, led to widespread availability of safe and effective vaccines. With improved survival from acute infection, the healthcare system is dealing with the ever-growing cohort of patients with lingering symptoms. In addition, social media platforms have fueled a plethora of misinformation campaigns that have adversely affected prevention and control measures. In this review, we examine how COVID-19 has reshaped the healthcare system, and gauge its potential effects on life after the pandemic.


In December 2021, after many months of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is still looking for a way out of this healthcare crisis. As of this writing, more than 250 million people globally have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), and nearly 5 million individuals lost their lives battling the complications of severe acute respiratory syndromes. 1 Many communities experienced multiple surges of the virus, with changes in normal life and restrictions to daily activities. The intensification of vaccination efforts brought about hope for a possible end to the pandemic. However, the continued emergence of variant strains and vaccine hesitancy have been persistent challenges in the US and globally. In this article, we review the long-term effect of COVID-19 on healthcare systems and envision the future of life after the pandemic ( Figure 1 ).

The long-term effects of the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19)

The long-term effects of the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic on the healthcare system.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been accelerated efforts to sequence the genetic material of the virus and build effective vaccines that decrease the risk of infection, hospitalization, and mortality. 2 At the time of this writing, more than 10 vaccines have been approved by local healthcare authorities in different parts of the world. 3 The pandemic has also driven innovation in the novel field of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine and given emergency use authorization to Moderna. 4 The mRNA vaccines have shown excellent efficacy against many of the strains, including the beta and delta strains.

More recently, booster doses have been approved by the FDA for individuals aged 65 years and older as well as individuals with comorbidities, in long-term care facilities, or at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission due to occupational or institutional settings. 5 Furthermore, the FDA has also given emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in individuals aged 12 to 17 years and, as of October 29, in children aged 5 to 11 years.

Although the fast-tracked vaccine production time led some skeptics to hypothesize safety concerns, the rate of adverse events has been very low. One complication that gained significant attention is myocarditis. 6 , 7 , 8 Emerging data have shown that young men are the most commonly affected demographic. Furthermore, the risk was elevated in the setting of a recent COVID-19 illness and after the second dose of the vaccine. 6 , 7 Although the rate of myocarditis is low and the majority of patients recover, the risk of recurrence in patients who developed myocarditis with the first dose or in patients with recent myocarditis is unclear. Similarly, the rate of recurrence after the second or booster doses also is unclear.

Vaccine Mandates

Multiple state and federal governments have issued vaccine mandates, and they have become a highly contested political issue in the United States. The Biden administration issued an executive order on September 9, 2021, requiring all federal employees to vaccinate. 9 Some state and local governments have also followed. 10

Multiple US healthcare systems have also issued COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees. On March 31, 2021, Houston Methodist became the first healthcare system to mandate the vaccine for employees, and a wave of other healthcare systems followed suit. 11 As of this writing, more than 2,500 hospitals or health systems have followed Houston Methodist and mandated vaccines for their clinical and nonclinical staff. 12

Combating Misinformation

Since the beginning of the pandemic, misinformation has spread throughout the Internet and on social media platforms. 13 People have questioned the existence of the virus, the strain on healthcare systems, and the benefit of masks as well as emphasized the benefits of unproven therapies, many of which were useless and even harmful. 14 Political agendas have also played into the misinformation campaigns. Studies have shown that these misinformation campaigns have had measurable effects on the intent to vaccinate and created widespread fear and panic, ultimately contributing to the reduced number of people willing to vaccinate. 13 , 15 , 16 Tackling this will require concerted efforts by the government and private sector, particularly social media companies, to implement evidence-based communication strategies. 17 Individuals should also assume responsibility in seeking out accurate, evidence-based information for their own consumption.


As many states and cities implemented measures to reduce transmission, telehealth emerged as the ideal tool to continue patient care while protecting the health of both patients and providers. Many patients preferred this option, especially when hospitals were dealing with record numbers of COVID-19 infections. In 2020, telemedicine was the main means by which ambulatory care was provided, accounting for 10% to 20% of visits when virus transmissibility was low and as high as 80% of visits during the surges. 18

Accordingly, the US Department of Health and Human Services relaxed enforcement of software-based Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act violations, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services provided waivers for telehealth reimbursements, and, in many instances, commercial insurances provided the same either directly or through mandates provided by local state governments. 19 , 20 The removal of regulatory and reimbursement barriers led to a dramatic increase in the use of telehealth, with some institutions reporting multifold increase in telehealth visits. 21

The pandemic also served as a catalyst for innovation in the software and hardware necessary for telemedicine. 22 For example, important tools were developed to enable secure connections with physicians and allow remote vital sign and weight monitoring. 23 , 24 Unfortunately, not all have equally benefitted from the expanded use of telehealth. Data indicate that minorities and disadvantaged groups often lack access to telehealth-based care. 25 Although the positive response and uptake by physicians and patients indicates the likelihood of telemedicine continuing past the pandemic, it remains to be seen whether the regulatory and reimbursement aspects will continue.

Post Covid-19 Condition

There is a growing body of evidence that some patients have prolonged recovery and/or residual symptoms after acute infection with COVID-19. The World Health Organization has defined this as “post COVID-19 condition.” Common presentation includes shortness of breath, palpitation, anxiety, and depression lingering for several months after acute infection. 26 , 27 Recent data also suggests that post COVID-19 condition might not be limited to somatic symptoms, with studies showing a 7-fold increased risk of developing depression and mental health issues. 28

Although the cause of these symptoms is not clear, one possible link that partly explains the prolonged shortness of breath experienced by some patients is COVID-19–associated myocarditis and the associated microvascular dysfunction. 26 As the pandemic continues and therapeutics improve survival from acute infection, the number of patients reporting post COVID-19 condition is predicted to grow. Several medical centers have already established clinics to better coordinate care and conduct research on the long-term impact and treatment of COVID-19. 29

Collateral Damage

Many patients delayed regular and preventive care during the pandemic due to fear of contracting COVID-19. 30 , 31 Such change in health-seeking behavior also extended to emergency conditions, with studies showing how some patients did not seek care for new onset chest pain. 32 Indirect indicators of this are the reduced rates of cardiovascular testing globally and within the United States 33 , 34 and the increased rate of myocardial infarctions and other emergencies seen on the trailing end of COVID-19–infection surges. 32 There has also been an increase in late complications of myocardial infarction such as ventricular septal rupture, a rare occurrence in the prepandemic reperfusion era and one partly explained by delayed care and ignored early warning signs. 35

Disparities in Healthcare

The pandemic exposed significant disparities in healthcare delivery, particularly among minorities. They were more likely to be affected by misinformation campaigns and less likely to accept research supporting clinical therapies and vaccines. Understanding the disparities and identifying measures to bridge the gap will be an important area of research for policy.

Globally, the pandemic also exposed significant inequities regarding vaccine access. While many developed countries were able to reach vaccination rates as high as 70%, rates in low-to-middle-income countries have remained low. 35 As the delta variant has clearly shown, no one is safe until everyone is safe. To this end, the World Health Organization and the COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access) alliance have been a vital source of affordable vaccines. 36

Changes to Medical Education

The pandemic resulted in significant changes to both graduate and continued medical education. Much like patient-physician encounters, postgraduate training programs limited large face-to-face gatherings and transitioned all teaching to online platforms. 37 Residency and fellowship recruitment interviews also shifted to online settings. Lastly, there has been an exponential increase in the number of continued medical education offerings, with many societal meetings and conferences transitioning to online or hybrid formats. 38

The medical community has, for the most part, been very receptive to these changes, and it has afforded unforeseen advantages to trainees. Residency and fellowship applicants no longer need to bear the logistic and financial burden of in-person interviews. More importantly, virtual meetings and conferences have significantly increased audiences and, by extension, enabled the wider dissemination of medical knowledge.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed clinical practice, medical education, and research. Beyond the immediate increase in morbidity and mortality, the healthcare system is having to deal with a growing cohort of patients with lingering symptoms. Misinformation, vaccine hesitancy, and vaccine inequity will be continuing challenges to attaining herd immunity. Clinicians, educators, and healthcare administrators will also have to determine how best to leverage the transition to virtual platforms. Lastly, healthcare leaders and policy makers will have to help the country and world chart a course through the end of the pandemic.

  • The coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic has dramatically changed clinical practice, medical education, and research.
  • It has brought about new challenges for the healthcare system, such as how best to combat misinformation, address the disproportionate impact on minorities and marginalized groups, and treat the ever-growing population of patients with lingering “long COVID” symptoms.
  • The pandemic has also catalyzed much needed change in vaccine development, telemedicine, and medical education.
  • Addressing these challenges and charting a way forward will require the concerted effort of clinicians, healthcare leaders, and policy makers.

Competing Interests

Dr. Al-Mallah has completed and submitted the Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal Conflict of Interest Statement and none were reported.

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Plan, Prepare & Make the Best Career Choices

2 Minute Speech on Covid-19 (CoronaVirus) for Students

The year, 2019, saw the discovery of a previously unknown coronavirus illness, Covid-19 . The Coronavirus has affected the way we go about our everyday lives. This pandemic has devastated millions of people, either unwell or passed away due to the sickness. The most common symptoms of this viral illness include a high temperature, a cough, bone pain, and difficulties with the respiratory system. In addition to these symptoms, patients infected with the coronavirus may also feel weariness, a sore throat, muscular discomfort, and a loss of taste or smell.

2 Minute Speech on Covid-19 (CoronaVirus) for Students

10 Lines Speech on Covid-19 for Students

The Coronavirus is a member of a family of viruses that may infect their hosts exceptionally quickly.

Humans created the Coronavirus in the city of Wuhan in China, where it first appeared.

The first confirmed case of the Coronavirus was found in India in January in the year 2020.

Protecting ourselves against the coronavirus is essential by covering our mouths and noses when we cough or sneeze to prevent the infection from spreading.

We must constantly wash our hands with antibacterial soap and face masks to protect ourselves.

To ensure our safety, the government has ordered the whole nation's closure to halt the virus's spread.

The Coronavirus forced all our classes to be taken online, as schools and institutions were shut down.

Due to the coronavirus, everyone was instructed to stay indoors throughout the lockdown.

During this period, I spent a lot of time playing games with family members.

Even though the cases of COVID-19 are a lot less now, we should still take precautions.

Short 2-Minute Speech on Covid 19 for Students

The coronavirus, also known as Covid - 19 , causes a severe illness. Those who are exposed to it become sick in their lungs. A brand-new virus is having a devastating effect throughout the globe. It's being passed from person to person via social interaction.

The first instance of Covid - 19 was discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China . The World Health Organization proclaimed the covid - 19 pandemic in March 2020. It has now reached every country in the globe. Droplets produced by an infected person's cough or sneeze might infect those nearby.

The severity of Covid-19 symptoms varies widely. Symptoms aren't always present. The typical symptoms are high temperatures, a dry cough, and difficulty breathing. Covid - 19 individuals also exhibit other symptoms such as weakness, a sore throat, muscular soreness, and a diminished sense of smell and taste.

Vaccination has been produced by many countries but the effectiveness of them is different for every individual. The only treatment then is to avoid contracting in the first place. We can accomplish that by following these protocols—

Put on a mask to hide your face. Use soap and hand sanitiser often to keep germs at bay.

Keep a distance of 5 to 6 feet at all times.

Never put your fingers in your mouth or nose.

Long 2-Minute Speech on Covid 19 for Students

As students, it's important for us to understand the gravity of the situation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact it has on our communities and the world at large. In this speech, I will discuss the real-world examples of the effects of the pandemic and its impact on various aspects of our lives.

Impact on Economy | The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the global economy. We have seen how businesses have been forced to close their doors, leading to widespread job loss and economic hardship. Many individuals and families have been struggling to make ends meet, and this has led to a rise in poverty and inequality.

Impact on Healthcare Systems | The pandemic has also put a strain on healthcare systems around the world. Hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients, and healthcare workers have been stretched to their limits. This has highlighted the importance of investing in healthcare systems and ensuring that they are prepared for future crises.

Impact on Education | The pandemic has also affected the education system, with schools and universities being closed around the world. This has led to a shift towards online learning and the use of technology to continue education remotely. However, it has also highlighted the digital divide, with many students from low-income backgrounds facing difficulties in accessing online learning.

Impact on Mental Health | The pandemic has not only affected our physical health but also our mental health. We have seen how the isolation and uncertainty caused by the pandemic have led to an increase in stress, anxiety, and depression. It's important that we take care of our mental health and support each other during this difficult time.

Real-life Story of a Student

John is a high school student who was determined to succeed despite the struggles brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

John's school closed down in the early days of the pandemic, and he quickly found himself struggling to adjust to online learning. Without the structure and support of in-person classes, John found it difficult to stay focused and motivated. He also faced challenges at home, as his parents were both essential workers and were often not available to help him with his schoolwork.

Despite these struggles, John refused to let the pandemic defeat him. He made a schedule for himself, to stay on top of his assignments and set goals for himself. He also reached out to his teachers for additional support, and they were more than happy to help.

John also found ways to stay connected with his classmates and friends, even though they were physically apart. They formed a study group and would meet regularly over Zoom to discuss their assignments and provide each other with support.

Thanks to his hard work and determination, John was able to maintain good grades and even improved in some subjects. He graduated high school on time, and was even accepted into his first-choice college.

John's story is a testament to the resilience and determination of students everywhere. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, he was able to succeed and achieve his goals. He shows us that with hard work, determination, and support, we can overcome even the toughest of obstacles.

Explore Career Options (By Industry)

  • Construction
  • Entertainment
  • Manufacturing
  • Information Technology

Bio Medical Engineer

The field of biomedical engineering opens up a universe of expert chances. An Individual in the biomedical engineering career path work in the field of engineering as well as medicine, in order to find out solutions to common problems of the two fields. The biomedical engineering job opportunities are to collaborate with doctors and researchers to develop medical systems, equipment, or devices that can solve clinical problems. Here we will be discussing jobs after biomedical engineering, how to get a job in biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering scope, and salary. 

Data Administrator

Database professionals use software to store and organise data such as financial information, and customer shipping records. Individuals who opt for a career as data administrators ensure that data is available for users and secured from unauthorised sales. DB administrators may work in various types of industries. It may involve computer systems design, service firms, insurance companies, banks and hospitals.

Ethical Hacker

A career as ethical hacker involves various challenges and provides lucrative opportunities in the digital era where every giant business and startup owns its cyberspace on the world wide web. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path try to find the vulnerabilities in the cyber system to get its authority. If he or she succeeds in it then he or she gets its illegal authority. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path then steal information or delete the file that could affect the business, functioning, or services of the organization.

Data Analyst

The invention of the database has given fresh breath to the people involved in the data analytics career path. Analysis refers to splitting up a whole into its individual components for individual analysis. Data analysis is a method through which raw data are processed and transformed into information that would be beneficial for user strategic thinking.

Data are collected and examined to respond to questions, evaluate hypotheses or contradict theories. It is a tool for analyzing, transforming, modeling, and arranging data with useful knowledge, to assist in decision-making and methods, encompassing various strategies, and is used in different fields of business, research, and social science.

Geothermal Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as geothermal engineers are the professionals involved in the processing of geothermal energy. The responsibilities of geothermal engineers may vary depending on the workplace location. Those who work in fields design facilities to process and distribute geothermal energy. They oversee the functioning of machinery used in the field.

Remote Sensing Technician

Individuals who opt for a career as a remote sensing technician possess unique personalities. Remote sensing analysts seem to be rational human beings, they are strong, independent, persistent, sincere, realistic and resourceful. Some of them are analytical as well, which means they are intelligent, introspective and inquisitive. 

Remote sensing scientists use remote sensing technology to support scientists in fields such as community planning, flight planning or the management of natural resources. Analysing data collected from aircraft, satellites or ground-based platforms using statistical analysis software, image analysis software or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a significant part of their work. Do you want to learn how to become remote sensing technician? There's no need to be concerned; we've devised a simple remote sensing technician career path for you. Scroll through the pages and read.

Geotechnical engineer

The role of geotechnical engineer starts with reviewing the projects needed to define the required material properties. The work responsibilities are followed by a site investigation of rock, soil, fault distribution and bedrock properties on and below an area of interest. The investigation is aimed to improve the ground engineering design and determine their engineering properties that include how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. 

The role of geotechnical engineer in mining includes designing and determining the type of foundations, earthworks, and or pavement subgrades required for the intended man-made structures to be made. Geotechnical engineering jobs are involved in earthen and concrete dam construction projects, working under a range of normal and extreme loading conditions. 


How fascinating it is to represent the whole world on just a piece of paper or a sphere. With the help of maps, we are able to represent the real world on a much smaller scale. Individuals who opt for a career as a cartographer are those who make maps. But, cartography is not just limited to maps, it is about a mixture of art , science , and technology. As a cartographer, not only you will create maps but use various geodetic surveys and remote sensing systems to measure, analyse, and create different maps for political, cultural or educational purposes.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysis, in a nutshell, entails thoroughly analyzing the details of a financial budget. The budget analysis aims to better understand and manage revenue. Budget analysts assist in the achievement of financial targets, the preservation of profitability, and the pursuit of long-term growth for a business. Budget analysts generally have a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, or a closely related field. Knowledge of Financial Management is of prime importance in this career.

Product Manager

A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  

Investment Banker

An Investment Banking career involves the invention and generation of capital for other organizations, governments, and other entities. Individuals who opt for a career as Investment Bankers are the head of a team dedicated to raising capital by issuing bonds. Investment bankers are termed as the experts who have their fingers on the pulse of the current financial and investing climate. Students can pursue various Investment Banker courses, such as Banking and Insurance , and  Economics to opt for an Investment Banking career path.


An underwriter is a person who assesses and evaluates the risk of insurance in his or her field like mortgage, loan, health policy, investment, and so on and so forth. The underwriter career path does involve risks as analysing the risks means finding out if there is a way for the insurance underwriter jobs to recover the money from its clients. If the risk turns out to be too much for the company then in the future it is an underwriter who will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one must carry out his or her job with a lot of attention and diligence.

Finance Executive

Operations manager.

Individuals in the operations manager jobs are responsible for ensuring the efficiency of each department to acquire its optimal goal. They plan the use of resources and distribution of materials. The operations manager's job description includes managing budgets, negotiating contracts, and performing administrative tasks.

Bank Probationary Officer (PO)

Welding engineer.

Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues. 

Transportation Planner

A career as Transportation Planner requires technical application of science and technology in engineering, particularly the concepts, equipment and technologies involved in the production of products and services. In fields like land use, infrastructure review, ecological standards and street design, he or she considers issues of health, environment and performance. A Transportation Planner assigns resources for implementing and designing programmes. He or she is responsible for assessing needs, preparing plans and forecasts and compliance with regulations.

An expert in plumbing is aware of building regulations and safety standards and works to make sure these standards are upheld. Testing pipes for leakage using air pressure and other gauges, and also the ability to construct new pipe systems by cutting, fitting, measuring and threading pipes are some of the other more involved aspects of plumbing. Individuals in the plumber career path are self-employed or work for a small business employing less than ten people, though some might find working for larger entities or the government more desirable.

Construction Manager

Individuals who opt for a career as construction managers have a senior-level management role offered in construction firms. Responsibilities in the construction management career path are assigning tasks to workers, inspecting their work, and coordinating with other professionals including architects, subcontractors, and building services engineers.

Urban Planner

Urban Planning careers revolve around the idea of developing a plan to use the land optimally, without affecting the environment. Urban planning jobs are offered to those candidates who are skilled in making the right use of land to distribute the growing population, to create various communities. 

Urban planning careers come with the opportunity to make changes to the existing cities and towns. They identify various community needs and make short and long-term plans accordingly.

Highway Engineer

Highway Engineer Job Description:  A Highway Engineer is a civil engineer who specialises in planning and building thousands of miles of roads that support connectivity and allow transportation across the country. He or she ensures that traffic management schemes are effectively planned concerning economic sustainability and successful implementation.

Environmental Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as an environmental engineer are construction professionals who utilise the skills and knowledge of biology, soil science, chemistry and the concept of engineering to design and develop projects that serve as solutions to various environmental problems. 

Naval Architect

A Naval Architect is a professional who designs, produces and repairs safe and sea-worthy surfaces or underwater structures. A Naval Architect stays involved in creating and designing ships, ferries, submarines and yachts with implementation of various principles such as gravity, ideal hull form, buoyancy and stability. 

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and Prosthetists are professionals who provide aid to patients with disabilities. They fix them to artificial limbs (prosthetics) and help them to regain stability. There are times when people lose their limbs in an accident. In some other occasions, they are born without a limb or orthopaedic impairment. Orthotists and prosthetists play a crucial role in their lives with fixing them to assistive devices and provide mobility.

Veterinary Doctor


A career in pathology in India is filled with several responsibilities as it is a medical branch and affects human lives. The demand for pathologists has been increasing over the past few years as people are getting more aware of different diseases. Not only that, but an increase in population and lifestyle changes have also contributed to the increase in a pathologist’s demand. The pathology careers provide an extremely huge number of opportunities and if you want to be a part of the medical field you can consider being a pathologist. If you want to know more about a career in pathology in India then continue reading this article.

Speech Therapist


Gynaecology can be defined as the study of the female body. The job outlook for gynaecology is excellent since there is evergreen demand for one because of their responsibility of dealing with not only women’s health but also fertility and pregnancy issues. Although most women prefer to have a women obstetrician gynaecologist as their doctor, men also explore a career as a gynaecologist and there are ample amounts of male doctors in the field who are gynaecologists and aid women during delivery and childbirth. 

An oncologist is a specialised doctor responsible for providing medical care to patients diagnosed with cancer. He or she uses several therapies to control the cancer and its effect on the human body such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and biopsy. An oncologist designs a treatment plan based on a pathology report after diagnosing the type of cancer and where it is spreading inside the body.


The audiologist career involves audiology professionals who are responsible to treat hearing loss and proactively preventing the relevant damage. Individuals who opt for a career as an audiologist use various testing strategies with the aim to determine if someone has a normal sensitivity to sounds or not. After the identification of hearing loss, a hearing doctor is required to determine which sections of the hearing are affected, to what extent they are affected, and where the wound causing the hearing loss is found. As soon as the hearing loss is identified, the patients are provided with recommendations for interventions and rehabilitation such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and appropriate medical referrals. While audiology is a branch of science that studies and researches hearing, balance, and related disorders.

Hospital Administrator

The hospital Administrator is in charge of organising and supervising the daily operations of medical services and facilities. This organising includes managing of organisation’s staff and its members in service, budgets, service reports, departmental reporting and taking reminders of patient care and services.

For an individual who opts for a career as an actor, the primary responsibility is to completely speak to the character he or she is playing and to persuade the crowd that the character is genuine by connecting with them and bringing them into the story. This applies to significant roles and littler parts, as all roles join to make an effective creation. Here in this article, we will discuss how to become an actor in India, actor exams, actor salary in India, and actor jobs. 

Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats create and direct original routines for themselves, in addition to developing interpretations of existing routines. The work of circus acrobats can be seen in a variety of performance settings, including circus, reality shows, sports events like the Olympics, movies and commercials. Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats must be prepared to face rejections and intermittent periods of work. The creativity of acrobats may extend to other aspects of the performance. For example, acrobats in the circus may work with gym trainers, celebrities or collaborate with other professionals to enhance such performance elements as costume and or maybe at the teaching end of the career.

Video Game Designer

Career as a video game designer is filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. A video game designer is someone who is involved in the process of creating a game from day one. He or she is responsible for fulfilling duties like designing the character of the game, the several levels involved, plot, art and similar other elements. Individuals who opt for a career as a video game designer may also write the codes for the game using different programming languages.

Depending on the video game designer job description and experience they may also have to lead a team and do the early testing of the game in order to suggest changes and find loopholes.

Radio Jockey

Radio Jockey is an exciting, promising career and a great challenge for music lovers. If you are really interested in a career as radio jockey, then it is very important for an RJ to have an automatic, fun, and friendly personality. If you want to get a job done in this field, a strong command of the language and a good voice are always good things. Apart from this, in order to be a good radio jockey, you will also listen to good radio jockeys so that you can understand their style and later make your own by practicing.

A career as radio jockey has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. If you want to know more about a career as radio jockey, and how to become a radio jockey then continue reading the article.


The word “choreography" actually comes from Greek words that mean “dance writing." Individuals who opt for a career as a choreographer create and direct original dances, in addition to developing interpretations of existing dances. A Choreographer dances and utilises his or her creativity in other aspects of dance performance. For example, he or she may work with the music director to select music or collaborate with other famous choreographers to enhance such performance elements as lighting, costume and set design.


Multimedia specialist.

A multimedia specialist is a media professional who creates, audio, videos, graphic image files, computer animations for multimedia applications. He or she is responsible for planning, producing, and maintaining websites and applications. 

Social Media Manager

A career as social media manager involves implementing the company’s or brand’s marketing plan across all social media channels. Social media managers help in building or improving a brand’s or a company’s website traffic, build brand awareness, create and implement marketing and brand strategy. Social media managers are key to important social communication as well.

Copy Writer

In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism , Advertising , Marketing Management . Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook. 

Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.

For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.

In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. 

Ever since internet costs got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, a career as a vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the Vlogger eligibility, roles and responsibilities then continue reading the article. 

Individuals in the editor career path is an unsung hero of the news industry who polishes the language of the news stories provided by stringers, reporters, copywriters and content writers and also news agencies. Individuals who opt for a career as an editor make it more persuasive, concise and clear for readers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the editor's career path such as how to become an editor in India, editor salary in India and editor skills and qualities.

Linguistic meaning is related to language or Linguistics which is the study of languages. A career as a linguistic meaning, a profession that is based on the scientific study of language, and it's a very broad field with many specialities. Famous linguists work in academia, researching and teaching different areas of language, such as phonetics (sounds), syntax (word order) and semantics (meaning). 

Other researchers focus on specialities like computational linguistics, which seeks to better match human and computer language capacities, or applied linguistics, which is concerned with improving language education. Still, others work as language experts for the government, advertising companies, dictionary publishers and various other private enterprises. Some might work from home as freelance linguists. Philologist, phonologist, and dialectician are some of Linguist synonym. Linguists can study French , German , Italian . 

Public Relation Executive

Travel journalist.

The career of a travel journalist is full of passion, excitement and responsibility. Journalism as a career could be challenging at times, but if you're someone who has been genuinely enthusiastic about all this, then it is the best decision for you. Travel journalism jobs are all about insightful, artfully written, informative narratives designed to cover the travel industry. Travel Journalist is someone who explores, gathers and presents information as a news article.

Quality Controller

A quality controller plays a crucial role in an organisation. He or she is responsible for performing quality checks on manufactured products. He or she identifies the defects in a product and rejects the product. 

A quality controller records detailed information about products with defects and sends it to the supervisor or plant manager to take necessary actions to improve the production process.

Production Manager


A QA Lead is in charge of the QA Team. The role of QA Lead comes with the responsibility of assessing services and products in order to determine that he or she meets the quality standards. He or she develops, implements and manages test plans. 

Metallurgical Engineer

A metallurgical engineer is a professional who studies and produces materials that bring power to our world. He or she extracts metals from ores and rocks and transforms them into alloys, high-purity metals and other materials used in developing infrastructure, transportation and healthcare equipment. 

Azure Administrator

An Azure Administrator is a professional responsible for implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Azure Solutions. He or she manages cloud infrastructure service instances and various cloud servers as well as sets up public and private cloud systems. 

AWS Solution Architect

An AWS Solution Architect is someone who specializes in developing and implementing cloud computing systems. He or she has a good understanding of the various aspects of cloud computing and can confidently deploy and manage their systems. He or she troubleshoots the issues and evaluates the risk from the third party. 

Computer Programmer

Careers in computer programming primarily refer to the systematic act of writing code and moreover include wider computer science areas. The word 'programmer' or 'coder' has entered into practice with the growing number of newly self-taught tech enthusiasts. Computer programming careers involve the use of designs created by software developers and engineers and transforming them into commands that can be implemented by computers. These commands result in regular usage of social media sites, word-processing applications and browsers.

ITSM Manager

Information security manager.

Individuals in the information security manager career path involves in overseeing and controlling all aspects of computer security. The IT security manager job description includes planning and carrying out security measures to protect the business data and information from corruption, theft, unauthorised access, and deliberate attack 

Business Intelligence Developer

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Long COVID: The impact on language and communication

Louise cummings.

speech on world after covid 19

As we take stock nationally of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and economy of the UK, we would do well to think about the many people who have not made a good recovery from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The World Health Organization (2021) defines the “post COVID-19 condition” (or Long COVID) as the persistence of COVID symptoms, or development of new symptoms, 3 months from the onset of COVID-19. Long COVID has a high prevalence in the general population. The Office of National Statistics (2022) estimated that there were 1.5 million people in the UK (2.4% of the population) experiencing self-reported Long COVID symptoms as of 31 January 2022. Symptoms are wide-ranging and include breathlessness, heart palpitations, gastrointestinal problems, tinnitus and disturbances of taste and smell, among others.

One group of symptoms, referred to as “brain fog”, describes a constellation of cognitive and linguistic difficulties that are experienced by many people with Long COVID. Davis et al. (2021) recorded cognitive symptoms, including problems with memory, in approximately 88% of adults of all ages in a study of 3,762 people with COVID illness lasting over 28 days. Symptoms of brain fog often only became apparent when physical symptoms begin to improve and adults with Long COVID attempt to resume work duties and other roles. Brain fog in Long COVID is of relevance to speech and language therapists because it often manifests itself in language and communication difficulties.

In early 2022, the author conducted a survey of 973 adults with Long COVID to examine the prevalence of self-reported communication difficulties in this condition and to assess the impact of these difficulties on daily functioning and quality of life. Of 11 language difficulties investigated, all but two were reported to be problematic by over 50% of survey respondents (Cummings, 2022). The most common language problem was word-finding difficulty which was reported by 93.1% of respondents. Respondents also reported finding reading difficult (61.7%), mixing words up and producing incorrect words (72.4%), and veering off topic in conversation and being unable to get back on track (50.8%). Additionally, 83.2% of respondents reported feeling frustrated by their communication skills since developing COVID-19, and 54.9% reported feeling embarrassed by their communication problems. The occupational impact of these communication difficulties was considerable, with only 22.8% of respondents stating that they met the communication needs of their job following COVID-19. As confirmation of that impact, only 2.4% of respondents were not working due to disability before developing COVID-19. This increased to 32.5% after COVID-19.

These self-reported communication problems are confirmed by the results of language assessment in adults with Long COVID (Cummings, 2022). To date, the author has recorded 102 adults with COVID-19 as they completed a series of 12 tasks: (1) immediate verbal recall; (2) delayed verbal recall; (3) picture description; (4) sentence generation; (5) letter fluency; (6) category fluency-animals; (7) category fluency-vegetables; (8) narration with pictorial support; (9) narration without pictorial support; (10) procedural discourse-sandwich making; (11) procedural discourse-letter writing; and (12) confrontation naming. Adults with Long COVID displayed significant cognitive-linguistic disruption relative to healthy participants in three areas: immediate and delayed verbal recall; verbal fluency; and discourse informativeness. What is striking about these difficulties is their persistence after acute COVID-19 infection. The average time between assessment and onset of COVID-19 symptoms in these adults was 366.7 days or 12.2 months. It seems that cognitive-linguistic difficulties in Long COVID can have a particularly protracted course.

Difficulty producing informative discourse during picture description and narration did not arise because of deficits in language encoding. Adults with Long COVID had the grammatical and lexical structures needed to produce linguistic utterances – performance on sentence generation and confrontation naming tasks, for example, was in the normal range. Rather, their discourse problems were related to higher-level cognitive-linguistic processes that allowed them to plan and sequence events in a narrative, draw inferences about the mental states of characters, and establish temporal and causal relations between actions. These difficulties are quite unlike the grammatical and other linguistic deficits in a primary language disorder such as aphasia. Since they arise secondary to cognitive processing problems, they have the character of a cognitive-communication disorder. Speech and language therapists are more familiar with cognitive-communication disorders in the context of conditions such as right-hemisphere damage, traumatic brain injury, and neurodegeneration. It now appears likely that they also arise as a post-viral effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Cummings, L. (ed.) (2022) COVID-19 and Speech-Language Pathology . New York: Routledge.

Davis, H. E., Assaf, G. S., McCorkell, L., Wei, H., Low, R. J., Re’em, Y., et al. (2021). Characterizing long COVID in an international cohort: 7 months of symptoms and their impact. EClinicalMedicine , 38, 101019. doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.101019.

Office of National Statistics (2022). Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK: 3 March 2022. Available online: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/prevalenceofongoingsymptomsfollowingcoronaviruscovid19infectionintheuk/3march2022 .

World Health Organization (2021). A clinical case definition of post COVID-19 condition by a Delphi consensus, 6 October 2021. Available online: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-Post_COVID-19_condition-Clinical_case_definition-2021.1 . Accessed 29 November 2021.

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What the Data Says About Pandemic School Closures, Four Years Later

The more time students spent in remote instruction, the further they fell behind. And, experts say, extended closures did little to stop the spread of Covid.

Sarah Mervosh

By Sarah Mervosh ,  Claire Cain Miller and Francesca Paris

Four years ago this month, schools nationwide began to shut down, igniting one of the most polarizing and partisan debates of the pandemic.

Some schools, often in Republican-led states and rural areas, reopened by fall 2020. Others, typically in large cities and states led by Democrats, would not fully reopen for another year.

A variety of data — about children’s academic outcomes and about the spread of Covid-19 — has accumulated in the time since. Today, there is broad acknowledgment among many public health and education experts that extended school closures did not significantly stop the spread of Covid, while the academic harms for children have been large and long-lasting.

While poverty and other factors also played a role, remote learning was a key driver of academic declines during the pandemic, research shows — a finding that held true across income levels.

Source: Fahle, Kane, Patterson, Reardon, Staiger and Stuart, “ School District and Community Factors Associated With Learning Loss During the COVID-19 Pandemic .” Score changes are measured from 2019 to 2022. In-person means a district offered traditional in-person learning, even if not all students were in-person.

“There’s fairly good consensus that, in general, as a society, we probably kept kids out of school longer than we should have,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary, a pediatric infectious disease specialist who helped write guidance for the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommended in June 2020 that schools reopen with safety measures in place.

There were no easy decisions at the time. Officials had to weigh the risks of an emerging virus against the academic and mental health consequences of closing schools. And even schools that reopened quickly, by the fall of 2020, have seen lasting effects.

But as experts plan for the next public health emergency, whatever it may be, a growing body of research shows that pandemic school closures came at a steep cost to students.

The longer schools were closed, the more students fell behind.

At the state level, more time spent in remote or hybrid instruction in the 2020-21 school year was associated with larger drops in test scores, according to a New York Times analysis of school closure data and results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress , an authoritative exam administered to a national sample of fourth- and eighth-grade students.

At the school district level, that finding also holds, according to an analysis of test scores from third through eighth grade in thousands of U.S. districts, led by researchers at Stanford and Harvard. In districts where students spent most of the 2020-21 school year learning remotely, they fell more than half a grade behind in math on average, while in districts that spent most of the year in person they lost just over a third of a grade.

( A separate study of nearly 10,000 schools found similar results.)

Such losses can be hard to overcome, without significant interventions. The most recent test scores, from spring 2023, show that students, overall, are not caught up from their pandemic losses , with larger gaps remaining among students that lost the most ground to begin with. Students in districts that were remote or hybrid the longest — at least 90 percent of the 2020-21 school year — still had almost double the ground to make up compared with students in districts that allowed students back for most of the year.

Some time in person was better than no time.

As districts shifted toward in-person learning as the year went on, students that were offered a hybrid schedule (a few hours or days a week in person, with the rest online) did better, on average, than those in places where school was fully remote, but worse than those in places that had school fully in person.

Students in hybrid or remote learning, 2020-21

80% of students

Some schools return online, as Covid-19 cases surge. Vaccinations start for high-priority groups.

Teachers are eligible for the Covid vaccine in more than half of states.

Most districts end the year in-person or hybrid.

Source: Burbio audit of more than 1,200 school districts representing 47 percent of U.S. K-12 enrollment. Note: Learning mode was defined based on the most in-person option available to students.

Income and family background also made a big difference.

A second factor associated with academic declines during the pandemic was a community’s poverty level. Comparing districts with similar remote learning policies, poorer districts had steeper losses.

But in-person learning still mattered: Looking at districts with similar poverty levels, remote learning was associated with greater declines.

A community’s poverty rate and the length of school closures had a “roughly equal” effect on student outcomes, said Sean F. Reardon, a professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford, who led a district-level analysis with Thomas J. Kane, an economist at Harvard.

Score changes are measured from 2019 to 2022. Poorest and richest are the top and bottom 20% of districts by percent of students on free/reduced lunch. Mostly in-person and mostly remote are districts that offered traditional in-person learning for more than 90 percent or less than 10 percent of the 2020-21 year.

But the combination — poverty and remote learning — was particularly harmful. For each week spent remote, students in poor districts experienced steeper losses in math than peers in richer districts.

That is notable, because poor districts were also more likely to stay remote for longer .

Some of the country’s largest poor districts are in Democratic-leaning cities that took a more cautious approach to the virus. Poor areas, and Black and Hispanic communities , also suffered higher Covid death rates, making many families and teachers in those districts hesitant to return.

“We wanted to survive,” said Sarah Carpenter, the executive director of Memphis Lift, a parent advocacy group in Memphis, where schools were closed until spring 2021 .

“But I also think, man, looking back, I wish our kids could have gone back to school much quicker,” she added, citing the academic effects.

Other things were also associated with worse student outcomes, including increased anxiety and depression among adults in children’s lives, and the overall restriction of social activity in a community, according to the Stanford and Harvard research .

Even short closures had long-term consequences for children.

While being in school was on average better for academic outcomes, it wasn’t a guarantee. Some districts that opened early, like those in Cherokee County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, and Hanover County, Va., lost significant learning and remain behind.

At the same time, many schools are seeing more anxiety and behavioral outbursts among students. And chronic absenteeism from school has surged across demographic groups .

These are signs, experts say, that even short-term closures, and the pandemic more broadly, had lasting effects on the culture of education.

“There was almost, in the Covid era, a sense of, ‘We give up, we’re just trying to keep body and soul together,’ and I think that was corrosive to the higher expectations of schools,” said Margaret Spellings, an education secretary under President George W. Bush who is now chief executive of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Closing schools did not appear to significantly slow Covid’s spread.

Perhaps the biggest question that hung over school reopenings: Was it safe?

That was largely unknown in the spring of 2020, when schools first shut down. But several experts said that had changed by the fall of 2020, when there were initial signs that children were less likely to become seriously ill, and growing evidence from Europe and parts of the United States that opening schools, with safety measures, did not lead to significantly more transmission.

“Infectious disease leaders have generally agreed that school closures were not an important strategy in stemming the spread of Covid,” said Dr. Jeanne Noble, who directed the Covid response at the U.C.S.F. Parnassus emergency department.

Politically, though, there remains some disagreement about when, exactly, it was safe to reopen school.

Republican governors who pushed to open schools sooner have claimed credit for their approach, while Democrats and teachers’ unions have emphasized their commitment to safety and their investment in helping students recover.

“I do believe it was the right decision,” said Jerry T. Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which resisted returning to school in person over concerns about the availability of vaccines and poor ventilation in school buildings. Philadelphia schools waited to partially reopen until the spring of 2021 , a decision Mr. Jordan believes saved lives.

“It doesn’t matter what is going on in the building and how much people are learning if people are getting the virus and running the potential of dying,” he said.

Pandemic school closures offer lessons for the future.

Though the next health crisis may have different particulars, with different risk calculations, the consequences of closing schools are now well established, experts say.

In the future, infectious disease experts said, they hoped decisions would be guided more by epidemiological data as it emerged, taking into account the trade-offs.

“Could we have used data to better guide our decision making? Yes,” said Dr. Uzma N. Hasan, division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at RWJBarnabas Health in Livingston, N.J. “Fear should not guide our decision making.”

Source: Fahle, Kane, Patterson, Reardon, Staiger and Stuart, “ School District and Community Factors Associated With Learning Loss During the Covid-19 Pandemic. ”

The study used estimates of learning loss from the Stanford Education Data Archive . For closure lengths, the study averaged district-level estimates of time spent in remote and hybrid learning compiled by the Covid-19 School Data Hub (C.S.D.H.) and American Enterprise Institute (A.E.I.) . The A.E.I. data defines remote status by whether there was an in-person or hybrid option, even if some students chose to remain virtual. In the C.S.D.H. data set, districts are defined as remote if “all or most” students were virtual.

An earlier version of this article misstated a job description of Dr. Jeanne Noble. She directed the Covid response at the U.C.S.F. Parnassus emergency department. She did not direct the Covid response for the University of California, San Francisco health system.

How we handle corrections

Sarah Mervosh covers education for The Times, focusing on K-12 schools. More about Sarah Mervosh

Claire Cain Miller writes about gender, families and the future of work for The Upshot. She joined The Times in 2008 and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. More about Claire Cain Miller

Francesca Paris is a Times reporter working with data and graphics for The Upshot. More about Francesca Paris

COVID-19 Shows Why the World Needs a Pandemic Agreement

A person writes a message on The National Covid Memorial Wall, on national day of reflection to mark the two year anniversary of the United Kingdom going into national lockdown, in London, on March 23, 2022.

T oday marks four years since I said the global outbreak of COVID-19 could be characterized as a pandemic.

My decision to use the “p-word” was not one I took lightly. Pandemic is a powerful word, evoking fear linked to plagues and pandemics throughout history that have claimed millions of lives and caused severe disruption to societies and economies—as COVID-19 did.

Many of WHO’s critics have pointed to my use of “pandemic” on March 11, 2020 as evidence that WHO was “late” in taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously. By that stage, more than 118,000 cases had been reported in 114 countries, and more than 4,000 deaths. The horse had bolted.

However, the far more significant date was January 30, 2020 , six weeks earlier, when I declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)—the highest level of alarm under the International Health Regulations (IHR), an instrument of international law designed to govern the response to global health emergencies. At that time, fewer than 100 cases, and no deaths, had been reported outside China.

A PHEIC has legal and technical meaning; “pandemic” does not—it’s a descriptor, rather than a technical designation.

I declared an end to COVID-19 as a PHEIC on May 5 of last year . Although the crisis has passed, the threat has not. The virus is still circulating, still changing, and still killing.

As countries learn to manage COVID-19 alongside other disease threats, and continue to grapple with the complications of Long COVID, they must also learn the painful lessons of COVID-19, and take corrective action to address deficiencies in the IHR and gaps in global health security that the pandemic exposed.

History teaches us that the next pandemic is not a matter of if, but when. It may be in our lifetime; it may not come for another 100 years or more. But it will come. And as things stand, the world remains unprepared.

Read More : Experts Can't Agree Whether We're Still in a Pandemic

That’s not to say nothing has been done. In the past two years, WHO, our Member States, and partners have established several initiatives to detect outbreaks earlier, strengthen sharing of biological samples and sequences, expand regional manufacturing of vaccines and other tools, improve equitable access to medical countermeasures, and strengthen financing of national preparedness and response capacities, especially in lower-income countries.

But there is still one key missing ingredient: an agreed framework between countries on how they will work together to counter the threat of a future pandemic.

The lack of coordination and cooperation between countries was one of the greatest failings of the global response to COVID-19. Countries became competitors, rather than cooperators, especially in seeking access to vaccines.

While the development of multiple safe and effective vaccines in such rapid time was an unprecedented triumph of science , before a single jab reached an arm, high-income countries had used their financial muscle to pre-order most of the world’s supply—often ordering more than they might ever need—leaving lower-income countries behind, waiting for scraps.

Of course, every sovereign government is responsible for protecting its people. But in a pandemic, no country can truly protect itself without working with other countries—especially those with the least financial, technical, or political capital—to ensure they too are protected. A global threat demands a global coordinated response.

Countries have recognized that, which is why they decided to strengthen the IHR and, in December 2021 , to develop an international agreement on pandemic preparedness and response —a legally-binding generational pact to work together to keep themselves and each other safe.

They set themselves a deadline of completing the agreement and the IHR amendments in time for adoption at the World Health Assembly in May 2024. That’s now just 10 weeks away.

Read More : Is There a 'COVID' Season Yet?

Countries are making good progress, and have agreed on significant elements of the draft agreement, although there are still some issues which require further negotiation. I remain confident they can and will find common ground.

A more pernicious problem is the avalanche of lies, fake news, and conspiracy theories about the pandemic agreement that are propagating on social and traditional media.

Just as the response to the pandemic itself was hampered by mis- and disinformation, so the agreement’s negotiators are operating amid a frenzy of falsehoods: That the agreement is a power grab by WHO ; that it will give WHO power to impose lockdowns or vaccine mandates on countries; or that it’s an attack on freedom .

These claims are completely false. WHO does not have, and has never had, the power to impose anything on anyone. We don’t want that power, and we’re not trying to get it.

The agreement is being written by countries, for countries, and will be implemented in countries in accordance with their own national laws. No country will be signing away its sovereignty to WHO. Why would it?

Legally-binding international agreements are not new. They are a tool that countries have used often since the end of the Second World War to meet common threats with a common response: the Geneva Conventions; the UN Charter; the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; the Paris Agreement; the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; and the WHO Constitution, to name a few.

All are binding agreements in international law, and none give UN staff, including me, power to dictate to sovereign states.

In his classic novel La Peste , Albert Camus wrote, “There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”

As the generation that lived through the COVID-19 crisis, we have a collective responsibility to protect future generations from the suffering we endured.

Because pathogens have no regard for the lines humans draw on maps, nor for the color of our politics, the size of our economies, or the strength of our militaries.

For everything that makes us different, we are one humanity, the same species, sharing the same DNA and the same planet.

We have no future but a common future.

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Nurses at Queensland hospital

Time to stop using term ‘long Covid’ as symptoms no worse than those after flu, Queensland’s chief health officer says

Researchers compared the symptoms and impairment of Covid and influenza patients a year after they tested positive

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Long Covid may be no different from other post-viral syndromes such as those experienced after flu, according to new research from Queensland Health.

The lead author of the study, the state’s chief health officer Dr John Gerrard, said it was “time to stop using terms like ‘long Covid’” because they imply there is something unique about the longer-term symptoms associated with the virus, and in some cases create hypervigilance.

There are different definitions of long Covid but the World Health Organization defines post-Covid or long Covid as occurring in people still experiencing symptoms three months after their initial Covid-19 infection, when those symptoms can’t be explained by an alternative diagnosis.

The study surveyed 5,112 adults who had symptoms of a respiratory illness and underwent PCR testing between May and June 2022. Of those, 2,399 were positive for Covid-19, 995 positive for influenza and 1,718 negative for both.

A year after their PCR test, participants were asked about ongoing symptoms and impairment using a questionnaire delivered by SMS link.

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Overall, 16% reported ongoing symptoms a year later, and 3.6% reported moderate-to-severe impairment in their daily activities.

The results of the study, which Gerrard will present next month at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona, found no evidence that those who had Covid-19 were more likely to have functional limitations a year on compared with those who did not have Covid-19 (3.0% v 4.1%).

The 3% of the study participants who had ongoing impairments after Covid-19 infection was similar to the 3.4% with ongoing impairments after influenza.

The study also looked at specific symptoms in the patients who had moderate to severe impairment, and found in both patients who were Covid positive and negative, the same percentage (94%) reported one or more of the commonly reported symptoms of long Covid: fatigue, post exertional symptom exacerbation, brain fog and changes to taste and smell.

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Gerrard said long Covid may have appeared to be a distinct and severe illness because of the high number of people infected with Covid-19 within a short period of time, rather than the severity of long Covid symptoms.

“We believe it is time to stop using terms like ‘long Covid’. They wrongly imply there is something unique and exceptional about longer-term symptoms associated with this virus. This terminology can cause unnecessary fear, and in some cases, hypervigilance to longer symptoms that can impede recovery.”

In a press conference on Friday, Gerrard said: “I want to make it clear that the symptoms that some patients described after having Covid-19 are real, and we believe they are real. What we are saying is that the incidence of these symptoms is no greater in Covid-19 than it is with other respiratory viruses, and that to use this term ‘long Covid’ is misleading and I believe harmful.”

The researchers acknowledged the findings are associations and do not represent prevalence, and acknowledged limitations in that participants who attended hospital or had pre-existing illness were not identifiable. They also said because 90% of people in Queensland were vaccinated when Omicron emerged, the lower severity of long Covid could be due to vaccination and the variant.

Prof Philip Britton, a paediatric infectious diseases physician from the University of Sydney and a member of the Long Covid Australia Collaboration, welcomed the study given the lack of published research from Australia in this area.

However, Britton said the conclusion that it was time to stop using terms such as long Covid was “overstated and potentially unhelpful. Long Covid has been a global phenomenon, recognised by WHO.”

Prof Jeremy Nicholson, the director of the Australian National Phenome Centre at Murdoch University, said the question of whether long Covid is unique “cannot be simply answered in this work”.

“The study is observational, based on reported symptoms with no physiological or detailed functional follow-up data. Without laboratory pathophysiological assessment of individual patients, it is impossible to say that this is indistinguishable from flu-related or any other post-viral syndrome,” Nicholson said.

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Supreme Court seems favorable to Biden administration over efforts to combat social media posts

Listen to the oral arguments as U.S. Supreme Court takes up the Murthy v. Missouri case, a dispute between Republican-led states and the Biden administration over how far the federal government can go to combat controversial social media posts on topics including COVID-19 and election security.

App logos for Facebook, left, and X, formerly known as Twitter, are seen on a mobile phone in Los Angeles, Saturday, March 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Paula Ulichney)

App logos for Facebook, left, and X, formerly known as Twitter, are seen on a mobile phone in Los Angeles, Saturday, March 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Paula Ulichney)

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FILE - The Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seemed likely Monday to side with the Biden administration in a dispute with Republican-led states over how far the federal government can go to combat controversial social media posts on topics including COVID-19 and election security in a case that could set standards for free speech in the digital age.

The justices seemed broadly skeptical during nearly two hours of arguments that a lawyer for Louisiana, Missouri and other parties presented accusing officials in the Democratic administration of leaning on the social media platforms to unconstitutionally squelch conservative points of view.

Lower courts have sided with the states, but the Supreme Court blocked those rulings while it considers the issue.

Several justices said they were concerned that common interactions between government officials and the platforms could be affected by a ruling for the states.

In one example, Justice Amy Coney Barrett expressed surprise when Louisiana Solicitor General J. Benjamin Aguiñaga questioned whether the FBI could call Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) to encourage them to take down posts that maliciously released someone’s personal information without permission, the practice known as doxxing.

This photo taken on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, shows a house in Zearing, Iowa, where four members of a family were accused of abducting and badly abusing another relative. The 18-year-old victim suffered a brain bleed and other injuries. Court documents say the teen weighed just 70 pounds (32 kilograms) when he showed up at a hospital. (AP Photo/Hannah Fingerhut)

“Do you know how often the FBI makes those calls?” Barrett asked, suggesting they happen frequently.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh also signaled that a ruling for the states would mean that “traditional, everyday communications would suddenly be deemed problematic.”

The case Monday was among several the court is considering that affect social media companies in the context of free speech. Last week, the court laid out standards for when public officials can block their social media followers . Less than a month ago, the court heard arguments over Republican-passed laws in Florida and Texas that prohibit large social media companies from taking down posts because of the views they express.

The cases over state laws and the one that was argued Monday are variations on the same theme, complaints that the platforms are censoring conservative viewpoints.

The states argue that White House communications staffers, the surgeon general, the FBI and the U.S. cybersecurity agency are among those who coerced changes in online content on social media platforms.

Aguiñaga put the situation in stark terms, telling the justices that “the record reveals unrelenting pressure by the government to coerce social media platforms to suppress the speech of millions of Americans.”

He said that calls merely encouraging the platforms to act also could violate speech rights, responding to a hypothetical situation conjured by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, about an online challenge that “involved teens jumping out of windows at increasing elevations.”

Jackson, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, pressed the Louisiana lawyer about whether platforms could be encouraged to remove such posts.

“I was with you right until that last comment, Your Honor,” Aguiñaga said. “I think they absolutely can call and say this is a problem, it’s going rampant on your platforms, but the moment that the government tries to use its ability as the government and its stature as the government to pressure them to take it down, that is when you’re interfering with the third party’s speech rights.”

Justice Samuel Alito appeared most open to the states’ arguments, at one point referring to the government’s “constant pestering of Facebook and some of the other platforms.” Alito, along with Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, would have allowed the restrictions on government contacts with the platforms to go into effect.

Justice Department lawyer Brian Fletcher argued that none of the actions the states complain about come close to problematic coercion and that the federal government would lose its ability to communicate with the social media companies about antisemitic and anti-Muslim posts, as well as on issues of national security, public health and election integrity.

The platforms are large sophisticated actors with no reluctance to stand up to the government, “saying no repeatedly when they disagree with what the government is asking them to do,” Fletcher said.

Justice Elena Kagan and Kavanaugh, two justices who served in the White House earlier in their careers, seemed to agree, likening the exchanges between officials and the platforms to relationships between the government and more traditional media.

Kavanaugh described “experienced government press people throughout the federal government who regularly call up the media and -- and berate them.”

Later, Kagan said, “I mean, this happens literally thousands of times a day in the federal government.”

Alito, gesturing at the courtroom’s press section, mused that whenever reporters “write something we don’t like,” the court’s chief spokeswoman “can call them up and curse them out and say...why don’t we be partners? We’re on the same team. Why don’t you show us what you’re going to write beforehand? We’ll edit it for you, make sure it’s accurate.”

Free speech advocates said the court should use the case to draw an appropriate line between the government’s acceptable use of the bully pulpit and coercive threats to free speech.

“We’re encouraged that the Court was sensitive both to the First Amendment rights of platforms and their users, and to the public interest in having a government empowered to participate in public discourse. To that end, we hope that the Court resolves these cases by making clear that the First Amendment prohibits coercion but permits the government to attempt to shape public opinion through the use of persuasion,” Alex Abdo, litigation director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said in a statement.

A panel of three judges on the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled earlier that the Biden administration had probably brought unconstitutional pressure on the media platforms. The appellate panel said officials cannot attempt to “coerce or significantly encourage” changes in online content. The panel had previously narrowed a more sweeping order from a federal judge, who wanted to include even more government officials and prohibit mere encouragement of content changes.

A divided Supreme Court put the 5th Circuit ruling on hold in October, when it agreed to take up the case.

A decision in Murthy v. Missouri, 23-411, is expected by early summer.

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