The coronavirus crisis has changed the world in countless ways, from the incalculable human suffering to the enormous rise in unemployment. Some of these changes will be temporary, but others could permanently alter the landscape for many countries. Dr. Joel Arun Sursas takes a look at some of these changes and speculates what the future may hold.
COVID-19 fundamentally altered the way that people live and work virtually overnight. Although commerce will return to the world economy, many industries have been permanently altered, and it would be difficult to find anyone who believes our social lives will bounce back immediately. Mundane activities like shopping, gathering with friends, attending school and church, eating out, and traveling are much different. People are much more likely to hesitate to travel for work or pleasure. Sporting events may never return to the community-wide activities that people have enjoyed for centuries.
Worldwide, governments' response to the pandemic has sown seeds of distrust and doubt in our leaders. As always, politics have played a key role in much of the response. All decisions are subject to attack by partisans, and opportunism and cynicism have unfortunately driven much of the public reaction to the governmental response. [2, 4] There was no way to predict the future when the pandemic began, and the closure of businesses and the implementation of social distancing measures seemed like the best option. It's difficult to speculate what may have happened without these restrictions. Governments have also used the pandemic crisis as a mechanism to enact fiscal plans and spending that would have otherwise been impossible. Only the passage of time will tell whether restraint or stimulus was the right choice for saving the world economy from collapse. [1, 4]
For decades, big tech has adapted to a volatile market and implemented new changes quickly. However, the response of big tech and Silicon Valley to the COVID-19 pandemic has been slower than expected. While we have enjoyed speedy communication applications, including Zoom and streaming services, we are reminded that big tech does not directly produce tangible consumer goods or medical supplies. The crisis has exposed that big tech companies excel at communication- and software-driven products, but many cannot deliver tangible goods if needed. It may be time to focus on using the untold power of technology to unleash the power of the marketplace to manufacture and distribute the essential products that people need to survive. 
If there is an overarching lesson for the world to take away from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that we must carefully study the way the disease spread and find ways to better prepare for the next outbreak, which is undoubtedly coming. Every year that passes increases the risk of widespread novel virus infection, and none of us should discount the risk that a human-made virus could present new dangers. Cooperation and planning are the keys to handling infectious diseases in a global community. Politics and national rivalries must take a backseat to the potential of an epidemic that might devastate human life globally.
About Dr. Joel Arun Sursas
Dr. Joel Arun Sursas is a Medical Doctor and Health Informatician who designs and implements the latest technological developments to solve administrative problems in healthcare. His primary focus is on developing technological advances between doctors and engineers to improve patient outcomes through improved monitoring while protecting patient privacy. Dr. Sursas's interest in the field of Medical Informatics emerged when he began working as a Project Officer for PACES — the Patient Care Enhancement System for Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). At the SAF, he worked with multiple doctors and engineers on the largest Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system in Singapore and also developed a data analytics platform to assess epidemiological data throughout the system. is currently serving as Head of Clinical Affairs for Biorithm, a medical device start-up company working to move fetal surveillance from hospitals into home settings, revolutionizing the obstetric practice globally.
- NPR, How Covid-19 Is Challenging Cultures, March 18, 2020, Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2020/03/18/817960068/how-covid-19-is-challenging-cultures
- Navigator, The spread of COVID-19 has revealed an epidemic of mistrust, March 18, 2020, Retrieved from https://www.navltd.com/insights/the-spread-of-covid-19-has-revealed-an-epidemic-of-mistrust/
- MIT Technology Review, Covid-19 has blown apart the myth of Silicon Valley innovation, April 25, 2020, Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/25/1000563/covid-19-has-killed-the-myth-of-silicon-valley-innovation/
- Politico, DOJ seeks new emergency powers amid coronavirus pandemic, March 21, 2020, Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/21/doj-coronavirus-emergency-powers-140023