The world has engulfed into an unprecedented economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, COVID-19 was started as a global health crisis with limited implications on the economy, but soon it became an economic crisis. The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the flaws in current prevalent systems. The Economic system, Healthcare System, Environmental protection, and Social System need immediate revamping for the continuous and healthy growth of the world.
A large number of people got infected by it in a small time frame, due to COVID-19’s highly contagious nature. The government across the world initiated lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which impacted the economy. Some countries extended lockdown for over two months to contain the community spread. The market activity in many country’s remained standstill during the lockdown period. These lockdowns, especially in developing countries, obliviated a large number of small businesses and raised the unemployment rate to an alarming level.
The demand for many products has vanished completely due to income loss. The job losses would eventually push many into poverty, due to possible delays in the revival of demand. Private investment is also likely to remain subdued due to the sudden increase in risk caused by COVID-19. Government investment alone would not suffice to generate millions of jobs.
Almost all countries are now easing lockdowns, and many others are also allowing the usual economic activity. People have started spending money with the opening of markets but the demand is still far from the pre-lockdown period, and it is unlikely to reach the level sooner. Customers are likely to stay away from the markets for some more months to avoid getting infected.
Nobody has imagined that a disease could inflict such a crisis upon the world economy. COVID-19 has wide opened the cracks present in the current economic, social, and health system. The jury is still out on the success of lockdown in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but lockdowns certainly affected the economy across the globe. Businesses of small and medium enterprises vastly affected due to a lack of demand and capital to keep running the business during the lockdown period. Many corporations with sufficient capital and the stock suffered due to the breakdown of the global and domestic supply chain.
The debt level of the many countries is at an all-time high due to borrowing by the governments for providing stimulus package to its industries. To arrest the rising graph of unemployment, the restart of economic activity is the priority of every government. But due to historical reasons and mismanagement, many countries are carrying a heavy debt burden and are on the verge of economic collapse. The countries with moderate debt are in a better position but cannot handle prolonged economic slowdown or recession.
The Healthcare Crisis.
COVID-19 reminded us again that we lack the medical infrastructure to cope with such situations. Hospitals and Medical facilities of every country, from developed to underdeveloped, came under severe strain with the rapid increase in the COVID-19 cases. Every government has to create makeshift hospitals due to a lack of facilities and beds to treat such a huge number. Provisions of medical care done by the many become insufficient.
COVID-19 smashed all the tall claims about health care facilities. The developed countries such as the US and UK struggled to provide basic treatment to COVID-19 patients, let alone the poor countries. Most of the world-class cities with modern hospitals were unable to cope with the sudden rise of the ill people. The hospitals in the cities were running out of the ventilators, which are essential for critical COVID-19.
Most of the countries during the COVID-19 crises faced the scarcity of the Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE is essential for the medical staff or other staff handling the patients with a highly contagious disease such as COVID -19. To fulfill the demand of PPE, many countries were required to import these kits, which delayed the mobilization of healthcare specialists and treatment of patients.
Without an iota of doubt, it can be claimed that the COVID-19 crises are a consequence of environmental degradation. Huge deforestation by the countries for the development and over-exploitation of natural resources are exposing human with the deadly viruses present in the wildlife. The expansion of the cities up to the border of forests, making the town population vulnerable. The elimination of habitat of wild animals forcing them to venture into the outskirt of cities for food. Many animals such as bat and the prevalence of consuming rare wildlife as a delicacy in many communities are also adding to the exposure.
The international smuggling of exotic wildlife for consumption and raising them as pets is a cause of concern. The unregulated movement of wildlife across the globe means the supply of dead and ill animals along with the disease.
The Problem of Social System.
COVID -19 has severely affected poor African and Asian nations. The countries in Asia, such as India and Pakistan, suffered mostly due to poor social security net and widespread poverty. In India, the announcement of lockdown created a chaotic situation due to shop rush in the hour before the commencement of lockdown. The gathering of thousands of immigrant laborers on the roads of cities, such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad, demanding a return to hometown amidst lockdown, created an embarrassing situation for the government. The poor of the underdeveloped countries, not only hugely affected by the COVID-19 due to lack of medical facilities but also suffered due to hunger.
In developed countries (the US and UK), the people of African origin were affected more by the COVID-19 in comparison to whites. The states with a large population of African-Americans are the states that suffered most in the US. The prominent reason for the suffering of African-Americans is their inferior financial status. The discrimination based on caste in India and the skin color in the west also hinders economic progress.
These important issues are required to be addressed if we do not want multiple crises arise from a single event (Spread of COVID-19). In the next part, we would discuss, how these prevalent systems can be revamped for better future.