What will become of society after the pandemic? Many speculations fluctuate between the tragicomic and the surreal. No, we will not have an epidemiology dictatorship. Nor is it a zombie apocalypse. In contrast, I dare to bet on optimism: once the crisis is over, we will be better off than we entered. And life will inevitably return to normal.
Why better? In the legacy of the pandemic, we can expect more people to absorb the basic lesson of seeing nature through the prism of mathematics. A society that does not know how to multiply beyond “multiply yourselves” will always be in serious trouble.
I hope that public agents have a “socio-immunological memory” of at least a few decades, with an agenda for action and cooperation (local, national and global) in the event of new emergencies.
We can also imagine that more states will come out with the understanding that “the account” of social and economic impacts is theirs. Nobody pays tax to hear, “I'm sorry, what do you want me to do?”. It is for those hours that the state exists.
And there will be technological gains. In recent months, scientists and technicians have presented everything from more efficient germicidal lamps to long-lasting disinfectants, to low-cost respirators. They were all low or zero priority technologies before the crisis. Although they are only mild palliatives now, they should help a lot of people in the future.
Not to mention vaccines. Yes, I am optimistic that a vaccine for the new coronavirus is possible and on the way – by the end of the year it would not be unthinkable, although most health workers maintain the traditional “18 to 24 month, best of all hypotheses ”. (No one can blame them; before we get into the "hurry" mode, that would in fact be the optimistic outlook.)
The vaccine may not come, of course. But, even so, the technologies created and tested today, to try to face the covid-19, as well as the expansion of the industrial park for mass production, will benefit future treatments.
Again, before the pandemic, advanced vaccines were seen as low priority and high risk. Billions of investments have now become "modest" compared to economic disgrace. The cost-benefit ratio has become – for the benefit of the medicine of the future.
Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. Really. We will come out of the pandemic better than we did – more supportive, mature and prepared for a return to normality. Not only because that is what humans do (again and again), but because of the debt we owe to those who will not complete the crossing with us. Let us watch over the present today, doing our best, and the future takes care of itself.
This column is published on Mondays, in Folha Corrida.