As we all know, the pandemic COVID-19 has uprooted life. From social gatherings to daily errands, everything has been entirely changed, and most of us don’t like this transition (to say the least).
The world is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine for the safety of ourselves and for those we love, and the return of life as we know it.
However, the reality and sadness are that life will not be going back to its original state for a long time due to issues and questions around the actual vaccine and when and how the vaccine will be distributed.
An important point to remember is that this will not be one of those light switch things when we suddenly have a vaccine and everyone is vaccinated. This will take some time, dean of the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, Hilary Godwin said.
We are very lucky that we are developing many vaccine candidates, but we have indeed accelerated this process greatly, so any super-effective opportunity is not big.
In the next few years, life will be different, but what exactly does this mean?
Below, Experts in the fields of public health and mental health have discussed the expected world situation after the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine.
1. It is expected that several countries (especially the United States) will transform into a culture of wearing masks
One year from now, and even further, Godwin expects to still see people wearing masks in public places, especially those who are more susceptible to COVID-19.
I think a significant part of the future will be greater expectations for masks. Except in clinical settings, in the United States, wearing masks for infectious disease control is not part of the culture. She appended mask-wearing will become more normal, which is the same as in many Asian countries in recent years. We will see the change in this direction.
Thus, Several countries, especially the United States may be adopted a mask-wearing culture, even after a COVID-19 vaccine arrives.
2. Even after the vaccine is released, scientists and doctors must understand the effectiveness and efficacy of the vaccine
The speed at which scientists are working to develop the COVID-19 vaccine is rapid, but the excitement surrounding the development of a fast track vaccine has raised concerns among many health professionals.
Aparna Kumar, a nurse scientist and assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University, said that the speed of the vaccine development is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Science is advancing very fast, which is great, but it also limits what we understand about the effectiveness of vaccines.
She defines the effectiveness of the vaccine in terms of vaccine performance under ideal conditions, such as in a randomized controlled trial. Effectiveness indicates the extent to which the vaccine lessens the frequency of disease in the unvaccinated population.
Kumar who is also the Chief Community Officer at Dear Pandemic, an all-female team of clinicians and researchers who are responding to COVID-19 misinformation by sharing convenient and reliable information on social media- she said the vaccine may exterminate the virus either.
She pointed out that the vaccine for children is extremely effective, but like the flu vaccines, its effective rate is 40% to 62%, depending on the year and the influenza virus strain.
She further stated that the influenza vaccine can prevent many people from getting seriously ill and from the spread of the disease in the community, but we still know that many people will get sick.
She added that the findings regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine are difficult to discuss unless the vaccine is deployed to the community, which means that health professionals cannot predict the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine until it is prescribed to the public.
3. Doctors also anticipate concerns about the actual distribution of the Vaccine
The rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine has also raised concerns about the actual distribution of the approved vaccine.
Tony Moody, a physician-scientist at Duke University, stated that mainly due to supply chain issues, the deployment of vaccines will face many challenges.
How do you make enough doses and distribute them on time?
We can do great things by using the vaccine production capacity. It’s done very well-we produce billions of flu vaccines every year-but it will be very challenging to make this new product capable of rapid distribution.
He assumes issues around the glass vials and stoppers needed for vaccine distribution and storage. He further stated that most of the vials and stoppers are manufactured abroad. If can’t import the ships, you won’t be able to get the resources you need. Even if you manufacture a vaccine, can you get enough vials?
4. Rely on fewer business trips and more remote work opportunities
With the development of digital technology and the realization that certain industries can easily continue to develop without sending workers across the world or the country, Godwin said she hopes that people in most industries will have less business travel.
I guess business trips may be reduced. We can now accomplish many things without being in the same room, she said.
5. Will employers be more flexible with work from home policies even after the COVID-19 vaccine’s available?
She said that the work-from-home routine has accelerated the adoption of new technologies such as Zoom in a way that would never happen. She hopes the company will be more flexible in its remote work policy-especially if it can still get work done at home while preventing people from getting sick and helping the company save operating costs.
6. Don’t plan to attend any sporting event or a concert for the time being
Unfortunately, as the vaccine for coronavirus is rolling out and the determination of its effectiveness is being made, crowded concerts or sporting events will not become part of our new normal.
Moody said that it will be very difficult to convince somebody to return to large gatherings solely for recreational or entertainment purposes. I think you will see a group of people gather at smaller gatherings. I suspect we will have big events with thousands of people gathered together.
He especially expressed concern about the crowds inside the performing arts and sports venues. He asked how to safely welcome a group of people in an enclosed area and what this means for the venue.
7. How will we get people back to the venue as soon as possible? Will the venue charge triple because the venue can only fill half of the seats?
Moody replied: This makes people unable to bear so many things. I think this will be a real challenge.
As the circulation of fresh air helps reduce the risk of the virus, he added that outdoor social gatherings will become more common. In the next few years, outdoor gatherings may continue to become more common.
8. Expected to have a significant impact on Psychology, Society, and Social-culture
There is no doubt that people are extremely affected by the major events that take place in their lives. People who have experienced the great depression have different tendencies than those who have not. People who grew up during the Vietnam war had different opinions from those born after the war. It is foreseeable that modern-day society will be shaped by the coronavirus pandemic.
The psychological sequelae of disasters usually appear six months after the event ends, noted by Edwin Fisher, Professor of health behavior, at the Gilling School of Global Public Health at North Carolina University at Chapel Hill. He predicts that this pandemic will have long term an impact on mental health and change culture, leaving millions of people especially Americans in social and physical isolation for several months.
Fisher said: It is everywhere because it’s all omnipresent as it attacks us 24/7, we often cannot track the impact of COVID on our daily lives, emotions, and consciousness. Well, what is the similar effect we have had for more than 100 years with the world’s largest pandemic? There will be many, many long-term effects.
He is worried about suicide rate, depression, and marital problems-which are currently increasing due to the pandemic.
9. Looking forward to a public health system that is more prepared to respond to the pandemics
Kumar said that after experiencing a pandemic, our health system will only be better prepared for any future health crises or future coronavirus outbreaks.
During this pandemic, we have learned a lot about our public health system and structures, and these situations will get better, Kumar said. As we move on, we are extra prepared for a potential future outbreak. With these systems and structures, we can reactivate them when needed.
Now, most of the public is also aware of pandemic combat behaviors such as social distancing and wearing masks, two things that were almost unheard of in most countries, especially in the United States before this year.
The public health system will be extra prepared for future health emergencies.
10. Expect several levels of discord in the entire community
Although the vast majority of people are in the countdown, Fisher warned that any unrealistic and premature hype about vaccines may lead people to believe that once the needle hits their body, all the problems will end.
He said that with the advent of vaccines, conflicts, social disharmony, and unintended consequences are likely to occur.
The community, colleagues, friends, and family will face hard decisions about how to maintain healthy security and safely socialize after months and months of isolation to send their children to school where there may be unvaccinated students.
He also emphasized that the disease has highlighted and exacerbated potential problems regarding vaccine distribution and racial inequality.
11. The Virus will not Disappear Completely
Unfortunately, COVID-19 will not go away completely even when the vaccine is deployed. Godwin remarked that several countries including the United States have a long history of people being opposed to the use of vaccines.
Godwin further stated that we have seen people who say they don’t want to get a vaccine, which limits our ability to generate herd immunity, which protects those people who can’t get the vaccine or don’t have it.
She warned that, as a result of those who choose not to vaccinate, the virus will continue to spread even if effective vaccines are widely available.
She emphasized that we will have to live with the COVID-19 virus for a while.