At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many economies of the world were virtually brought to their knees, even as their hitherto super-power status was rubbished. Generally speaking, what the pandemic brought in its wake was the truncation of the good days for most economies of the world, as livelihoods were either strangulated or put on a terrifying hold.
The United States of America, which is famed to be God’s own country, became one of the most embarrassed by the ravaging virus which sent millions of people to their graves. Despite its sophistication in the field of the medical sciences, America was forced to seek help from countries like India and China.
Economically speaking, the pandemic led to a total shutdown of business activities around the world. Countries counted their losses to the tune of billions of dollars as the world went on a frenzy of scientific investigations to unravel the mystery surrounding the cantankerous microbe.
According to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) presented in conjunction with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), international tourism and its allied sectors suffered an estimated huge loss of revenue to the tune of about $2.4 trillion in 2020, due to the indirect impact that the drastic drop in international arrivals had caused. It is also projected that the figures could rise to $4 trillion, if the virus continues to rear its ugly head through 2021.
In the United States, the pandemic left in its trail many unsavory socio-economic indices, such as 20 per cent decline in small business revenue, increase in level of individual and corporate bankruptcies, decline in number of labour force, loss of jobs, income shock for low-income families with children, and a general fear of the unknown.
While there appears to be some reprieve, due to the availability of vaccines, scientists are warning that the worst is yet to come as the likelihood of a third wave is becoming more and more pronounced.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the pandemic took a very destructive toll on their economies. Millions of jobs were lost, especially in the informal sector, where most occupations were contact-intensive. Women, young people and workers with low education, who make up the bulk of employment in sectors such as retail and hospitality, were most severely affected. Job and income losses pushed millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean into poverty, wiping out all progress made over the past 15 years.
In Europe, one of the biggest money-spinners, football, faced a serious backlash, as major leagues in the continent went on abrupt break, occasioned by the pandemic. Some clubs had to cut down on player wages, even as they grappled with the infection of some of their players. In some of these clubs, the entire first team players went down with the virus at the expense of the clubs’ financial resources.
Twenty of the continent’s biggest clubs suffered a cumulative loss of more than $1billion in revenue in the last one year, while almost 10 percent has been knocked off players’ average values with the game struggling with the economic impact of the pandemic. This is contained in a study by the market analyst, KPMG.
Parading some of the best healthcare systems in the world, European countries also witnessed mass deaths – especially in countries like Russia, Turkey, Italy and France – where their economies were also locked down for many months, leading to an abysmal drop in internally generated revenues. During that period, both the governments and the private sector struggled to put the scourge under control with many health workers having to pay the supreme price in the fight against the virus.
In spite of the bitter lessons the pandemic has taught us, there are however some good lessons we can learn from the whole experience. COVID-19 has demonstrated the fact that technology is key to the development of the world in almost all facets. The lockdown, occasioned by the pandemic, more than ever, made virtual conferencing platforms such as Zoom very popular and in high demand. Many corporate organisations did not necessarily have to lose their staff. Instead, they worked from home and still achieved the same, if not, better results.
That was one of the best gains the world recorded during the pandemic. This is another way to say that there is also a blessing in the pandemic as most workers didn’t have to spend money on transportation but still added value from their homes.
This also underscores the fact that if we can all apply the lessons we have learnt from the pandemic, the so-called third wave, which is already being felt in some countries, should not pose much of a challenge to us, as we continue to explore technology to make our lives even better, in the face of more virulent health emergencies yet to come.