18 votes

Silver lining to this pandemic?

I'm wondering if there could be a silver lining to this coronavirus pandemic, at least for the current generations.

Maybe everyone will be more careful in the future about spreading infectious diseases by practicing better hygiene e.g. coughing in the elbow, washing hands more often, considering staying home etc. And maybe the number of people accepting vaccines will increase? I'm willing to make a bet on that one: a modest increase. I'm also hoping we can shame all the hoarders after this is over and have a better understanding of how society functions via cooperation which might lead to more self awareness. This is not going to be the last pandemic let alone epidemic, so I also hope that more governments will be better prepared for future biological natural disasters, like how Taiwan and S Korea seem to be dealing with this rather well because of their previous history with SARS.

What does everyone else think? I don't expect this to last too long, maybe a decade or two, but that would still be a good thing.

24 comments

  1. Crocodile
    Link
    I think the coronavirus, instead of causing new events, is only accelerating them. The world will realize one of the many risks of putting all production in China. It is not really globalization...

    I think the coronavirus, instead of causing new events, is only accelerating them. The world will realize one of the many risks of putting all production in China. It is not really globalization if we concentrate it in one country. Hopefully, we start manufacturing stuff (especially those of national security like penicillin, masks, etc.) in our own countries. Something else that I predict will be accelerated, is lessening of demand and social activity. Perhaps people will realize they do not always need to go out to eat, they do not always need to buy more, and so on. Of course, the opposite effect could occur where people want stuff more than ever as they could not get it for months.

    Also, as mentioned by @skybrian, mask usage will probably be more "acceptable" in the west. Previously, if you wore a mask while sick, people would still look at you funny, at least from my experience.

    22 votes
  2. Icarus
    Link
    I hope more people are taking a critical look at our health care system as well as the obvious income inequality when it comes to health care in our country. I think in the end we will see more...

    I hope more people are taking a critical look at our health care system as well as the obvious income inequality when it comes to health care in our country. I think in the end we will see more favorable views towards expanding government funded healthcare in the US.

    12 votes
  3. [2]
    nothis
    Link
    I've been thinking it might finally shut down the Asian trade of wild/endangered animals. There's good reason to assume that it caused the spread (it did in the case of the 2002 SARS outbreak).

    I've been thinking it might finally shut down the Asian trade of wild/endangered animals. There's good reason to assume that it caused the spread (it did in the case of the 2002 SARS outbreak).

    10 votes
    1. UniquelyGeneric
      Link Parent
      I think it’s specifically the “wet” markets that need to be shut down. Open air slaughter and intermixing of species is the main vector for these viruses to cross species lines. As it was the case...

      I think it’s specifically the “wet” markets that need to be shut down. Open air slaughter and intermixing of species is the main vector for these viruses to cross species lines. As it was the case with SARS, China did nothing about the markets, and I’m not hopeful they will change anything since they are claiming a victory in controlling the spread in Wuhan (without addressing the source of the issue).

      7 votes
  4. [8]
    emdash
    Link
    In the macabre scenario where 3-6% of the world dies, mostly older people, what repercussions will that have on our progress to slow global warming? Will house prices go down? Will wealth become...

    In the macabre scenario where 3-6% of the world dies, mostly older people, what repercussions will that have on our progress to slow global warming? Will house prices go down? Will wealth become slightly less inequally distributed?

    So many interesting questions to pose.

    7 votes
    1. UniquelyGeneric
      Link Parent
      There's also the fact that conservative voters tend to skew older. There's already theories that voter suppression due to long lines caused lower turnout of certain demographics, and now primaries...

      There's also the fact that conservative voters tend to skew older. There's already theories that voter suppression due to long lines caused lower turnout of certain demographics, and now primaries have already been delayed, although it's unclear what the situation will be like at that time. With the US general election in November, this could very well be one of the most unpredictable elections we've seen in a long time. An election that was already bound to have global implications.

      9 votes
    2. thundergolfer
      Link Parent
      I think even absent the Coronavirus pandemic the death rate of the Baby Boomers and what's left of the Silent Generation is one of the most significant forces in the world today. Climate Change...

      I think even absent the Coronavirus pandemic the death rate of the Baby Boomers and what's left of the Silent Generation is one of the most significant forces in the world today.

      Climate Change action and Wealth redistribution will absolutely progress absent some large portion of the old voting base of the right wing. At least in the USA we can see that >80% of people younger than 35 were voting Sanders in these primaries, and >80% of people older than 65 were voting Biden.

      4 votes
    3. [5]
      envy
      Link Parent
      Last I saw, it is a presumed death rate of 0.87% 3-6% is based on incomplete testing.

      Last I saw, it is a presumed death rate of 0.87%

      3-6% is based on incomplete testing.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        AugustusFerdinand
        Link Parent
        There is no single case fatality rate for a disease – it is context-specific, changing with time, location, and patient age. In the earliest stages of the outbreak the CFR was much higher, 17.3%...

        There is no single case fatality rate for a disease – it is context-specific, changing with time, location, and patient age. In the earliest stages of the outbreak the CFR was much higher, 17.3% across China as a whole and greater than 20% in Wuhan.

        In the weeks that followed, the CFR declined as the standard of care evolved over the course of the outbreak. The CFR fell to 0.7% for patients with the onset of symptoms after February 1st. However this is the CFR for patients tested, confirmed, and treated; there are presently and will be more deaths because of lack of testing and treatment. True CFR numbers are unlikely to be known for years as the data is analyzed for overall death rates during this period and attributed to COVID despite not being confirmed cases.

        In the period up to and including 15th March 2020, the global Case Fatality Rate for COVID-19 are as follows:

        Case fatality rate globally = 3.7%
        [based on 153,523 confirmed cases and 5736 deaths]

        Case fatality rate in China: 3.9%
        [based on 81,038 confirmed cases and 3204 deaths]

        Case fatality rate for the rest of the world: 3.5%
        [based on 72,475 confirmed and 2532 deaths]

        9 votes
        1. envy
          Link Parent
          The Diamond Princess gave a fairly good estimate of the fatality rate, as so many people on the ship got tested.

          The Diamond Princess gave a fairly good estimate of the fatality rate, as so many people on the ship got tested.

          2 votes
        2. emdash
          Link Parent
          Italy is also faring quite badly because their population skews older, and are also only testing older people too.

          Italy is also faring quite badly because their population skews older, and are also only testing older people too.

      2. vektor
        Link Parent
        Seems to me more like it is can also be caused by an overwhelmed healthcare system.

        Seems to me more like it is can also be caused by an overwhelmed healthcare system.

        4 votes
  5. [6]
    skybrian
    Link
    I think there could be lots of interesting side effects. A trivial one might be that mask usage becomes more popular outside Asia. I'm a bit surprised people aren't making their own masks already....

    I think there could be lots of interesting side effects. A trivial one might be that mask usage becomes more popular outside Asia. I'm a bit surprised people aren't making their own masks already.

    Also, increased comfort and skill at video chat usage, more working from home, more online education, video doctor's appointments become routine, more shopping via drive-ins, curbside pickup and delivery, and so on.

    Prepping could go mainstream. Hopefully we won't be too silly about it.

    One downside: probably less use of public transportation.

    6 votes
    1. [5]
      JakeTheDog
      Link Parent
      What do you mean? Isn't the fad for wearing masks based on the misconception that it will improve the air quality (including airborne pathogens) for you? And it's also a fashion/culture thing for...

      A trivial one might be that mask usage becomes more popular outside Asia.

      What do you mean? Isn't the fad for wearing masks based on the misconception that it will improve the air quality (including airborne pathogens) for you? And it's also a fashion/culture thing for some...

      If you're sick enough to wear a mask, you should stay home or get help. It's likely that your cough is not the only mode of transmission (e.g. hands).

      3 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        It seems like it in a crowded area it might be better than covering your mouth when you cough, so good to do for anyone who is sick, has to go out (not always possible to avoid), and doesn't want...

        It seems like it in a crowded area it might be better than covering your mouth when you cough, so good to do for anyone who is sick, has to go out (not always possible to avoid), and doesn't want to spread germs.

        We don't do it here mostly because it's not our custom and it looks weird. But customs can change. It caught on in Asia, so why not here? This is speculation of course.

        2 votes
      2. Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        Yes. That's not why people are wearing masks. They're wearing masks because they think it'll stop them breathing in the dreaded coronavirus. They don't realise that most of the masks they're...

        What do you mean? Isn't the fad for wearing masks based on the misconception that it will improve the air quality (including airborne pathogens) for you?

        Yes.

        If you're sick enough to wear a mask, you should stay home or get help. It's likely that your cough is not the only mode of transmission (e.g. hands).

        That's not why people are wearing masks. They're wearing masks because they think it'll stop them breathing in the dreaded coronavirus. They don't realise that most of the masks they're wearing provide little to no protection against viruses, which tend to be smaller in size than the smoke particles most masks are designed for.

        After the current pandemic is over, some people will keep wearing face masks because they never know when the next pandemic will start. So, the fad might persist in non-Asian countries. We'll see more people wearing masks on the streets of New York, London, Sydney.

        2 votes
      3. [2]
        AnthonyB
        Link Parent
        I'm not totally sure if you're talking about fashionable masks that some people are wearing in the west or if you're talking about the surgeon masks that people are wearing in Asian countries. As...

        I'm not totally sure if you're talking about fashionable masks that some people are wearing in the west or if you're talking about the surgeon masks that people are wearing in Asian countries. As far as the latter is concerned, people wear masks regularly as a courtesy to others when they have a cold. I don't know how much that affects the transmission of viruses, but it is nice to know that their snotty face isn't out in the open. Most of my friends and I used to associate those masks with SARS and germaphobes and it was a little unsettling to see someone wear a mask like that in public. If the US didn't have a shortage of masks, people might feel more comfortable with them.

        2 votes
        1. grahamiam
          Link Parent
          Masks not only help stop the droplets, they also make you less likely to touch your nose or mouth which helps, and their omnipresence here in Taiwan helps keep prevention efforts in focus in...

          Masks not only help stop the droplets, they also make you less likely to touch your nose or mouth which helps, and their omnipresence here in Taiwan helps keep prevention efforts in focus in day-to-day life.

          Even if them stopping you from contracting the virus is a "myth," that myth existing makes it more likely for people who are infected but don't think they are infected to wear the mask, and it also helps prevent some sneezing/coughing droplets into public spaces, especially in situations where people might not be good about covering their mouths (carrying stuff, holding on in a bus, children who don't think about it).

          So yeah, I used to be a skeptic because the masks obviously don't stop the virus from entering, but I think they are still useful. The downside is that prior to the coronavirus, Taiwan had an attitude that if you had a cold, you still came to work and wore a mask and that was acceptable, which is obviously bad. Not that different from people coming to work with a cold in the US due to lack of PTO/healthcare access, though.

          4 votes
  6. UniquelyGeneric
    Link
    Similar to how my grandmother would save, reuse, and conserve everything due to growing up in the Great Depression, I imagine we might adopt some more hygienic habits and routines. However, if the...

    Similar to how my grandmother would save, reuse, and conserve everything due to growing up in the Great Depression, I imagine we might adopt some more hygienic habits and routines.

    However, if the extent of our reaction only lasts a few weeks/months, I fear we will slip back into old patterns of behavior when it’s all over. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, and if we manage to flatten the curve we’ll enough, there won’t be a noticeable crisis to imprint on people the importance. The Great Depression lasted years and extended poverty/lack of food could certainly leave an indelible mark on our collective psyche.

    I suspect the biggest takeaway would be improvements to the CDC and handling of infectious diseases. The coronavirus is acting as a stress test of our systems, exposing vulnerable points we have not adequately prepared for. Due to the relatively small death rate compared to more aggressive diseases (3% for coronavirus vs 60% for avian flu), hopefully we can recover from this better prepared to handle “the Big One”.

    6 votes
  7. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    Maybe they'll stop selling monkeys and wolf puppies in the market of Wuhan. Maybe Trump loses reelection because of his inadequate answer to the pandemic.

    Maybe they'll stop selling monkeys and wolf puppies in the market of Wuhan.

    Maybe Trump loses reelection because of his inadequate answer to the pandemic.

    3 votes
  8. AnthonyB
    Link
    We'll have to see how long this goes on and how much it will change everyday life over a long period of time. If things return to normal after two or three months, I don't think there will be any...

    We'll have to see how long this goes on and how much it will change everyday life over a long period of time. If things return to normal after two or three months, I don't think there will be any lasting impact on society. We have a remarkably short memory, and we tend to overvalue the historical implications of things as they're happening in the moment. The US government might take the CDC more seriously for a few election cycles and obviously there's a chance that the pandemic ends up being the tipping point for electing a democrat. Outside of those two things I don't feel confident making any predictions. We should probably look to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and maybe the oil crises of the 1970s to get an idea of how the lasting societal changes might look.

    3 votes
  9. [3]
    Kuromantis
    (edited )
    Link
    I think there are 3 big realizations that could come from this. 1:The virus has been known to have reached high members of society, like us senators and the first lady of canada. This might make...

    I think there are 3 big realizations that could come from this.

    1:The virus has been known to have reached high members of society, like us senators and the first lady of canada. This might make people realize politicians are people who can die or fall sick.

    2:The reason people and the economy are reacting so badly to the virus might be interpreted to be 'Because old people who travel a lot (like wealthy businessmen and politicians) are most at risk of death'. If so, then a lot more people will take class consience seriously.

    3: if rural/conservative america and other countries who share that ideology actually get the virus in a mass scale they might realize that trump and their conservative leaders are bad at their jobs and might consider stuff like universal healthcare, although I feel as if they might treat it as a one-off mistake from them even if they literally get a lung infection and breathing trouble similar to having pneumonia.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      emdash
      Link Parent
      Unfortunately I don't think any of the groups of people you describe have enough introspection or critical thought to consider any of this.

      Unfortunately I don't think any of the groups of people you describe have enough introspection or critical thought to consider any of this.

      8 votes
      1. Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        Admittedly I acknowledge that for the third one and the first one is half a dogwhistle for 'I wouldn't be surprised if a lot more people try to "take matters into their own hands and do it...

        Admittedly I acknowledge that for the third one and the first one is half a dogwhistle for 'I wouldn't be surprised if a lot more people try to "take matters into their own hands and do it themselves", although the effort needed to suceed today would be much higher. The second one is also probably tainted with a lack of context.

        1 vote