The COVID-19 pandemic has changed daily life significantly.
With a surge in cases this summer and no effective treatment or vaccine yet available, will those changes — like working from home and wearing a mask — become the norm?
“A lot of people (are) coming to the conclusion that a lot more can be done online than people thought. Even doctors are doing tele-consulting,” said Jerome Glenn, CEO and executive director of The Millennium Project, a global think-tank of futurists, scientists, business leaders and policymakers.
“I think a lot of people were thinking about and wanting to learn more and get more engaged in telehealth as a provider, because we knew the interest without there. And this really forced us to step up our game quick,” said Dr. Allison Bartlett, a pediatrician and associate professor of the pediatrics section of infectious diseases at University of Chicago Medicine.
“I think that the telehealth advances are going to stay and we’re going to get smarter about which visits need to be in person and which ones don’t, and leverage the benefits of remote visits,” she said.
What do the experts think the world will look like after COVID-19?
“I don’t know if we’ll ever be post-COVID,” said Glenn. “We’re not post-HIV/AIDS. We’re in better shape with it, but we’re not out of the woods with it.”
COVID-19, unlike HIV, is not with anyone for life, Bartlett pointed out, even though “we may get it again and again. So it’s not like once you get COVID you have COVID forever,” she said.
“Is it going to be there in the population affecting all of us over time? Yes, quite likely,” she said. “Is there going to be a treatment or something that works to mitigate symptoms or a vaccine that either keeps us from being infected at all or leads to infections being less severe? Those are all things that we are very hopeful about, but we also don’t have experience about whether people can get infected again. And if there are second infections, if they are less severe.
“So there’s a lot of unknowns, but I suspect it’s not realistic to think that we’re going to be done with COVID anytime soon,” Bartlett said.