Undisputedly, disruptions from the COVID‐19 pandemic have immensely dented global economies, with a multiplier effect felt from factories in China to falling global stock and commodity prices, spread to other major parts of the world’s economy.
Beyond its economic implications, the crisis also endangers individual and collective health, emotional, and social functioning, with the imposition of unfamiliar safety measures such as stay-at-home orders, quarantine, and isolation, all of which violate personal freedoms, coupled with large and growing financial losses.
As of Saturday May 9, 2020, COVID-19 had infected over four million people and killed over 276,000. But amid the woes, measures taken by governments all over the world to contain the spread of the disease and ultimately find its cure has led to some positive spillovers worth noting.
With countries now gradually opening up and most economies resuming activity, here are some positive effects from the ongoing pandemic – stemming from the nationwide lockdowns and other strict health measures been enforced globally.
A cleaner world
The lockdowns have seen global greenhouse gas emissions drop significantly.
Under measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus over the last few months, local businesses have been shut, factories closed, social movement restricted, and transportation brought to a halt.
As the burning of fossil fuels reduces, carbon footprint has lessened and air quality has improved significantly. The impact will be felt worldwide. For instance, researchers say up to 100,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution in China could be avoided if the country’s economic slowdown continues at its current rate over the next year.
More so, canals and oceans across major cities in the world have benefited from the global lockdowns, escaping the usual and constant pollution from everyday human activity. They have never been cleaner.
At the individual level, most people forget to wash their hands as often as necessary, perhaps because of a hectic lifestyle. But part of safety precautions to keep the coronavirus at bay requires improved hygiene such as the consistent washing of hands. This habit will most likely remain in people’s lives long after the pandemic is over.
People are likely to wash their hands frequently and correctly while sanitizing surfaces may be a larger priority. Consequently, physical well-being will be better maintained.
Private sector rise to a social cause
With government resources under strain as public health officials ramp up efforts to test more people and provide care for coronavirus patients, the private sector in many countries, particularly African nations, have stepped up to help fight the public health disaster.
Nigeria’s private sector, one of the most affluent in Africa, has made significant financial contributions, through the special fund set up by the country’s central bank, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the continent’s most populous and largest economy.
In addition to billions of dollars donated, many corporate organizations have switched from their core business activity to producing materials needed – ventilators, sanitizers, personal protective equipment, etc – to support governments in the battle against the coronavirus outbreak.
A catalyst for digital transformation
The widespread disruption of global economic and individual activity has forced many companies to speed up their pace of digital transformation.
The pandemic has changed the perception of what used to be seen among businesses as competitive threats from tech-savvy industry disruptors, and pushed everyone toward digital transformation across many sectors in different countries – from the use of autonomous vehicles in delivery of goods in China to the adoption of online classrooms and educational platforms by schools and universities in Africa.