Impacts of COVID-19: lessons and strategies for the future

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Heloise Buchaim Antunes and Ms. Denise Doarte Guimarães, two third-year medical student at UniCesumar, Brazil. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way of life of the entire population. The streets started to be completely empty, several companies acquired the home office in their routine and there was an intense demand for health services. Some measures have been implemented to try to stop the spread of the disease, such as the closing of places with a large flow of people (for example, schools, bars, religious events), mandatory use of masks and hand hygiene. All this change in people’s life habits generated great impacts on some topics of society, such as social inequality, the increase in consumption and the relationship between man and nature, resulting in lessons and learnings for the future.

Firstly, the pandemic’s experience exacerbated the social inequality already present worldwide, since populations who are socio-economically deprived have less access to the health system, in addition to being more exposed to the virus because they face public transportation and, due to their low level of education, have jobs that are difficult to adapt to remote work. Proof of this is that American statistics have shown higher mortality among blacks, historically more socially vulnerable individuals. In addition, the financial uncertainty to which they are subjected interferes with mental health and, consequently, increases stress, decreasing the immunological resistance against infections, such as SARS-CoV-2.

Secondly, along with social isolation, the importance of cell phones and computers has increased due to the need of adapting to the moment. People started using these means more often to work, study, order delivery services, contact family members and seek out hobbies, and online purchases of superfluous products have increased dramatically. This consumerism is directly linked to the mental health of the population and the need to seek some form of comfort in times of crisis.

As well, one of the biggest causes of the emergence of new diseases is the imbalance in the relationship between man and the environment. The rampant consumption of food from animal sources and deforestation are major contributors to the disharmony of nature. One example of this imbalance is the coronavirus itself, which has lived in nature for years, but urbanization in the region has made bats and humans more in contact, exposing the population to contagion.

In view of the aforementioned impacts, some lessons could have been learned by the world population, such as the relevance of generating more public policies for the most vulnerable classes, studying the relationship between human beings and technology in times of crisis and the importance of maintaining a harmonious relationship with nature. However, there was a lack of collective cooperation, both from authorities and from the population, for these measures to become successful, which culminated in the emergence of the third wave of COVID-19.

References

Khanna RC, Cicinelli MV, Gilbert SS, Honavar SG, Murthy GSV. COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons learned and future directions. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2020; 68(5): 703-710. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_843_20.

Krouse HJ. COVID-19 and the Widening Gap in Health Inequity. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020; 163(1): 65-66. doi: 10.1177/0194599820926463.

Patel JA, Nielsen FBH, Badiani AA, et al. Poverty, inequality and COVID-19: the forgotten vulnerable. Public Health. 2020; 183:110-111. doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2020.05.006.

About the author

Heloise Buchaim Antunes is a third-year medical student at UniCesumar, a board member of the Academic League of Mental Health of UniCesumar (LASMUC) and a board member of the Academic League of Medical Semiology of Maringá (LASEMM).

Denise Doarte Guimarães is a third-year medical student at UniCesumar, a board member of IFMSA Brazil UniCesumar and a board member of the Academic League of Medical Clinic of Maringá (LACMMA).

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