The Pfizer announcement has renewed hope that the new normal will soon be lifted. Meanwhile, Oxford University says its own vaccine might be ready before the end of the year. What will this mean for 2021? Can we go back to our lives before the pandemic, or are masks and social distancing here to stay?
A vaccine will not erase the changes to our daily livesShow moreShow less
A COVID-19 vaccine will certainly help us rebuild our economy and autonomy. But some of the changes we've seen this year may be permanent.
After months of restrictions, life has effectively changed for all of us. Wearing masks, and indeed, seeing people wear them has become the norm.
This kind of behavior was common in many Asian countries even before COVID-19. These behaviors have been traced back to previous epidemics in these nations. In the early 2000s, the SARS and MERS pandemics in Asia raised awareness and highlighted the importance of a quick response and contagion prevention. These have been seen as some of the factors behind their lower death toll compared to Western nations.
Having dealt with other coronavirus in the last decades, Asian nations have much to teach their Western counterparts. Maybe wearing masks to prevent the spread of diseases and protect the people around us will be one of the things we learn from this pandemic.
Western countries saw an epidemic in the 1920s. During that time, there was a pushback against mask wearing, not dissimilar to what we are seeing this year. In Western countries, the last epidemic did not encourage mask wearing to become commonplace. It is unlikely that this one will.