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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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We will adapt

18 May 2020

COVID-19 has changed the world.

Yep, can't argue with that statement. Things are not as they were, that's for sure.

However, I do find it a little difficult to believe the claims that it will be "years" before we see air-travel return to previous levels and even harder to believe the assertions that we will never see it's return to those halcion days of the early 21st century.

To behonest, I think the whole thing is somewhat overstated.

I really can't see the human race holing up and cowering in fear of CV19 for too much longer.

Do I think we should relax our border controls or pretend the risk doesn't exist?

Of course not, but I do think that the doomsayers have gotten a little out of hand, and here's why.

There are a number of scenarios that will relieve the current fear, uncertainty and doubt.

The first, and most obvious one, is that we develop an effective vaccine.

If we are able to immunise the population, or at least the higher-risk members of that population, CV becomes an irrelevance -- in the same way that few of us are really concerned about catching other diseases against which we've been immunised.

The second scenario is the gradual development of herd immunity.

This is what Sweden has tried to create right from the get-go. Instead of hiding out in front of a 24/7 stream of Neflix programming, Sweden has basically said "take your chances" and life continues almost as normal in that country. Yes, a large number of people are dying -- but an even larger number are gaining immunity through exposure. Within a relatively small amount of time, herd immunity will significantly reduce the spread of the virus in that country -- albeit at a huge toll to the elderly and infirmed.

The third scenario is lockdown-fatigue.

Already we're seeing that in many countries (especially the USA and UK), the general population has had a guts-full of being locked down. Increasing numbers are clearly willing to take their chances with the virus and are ignoring lockdown rules in full awareness of the risks they take and create for others. Even if neither of the other scenarios come to pass, this one would be a certainty. Eventually even the most staunch administration will have to conceded that a nation can't remain in lockdown forever or its economy will totally collapse.

So, with all these alternatives in mind, I'm picking that within a year or so, it'll be "business as usual" on planet Earth.

Air travel will be back to (or close to) pre-CV19 levels and, even if the virus remains a threat, it will be treated just like the risk of being killed in a car crash -- ie: ever-present but not something one consiously thinks of on a regular basis.

CV19 will become just another of the many dangers we accept in every-day life. Without an effective vaccine, people will continue to die from CV19 and in time it might even reduce the average life-expectency of humans - but we will learn to live with it and no longer be as fearful as we are now.

The human race has proven to extremely adept at facing challenges and, where no solution can be found to those challenges, simply accepting them as a part of life. And so it will be with CV19.

Or will it?

What's your take on this? Will we still be cowering in fear of the CV19 virus in 12 month's time or will we have adapted? To the comments with you!

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