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Covid-19: Some lessons to be learned from the mid-term review (March 2020-March 2021)

Covid-19: Some lessons to be learned from the mid-term review (March 2020-March 2021)

By Mr. Mohammed Taher SBIHI(*).

From a scientific and technological point of view

Telecoms networks and information technology have enabled humans to develop resistance to the pandemic. The last time a virus was so devastating was in 1918, when the famous Spanish flu broke out. At that time, there were barely 13 million landline telephones in the world, for a world population of 1.86 billion. Of these 13 million terminals, 9 million were in service in the USA. No television or radio station existed at the time. While today, 70% of the world population (totaling 7.8 billion) is equipped with a mobile phone and more than 50% of this population has a smartphone, with access to various services of the Internet. During the first year of Covid-19, people thus had the particularity of living in two different worlds: the physical and the virtual; whereas in 1918, humanity lived only in the first world!

Today, therefore, we must live more digitally, and access to digital technology must now be considered as a priority service, a public service in its own right, such as conventional supplies like electricity, gas or drinking water.

The digital revolution has made a big difference. In 1918, it was unthinkable that administrations, businesses and schools could operate remotely. However, with the outbreak of Covid-19, teleworking and online learning have become a daily reality, even unavoidable. Likewise, the generalization of digitization, already initiated before this health crisis, is maintained at a sustained pace and in all areas.

There is no doubt that Man has finally understood that it is in his interest to manage systems, risks, emergencies and crisis situations, in multidisciplinary groups (collective intelligence) and by relying on decision-making processes and collaborative tools, supported by artificial intelligence.

To this end, big data will be a major asset for those who produce and master it. The most efficient ones will make the world of tomorrow. However, the issue of protecting digital infrastructures is resurfacing. Indeed, without these protection and maintenance devices, it is recognized that this infrastructure could easily collapse.

In terms of global strategies and economic policy

Several certainties chanted yesterday have been shaken. Indeed, the economic shock and the global and multisectoral recession caused by the pandemic, revealed the extreme vulnerability of globalization, presented so far as triumphant.

The Covid-19 has shed light on the limits of liberalism. Market rules alone can no longer rule the world: State interventionism has become beneficial for regulating markets and correcting shortcomings of liberalism (reduction of sectorial and regional inequalities and disparities, ecosystem protection and health crisis management). There is no longer any doubt today that reducing the socio-economic divide is the exclusive responsibility of the state. Its entire strategy should henceforth be deployed around a selective and subtle mix of “regulated liberalism”. The protectionist and interventionist policies of yesteryear, which are simply no longer a part of the annals of history, are imposed today more than ever.

The first year of Covid-19 was also an opportunity to become aware of the regional neighborhood value, as a common good, which is likely to promote growth possibilities, to reduce dependence on “big countries” and to strengthen the negotiating power of emerging countries.

The imperative to promote cooperation between states, to group together in regional poles and to establish multilateral partnerships, winners on both sides, has resumed its importance.

Internally and at the country level, the pandemic has particularly made decision-makers aware of the importance of investing more in the areas of public health (medical research and digital medicine among others) and on education, respectively for equality of care and knowledge. Decision-makers’ awareness are raised to the need to further develop fundamental research, ecosystem protection and warning systems. The concern to expand the sphere of artificial intelligence and innovation to achieve this has become paramount in this time of crisis.

On the social and cultural level

Throughout the health ordeal, vulnerability, social tension, and psychological suffering were observed among billions of people. These individual and collective suffering is due to the wave of unemployment and underemployment, following the economic doldrums, but also are due to the harshness of the population lockdown measures.

In the aftermath of Covid-19, Man realized that the terrestrial globe, which shelters him, is in fact only a village, that geographical distances, however no matter how far from each other, are reduced to nothing thanks to NITC, that the most sophisticated technological innovations are not infallible in the presence of crisis situations, that everyone’s health is a common good to be preserved. Thus, despite the progress made by mankind for centuries, man has realized that he is inherently vulnerable and may always remain so.

In conclusion, after the Spanish War and the Second World War, humanity had not known such a brutal upheaval as that of Covid-19. The international community has known unbounded suffering. But, taken as a whole, it has shown a certain resilience in times of hardship, yet with the awareness of the need for a better intercommunity solidarity to face, together, the challenges of today and of tomorrow.

(*): Mohammed Taher SBIHI, academic and researcher in management

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