3 unexpected ways COVID has changed the world

Jan 27, 2022
Category: World News

The pandemic is clearly far from over. There is a growing sense of restlessness about COVID restrictions, especially in the West, and the British government is winding restrictions down, but this seems motivated more by a sense of boredom than by any compelling scientific evidence that these measures are no longer necessary. COVID still presents a significant danger to health.

Not only that, but COVID will have several long-term effects on the global social and political landscape, and it is possible that the full force of these effects will not be felt for some time. The effects will be many. But perhaps the most significant of them can be summed up as follows:

 

Hunger

Global hunger is at an unprecedented level. The UN estimates that 283 million people are now short of food. A combination of conflict, extreme weather and rising global food prices have contributed to food shortages and supply problems, and COVID has exacerbated these issues. Staple foods including rice, maize and flour are very expensive in many communities in the global south – and increasing in price.

The scale of the problem has been noted by international development charities, including World Vision and Compassion, and commentators, including The New Humanitarian, predict that the situation will only get worse, with 45 million people on the brink of famine unless decisive action is taken. In fact, this is part of an even wider problem, whereby COVID has had the greatest impact on the world’s poor, forcing millions into poverty and increasing the economic gap between the haves and have-nots.

 

Health

UNAIDS has recently released a very enlightening report on the effects of inequalities on treating and preventing the spread of HIV. The combined impact of HIV and COVID is particularly stark. UNAIDS’ findings are far more nuanced than a short piece like this can convey, but its most salient points are:

- People living with HIV are statistically twice as likely than others to die of COVID.

- People living with HIV are also far less likely to be able to access COVID vaccinations.

- The COVID pandemic has severely disrupted HIV testing.

We strongly suspect that millions more people, living with other pre-existing health conditions, will have been affected by COVID in similar ways.

 

Extremist politics

As The New Humanitarian observes, COVID has resulted in economic crisis, with millions of people falling below the poverty line. Combine this with widespread dissatisfaction at how sitting governments have handled the pandemic, and the result is that increasing numbers of people are willing to give a sympathetic ear to extremist politicians, especially if they promise a fairer distribution of power and income. The danger, of course, is that a significant number of these extremists might gain power and have the chance to put their agendas into practice.

BCT continues to pray about all three of these issues and we are committed to doing everything we can to address them. We hope this article also helps you, in terms of informing your prayers and prompting you to reflect on how else you might be able to make a difference.

Note: This article has drawn on several sources, but is particularly indebted to The New Humanitarian’s recent article, ‘Ten humanitarian crises and trends to watch in 2022’ and to UNAIDS’ report, ‘Confronting Inequalities’, published in July 2021.

 

(Image: Miroslava Chrienova on pixabay.)

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