Many people wonder if we will go back to normal after the pandemic, it’s a question people are increasingly asking as the lockdown starts to lift, many think things will change perhaps for the better, but one thing is for certain we will all take the threat of a global pandemic and its associated impact on the worlds economy and people a lot more seriously after the events of the last few months.
Many of you will have watched the TED talk given by Bill Gates in 2015 talking about the threat of a virus and a pandemic to the world, he has been proven to be right, but his call for action was largely ignored at the time it was made, by those in power and we went into the current crisis seriously underprepared.
One of the actions that the British government could take is to take a lead in the call for a global response to any future pandemic that we may face. As a child, I’m showing my age here, I was brought up watching Thunderbirds, International rescue and perhaps a global organisation like that with the ability to manage resources and get people and equipment in place is not such a fanciful idea and may not belong in the realms of science fiction.
We have a lot of technology at our fingertips, from satellites to cell phones and we could focus some of that technology on the means of identifying and tracking future outbreaks, with the tools and the people to be able to give us up to date accurate and usable information to combat any future disease, which may not always be in the easiest to reach or technologically advanced places on earth.
Perhaps now is a time for big fanciful ideas, we could re-introduce national service, but instead of training for war perhaps we could train our young citizens in the medical issues and the skills we would need in case of another pandemic. Then if the worst does happen we could build up our own body of reserves who could be called up when needed and could go through additional training in future years to keep their skills up to date.
In terms of resources like tests, masks, respirators, gloves and gowns, we need to identify those companies and suppliers who can produce these resources, but also those companies who can change their production process quickly and stop producing their usual products and start producing the resources we need, Dyson and the Formula One teams producing respirators is a good example.
We also have great medical research teams in this country but are we prepared to get them working together to quickly produce vaccines, we have existing processes but what if we need to fast track solutions, can we do it?, do we have the resources and people? So, some serious investment in research and development is needed to make sure we can fast track solutions and cures if the situation arises.
The Government would have to invest both time and money to make this happen, but we have seen the impact of coronavirus on the UK, its people and its economy and this is a worldwide issue, so it is not a case of if we do it, we must do it. We spend 38 billion pounds on defence, but we are not an empire anymore and I would suggest the risk of invasion or attack is less than the risk posed by a pandemic like the one we are experiencing. Could the military be given a new role as well as its existing function, develop their medical skills and talents, and they have the logistical expertise to get people and equipment around the world as well as a well trained range of people and expertise to get things done.
We need to work on a global scale, global issues require global solutions, so we need to get our own house in order but make sure we have a global response to future issues like another pandemic. We need to work productively with other countries around the world in a friendly and unselfish manner, we are all occupants of the same planet and need to recognize that, if we don’t, we all lose!
While I wouldn’t suggest for a moment I am an expert or have a solution here, but times like these require new thinking, we need to challenge what we have done before and seek new innovative ideas to the ever changing world we find ourselves living in.