Sample Research Paper: The World with COVID-19

Research PaperEconomics
Oct 10, 2022

A research paper is a type of written project that discusses a specific topic. While it is very similar to and indeed overlaps with an essay, its main feature is the use of information from scholarly sources to support the thesis statement . This sample research paper looks into some of the factors that have allowed countries to adjust to a post-COVID world as well as some of the inequalities that emerged due to the unequal distribution of resources.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan in China, little did people know just how much the world would be changed by this virus. For the next two years, billions held their breath as the virus spread across borders and infected hundreds of millions. According to the World Health Organization [WHO], there have been over 617.5 million cases of COVID-19 (WHO, 2022). The pandemic also caused widespread death across the world. The delta variant, for instance, wreaked havoc and caused thousands of deaths in India alone . The WHO reports that more than 6.5 million lives have been claimed by the disease (WHO, 2022). And beyond causing illness and deaths, the impact of the pandemic on the global economy was staggering. The pandemic prompted governments to shut down borders in a bid to control the rate of infection and in the process paralyzed industries including manufacturing, international travel, and tourism. But now that almost three years have passed since the virus first appeared and great strides have been made in recovering from the ravages of the pandemic. Adjusting to a post-COVID world has greatly relied on mass vaccination of an unprecedented scale, easing of borders, and fundamental changes to how organizations operate.

Coming Out of the Pandemic

The transition to a post-COVID world likely began with the emergence of the omicron variant. When the omicron variant of COVID-19 emerged in late 2021, scientists hypothesized that the world was entering the latter stages of the pandemic. This was because omicron was determined to be less virulent than previous variants of the COVID-19 virus (Zimmer & Jacobs, 2022). The emergence of omicron and other similar variants likely means that COVID will continue to be passed but will no longer cause the same damage as when the virus first appeared in 2019. But like other diseases that started out as pandemics, COVID-19 is unlikely to ever disappear. Instead, scientists believe that it will become an endemic disease that sees fluctuations in the number of those infected depending on a number of factors (Orent, 2020). Influenza, for instance, is an endemic disease that occurs year-round. It is also a seasonal disease in that the number of those infected rises in certain months, especially in the cold weather of winter. But certain strains of influenza also began as pandemics. For instance, some strains of the influenza virus today are descendants of the original virus that caused the Spanish flu in 1918 (Roy, 2021). Over time, that virus evolved into a more contagious but less virulent form. Scientists believe that COVID-19 will likely go down the same path.

Given that COVID is likely here to stay, it becomes necessary for the world to find ways to adapt in order to facilitate economic recovery. The Kaiser Family Foundation, for instance, reports that the median global gross domestic product declined by 3.9% between 2019 and 2022 (Oum, 2022) while the International Monetary Fund [IMF] estimates that the pandemic’s total economic cost could reach $12.5 trillion by 2024 (Shalal, 2022). These losses stemmed from the pandemic’s massively paralyzing effect on industries, a fact that highlights the urgent need for steps to transition to a post-COVID world. The succeeding sections discuss how mass vaccination, opening of borders, and changes to business operations became three of the ways by which the world coped.

Mass Vaccination

At the center of the transition to a post-COVID world is mass vaccination on a global scale. Even at the start of the pandemic, scientists already knew that vaccines would play a key role in ending the crisis. And thus governments and pharmaceutical companies raced against time to develop effective vaccines. By January 2020, scientists from various countries had successfully sequenced the virus’ genome, thus paving the way for vaccine research (WHO, 2020). What followed was the simultaneous development of highly effective vaccines by various organizations and companies including Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca among others. Studies showed that these vaccines are safe and have efficacy rates higher than 90% (Brussow, 2020; Luchsinger & Hillyer, 2021; Olliaro, 2021). Countries then launched a massive drive to vaccinate as many people as possible, with special attention to the most vulnerable populations like healthcare providers, frontline workers, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. According to current data, the world has given more than 12.7 billion shots of COVID-19 vaccine. The United States alone has given over 613 million doses of the vaccine (Bloomberg, 2022). The past two years saw the biggest vaccination drive in history. The vaccination of people has helped prevent the spread of the disease and reduce the number of deaths caused by the pandemic. However, it is important to note that the protection offered by the vaccine wanes over time, which means that booster shots might be required in the coming years. 

Opening of Borders

The success of the global drive to vaccinate as many people as possible made possible the opening of borders. In the early days of the pandemic, countries were forced to close their borders in order to prevent the rapid spread of the disease. The closing of the borders, in turn, had a huge negative impact on numerous industries. Tourism, for instance, took a massive hit because the influx of tourists in many countries came to a complete halt. The airline industry also suffered losses due to the sharp decline in the number of passengers. It also became more difficult to conduct business. Meanwhile, organizations that relied on the global supply chain suffered massive losses due to disruptions in the flow of materials and goods. But as the pandemic waned, countries began to open their borders to tourists. For instance, more countries opened their borders in early 2022 following the opening of some countries in 2021. Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines opened their borders to tourists. Travel restrictions were eased, thereby allowing tourists to cross borders without experiencing the stress and hassle of keeping up with numerous requirements (Pitrelli, 2022). Meanwhile, even countries that had implemented stricter border control measures have begun to open up. Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan, for instance, have also begun to ease restrictions in a bid to attract more tourists. Tourism brought significant revenue to these countries before the pandemic, and thus opening their borders to tourists is essential to their economic recovery (Voice of America, 2022). However, it is important to note that border control remains stricter than at pre-pandemic levels. For instance, some countries require tourists to be fully vaccinated.

Changes to Business Operations

Finally, the world has also coped with COVID-19 by changing the way organizations conduct business. When the pandemic hit, companies were forced to shift to a work-from-home setup. Employees were allowed to work at home, especially those whose jobs do not require being physically present in the workplace. This was done to continue operations without compromising the health of employees. Collaborative activities such as meetings and conferences were all conducted online. As the world opened up, many began to implement a hybrid arrangement, which is characterized by greater flexibility and the freedom to spend some days working at home instead of in the workplace.

The need to shift to a work-from-home setup, in turn, brought some lasting changes. For one, many businesses have come to recognize the benefits of giving employees the freedom to work from home. Studies show that contrary to the prevailing notion that working from home stifles creativity, employees actually spend less time being unproductive at home than at the office (Fox, 2022). Furthermore, many organizations have come to recognize the value of providing comprehensive benefits packages to employees to increase talent retention. The pandemic served as a comprehensive test of how well businesses treated their employees and, as shown by the mass resignation that occurred from 2020 to 2022, organizations that fail to prioritize their employees’ welfare are bound to suffer high turnover rates (Ellerbeck, 2022). As McKinsey & Company notes, businesses simply have to accept that the pandemic has changed the world and businesses must adapt if they are to survive (Craven et al., 2022).

An Unequal World

While the world has begun to move on from the pandemic, it is important to note that progress is not the same for all countries. Some countries have been able to recover more swiftly than others. One factor that has contributed to this unequal vaccine distribution. By and large, wealthier countries had greater access to vaccines than developing countries. For instance, developed countries were able to place orders for vaccines even before clinical trials were concluded. Furthermore, there were cases of some countries storing vaccines beyond the amount their populations need, thus receiving not unfounded accusations of hoarding (Rydland et al., 2022). Current data reveals that indeed wealthy countries have been able to vaccinate the majority of their population much faster than developing countries. More affluent regions like Europe, North America, East Asia, and even South America and Southeast Asia have far higher rates of vaccination, with around 60% to over 90% of the population fully vaccinated. By contrast, most countries in Africa have much lower rates of full vaccination that range from less than 5% to 50% (Holder, 2022). Ultimately, lower rates of vaccination mean a slower pace of recovery.

Countries that have lower rates of vaccination are bound to have more difficulty reconnecting with the rest of the world and reintegrating into the global economy. As the World Bank notes, not only has the pandemic exacerbated inequality; but its negative impact on low-income countries will also accrue, thus setting these countries back in the long run (Adarov, 2022). For instance, low-income countries were slower to cope with the disruptions in the education system caused by the pandemic. These learning losses will accrue and in turn lead to losses in the collective productivity of affected cohort groups in the future (Hanushek & Woessmann, 2020). In the end, pre-existing inequalities as well as unequal distribution of resources among developed and developing nations will certainly lead to different paces of recovery.

Conclusion

Three years have passed since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and the world has made great strides in recovering from its effects. Adjusting to the new realities of the post-COVID world has not been easy. Apart from requiring the biggest vaccine drive in history, countries have had to slowly ease border restrictions that were in place for years. Businesses also found new ways of conducting operations including adopting hybrid working arrangements and revising employee benefits. But while the darkest days of the pandemic seem to be behind, recovery has not progressed at the same pace. Inequalities between high-income and low-income nations that have existed even before COVID emerged were exacerbated by the global health crisis, thus rendering developing nations more vulnerable to the long-term consequences of the pandemic . Although the pandemic certainly gave the world a reason to collaborate, it also laid bare many of the fundamental issues related to wealth discrepancy that requires attention.

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References

Adarov, A. (2022, February 7). Global income inequality and the COVID-19 pandemic in three charts . World Bank. https://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/global-income-inequality-and-covid-19-pandemic-three-charts

Bloomberg. (2022, October 7). More than 12.7 billion shots given: COVID-19 tracker. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/covid-vaccine-tracker-global-distribution/

Brussow, H. (2021). mRNA vaccines against COVID-19: a showcase for the importance of microbial biotechnology. Microbial Biotechnology, 15 (1), 135-148. https://doi.org/10.1111/1751-7915.13974,

Craven, M., Staples, M., & Wilson, M. (2022, March 11). Ten lessons from the first two years of COVID-19 . McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/ten-lessons-from-the-first-two-years-of-covid-19 

Ellerbeck, S. (2022, June 24). The Great Resignation is not over: A fifth of workers plan to quit in 2022 . World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/06/the-great-resignation-is-not-over/

Fox, J. (2022, June 2). Are worker more productive at home? Bloomberg. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-06-02/are-workers-more-productive-at-home?

Hanushek, E. A. & Woessmann, L. (2020). The economic impact of learning losses . Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. https://www.oecd.org/education/The-economic-impacts-of-coronavirus-covid-19-learning-losses.pdf

Holder, J. (2022, October 10). Tracking coronavirus vaccinations around the world. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-vaccinations-tracker.html

Luchsinger, L.L. & Hillyer, C.D. (2021). Vaccine efficacy probable against COVID-19 variants. Science 371(3564), 1116. DOI: 10.1126/science.abg9461

Olliaro, P. (2021). What does 95% COVID-19 vaccine efficacy really mean. The Lancet 21(6), 769. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(21)00075-X

Orent, W. (2020, November 16). Will the coronavirus evolve to be less deadly? Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/will-coronavirus-evolve-be-less-deadly-180976288/

Oum, S. (2022, February 7). Economic impact of COVID-19 on PEFAR countries . Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.reuters.com/business/imf-sees-cost-covid-pandemic-rising-beyond-125-trillion-estimate-2022-01-20/

Pitrelli, M. B. (2022, February 10). More countries reopen to travelers, signaling a big shift in pandemic thinking. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/10/australia-new-zealand-bali-malaysia-philippines-reopen-for-travel.html

Roy, J. (2021, December 23). Will this pandemic ever end? Here’s what happened with the last ones. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-12-23/will-the-pandemic-ever-end-heres-what-happened-with-the-last-ones

Rydland, H. T., Friedman, J., Stringhini, S., Link, B. G., & Eikemo, T. A. (2022). The radically unequal distribution of Covid-19 vaccinations: a predictable yet avoidable symptom of the fundamental causes of inequality. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9(61). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-022-01073-z

Shalal, A. (2022, January 21). IMF sees cost of COVID pandemic rising beyond $12.5 trillion estimate . International Monetary Fund. https://www.reuters.com/business/imf-sees-cost-covid-pandemic-rising-beyond-125-trillion-estimate-2022-01-20/

Voice of America. (2022, September 22). Japan to ease COVID border controls to boost tourism. https://www.voanews.com/a/japan-to-ease-covid-border-controls-to-boost-tourism/6759821.html

World Health Organization. (2022). WHO coronavirus (COVID-19) dashboard. https://covid19.who.int/

World Health Organization. (2020). Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation report – 1 . https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200121-sitrep-1-2019-ncov.pdf

Zimmer, C. & Jacobs, A. (2022, January 3). Omicron: What we know about the new coronavirus variant. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/article/omicron-coronavirus-variant.html

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