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Book Review: Pandemic Aftermath (How Coronavirus Changes Global Society) by Trond Undheim

Pandemic Aftermath (How Coronavirus Changes Global Society) by Trond Undheim is a well-thought-out and well-researched book on the current crises of Covid 19, also known as Coronavirus. Mixed with facts, stats, and future scenarios – at times the book sounds part dystopian, and many a time it looks like a futuristic book.

Be it any time or era, one of the peculiar characteristics of any pandemic is that it creates an environment of fear, grief, hopelessness, and tension for a longer time. Therefore, societies are bound to change. This book (Pandemic Aftermath) that runs over 450 pages is basically about Coronavirus. The book counts all possibilities that this pandemic is bound to leave on us. However, Trond is not anxious about future predictions, in fact he has done a tremendous research to recount the previous pandemics, as in how they changed the world’s all layers.

The book kick starts with a solid introduction about pandemics of yesteryears like the Black Death of 13th century, and influenza of 1918. The introduction indicates that Coronavirus may follow the same path.

After introduction, there are total 9 chapters, and towards the end of every chapter comes some DIY and exercises for easy learning. As a reader, initially, you would feel a lot going about the current crises i.e. it covers the starting point from Wuhan to some lock downs across the world till May 2020. In the current situation, the author has given much focus on China – its role in the spreading virus, alerting the world, economy amidst the chaos. Well, that part is known to millions owing to the news world.

At one point you may feel that the book came a bit earlier…hold on…but today as you reflect on the past, the veracity of the book may sound extra courageous. Deep inside the soul of the book, there are five strong assumptions with many scenarios, sounding real yet fictional. Let’s look at them briefly:

The Borderless World:

This is the first assumption, built on one world, without the need of borders or visa or passport. It’s like going back to the dawn of the human civilization. Here everything will be available to all and the world may evolve as one community. However, that is highly unlikely – because the world is divided over religion, caste, creed, and other things.

Nation-State Renewal:

Second assumption. This sounds just the opposite of a borderless world. It’s more like current lock down rules. People will be able to shop, roam, and travel but in a limited way. Things like long distance travel ban, contact with more than 50 people is forbidden or outlawed. The world may divide into small zones for safety and fear of being a spreader will always loom over the head.

Two Worlds Apart:

Third assumption. It’s a pragmatic theory and could be proved real if the pandemic continues for even half a decade. Here the author says that the world will be divided into two: extra rich and rest of the world. Elite vs. poor! They will live separately, in different zones. Trond labels it as Clean and Dirty world.

Hobbesian Chaos:

This is fourth assumption. It is more of a like a Jungle Rule. The fittest of all will survive, while others will suffer and perish. This is highly dystopian and here nothing works. Famine and ecological catastrophes will be common.

Status Quo:

Fifth assumption. Here the world did invent a vaccine and it worked. Living with a virus threat becomes the new normal. It will be more like contemporary crises, minus the invention of the vaccine.

Major takeaways from the book:

  1. Life will not be same a decade from here
  2. Technology change would have happened in the wake of Coronavirus, such as VR, AR, 3D print and so on.
  3. Pandemics change the world the way it behaves
  4. Vaccination development is not easy, it takes time
  5. There will be fight for superpower game. May be China trample America or Russia.
  6. Human societies will be either divided or united – it may not run like today
  7. What is a spreader and how to identify and manage?

The author has thought of a long time with this pandemic. If it stays, we may all see the same events. If we heed now, we may prepare better for tomorrow.


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