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Key post-COVID-19 trends impacting healthcare in Thailand and the world

 Key post-COVID-19 trends impacting healthcare in Thailand and the world

The COVID-19 virus is a global crisis that has transformed businesses, industries, jobs, markets and the overall economy. It has undoubtedly changed the way we work and live. The World Bank projected that the global economy would contract by more than five percent in 2020 and may likely only recover by 2023 at the earliest.

To date, scientists around the world are working on potential treatments and antiviral drugs, while several companies are researching vaccines that could be used as a preventive measure against the virus. However, it could be months before treatments for COVID-19 are found and it could be even longer for a vaccine to be successfully developed, tested and made available to the masses.

In this article, we want to highlight the major accelerating, delayed and reversed trends that will shape the post-pandemic world of working, buying, socializing, technology and having access to healthcare.

1. Digitization

 

Online transactions, eCommerce and on-demand entertainment will keep growing after recording a big jump throughout the pandemic. As physical stores struggle to return to normal operations, online shopping will continue to dominate in terms of revenue, preference and offerings.

 

The use of virtual doctors has been on the rise even before the pandemic. More so now, telemedicine will become a catalyst for the whole digital healthcare and telemedicine industry as self-isolating medical practitioners and patients are already using mobile and online apps to serve patients.

 

The ASEAN markets have the biggest potential for telemedicine growth due to present low access to medical services. However, this shift will require new ways of working for a broad set of providers, improvements in information exchange and broadening access and integration of technology. The impact will be clear: improved convenience, better access to healthcare care and improved patient outcomes.

 

2. Increasing inequality

 

The pandemic has amplified existing socioeconomic inequalities in healthcare access to certain segments of the society. The United Nations has estimated that global human development, as a combined measure of the world’s education, health and living standards, is on course to decline in 2020 for the first time since the concept was developed in 1990.

 

According to Krungsri Research, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council estimates that the number of people in Thailand aged over 60 will exceed 13 million by 2021; hence, the number of illnesses is projected to grow as well.

 

3. Aging society

 

An aging society, particularly in Asia, would mean a higher risks of deaths from COVID-19. The COVID-19 fatality rate for older people is higher than for younger age groups and reaches five times the global average for those aged 80 and over.

 

The virus has thrust most markets into economic recessions and past evidence suggests that this will lead people to have fewer children. A study by the London School of Economics indicated that the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis has had a predominantly negative effect on the fertility plans of those aged 18 to 34 living in Europe.

 

This period also saw a substantial decline in childcare-related businesses as childcare services are suspended due to business lockdowns. Service providers are instead looking at how they can support older people, their families and their caregivers. During times of isolation and quarantine, older people need safe access to nutritious food, basic supplies, money, medicine and social care.

1. Circular economy

 

A huge concern for many is the looming environmental crisis ahead. With business profits being prioritized over the environment, especially in developing markets, we may potentially be creating an even more permanent and damaging future than any pandemic.

 

While the current waste issue is a major problem that is worsening by the day, the disposal of face masks is also a major concern. Grand View Research has projected that global sales of disposable face masks will exceed USD166 billion in 2020.

 

As eCommerce activities and food takeout services grow, a large amount of waste from delivery is also created. Physical distancing has led to a flood of products delivered daily to homes wrapped in a plethora of packaging. While the demand for plastic containers has grown, the ensuing plastic waste is also enormous.

 

2. Renewable energy

 

During lockdown measures, global energy demand dropped to levels not seen in 70 years. Overall energy demand contracted by six percent and energy-related emissions is projected to decrease by eight percent for 2020. Oil demand is expected to drop nine percent and coal eight percent for this year, while crude oil is at record-low prices.

 

Renewable energy becomes less attractive in developing markets due to having fewer subsidies due to public debt and it is less competitively priced as prices for oil, gas and coal continue to drop.

 

3. Automation

 

For the manufacturing and automation industries, the pandemic has resulted in a vast decline in revenue and profits. With businesses experiencing a significant cut down in the number of workers, attritions and financial challenges, the overall automation sector is moving much slower due to the slowdown in demand.

 

As labor wages remain stagnant and manufacturers faced with excess production capacity, Meticulous Research estimated that the overall impact of this crisis on the automation industry will result in around eight percent dip in the global market in 2020.

1. Poverty reduction

 

Poverty projections suggest that the social and economic impacts of the crisis are likely to be quite significant. The World Bank estimated that COVID-19 could push 71 million people into extreme poverty in 2020 and even as many as 100 million in the worst-case scenario.

 

A large share of the new extreme poor will be concentrated in markets that are already struggling with high poverty rates and numbers of poor, notably in South Asia and in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

2. Reduced purchasing power

 

Consumer spending has dropped across all industries as lockdown measures have restricted what we can spend money on. Consumers are also less inclined to spend money, especially on non-essential products and services, as many are expecting their household income to continue to fall in the coming months.

 

3. Globalization

 

The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have exposed the shortcomings of existing supply chains with products, components and materials badly affected around the world. Current forecasts state up to a 32 percent decline in merchandise trade, a nearly 40 percent reduction in foreign direct investment and as much as an 80 percent drop in international airline passengers this year.

 

Decentralized local manufacturing could replace global supply chains as a result of the pandemic. We have already seen the supply of materials and goods moving closer to home, predominantly in the healthcare industry.