Thursday, December 17, 2020

A brief note on the blog and on COVID-19

The subject of COVID-19, a virus that burst forth from its rom obscurity in (most likely) one population or another of wild mammals in China to become a global zoonotic pandemic, is well-suited for Demography Matters. Speaking for myself, I have felt unable to address this topic because it is so all-encompassing. It has transformed my life and those of my friends and family, it has wrought remarkable change throughhout the world, and it will inflict a shock with consequences that we are only beginning to realize.

Thirteen thousand people have died of COVID-19 in Canada as I write, and to my country's south well over 300 thousand have died in the United States, with a total of 1.6 million recorded deaths worldwide. This is not the least of it: Over at Quora, Franklin Veaux answering the question of just how a disease with a mortality rate of 1% could paralyze the United States. Even ignoring the terrible mortality that it inflicts, COVID-19 leaves many of its survivors with a host of disabilities.

Vaccines cannot come quickly enough. What will the world be like when an unprecedented global distribution of vaccines is finished, when COVID-19 becomes just another disease that we can handle? (I am struck, as a long-time student of HIV/AIDS, by the prominence of Dr. Anthony Fauci in the American and global efforts to deal with COVID-19; his new prominent appearance in the fight to deal yet another plague shows how history can rhyme strangely.) Mortality and long-term health of populations will be affected, but they will not be alone. Early signs are that the great instability and uncertainty wrought by COVID-19 has helped depressed fertility worldwide, for instance, while cross-border migration has been tamped down almost entirely. The future evolution of the world population has been marked in a way that is not going to disappear quickly.

Demography Matters will be there for it. This blog may stay on Blogger or go elsewhere (Medium looks interesting), but there remains a real need for blogs which take a look at population issues. Demography does indeed matter. Watch this space.