Sex, sacrilege and spending await society on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic.
So says Yale professor Dr. Nicholas Christakis in his new book, “Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live.”
According to Christakis, who is also a social epidemiologist, society will make up for lost time as soon as it’s safe to, with hedonism quickly replacing conservative socializing — but that reversal remains years away.
“During epidemics you get increases in religiosity, people become more abstentious, they save money, they get risk averse and we’re seeing all of that now, just as we have for hundreds of years during epidemics,” Christakis told The Guardian. “In 2024, all of those [pandemic trends] will be reversed.”
As in the “roaring ’20s,” which followed the 1918 pandemic, this will plunge humanity into an era of vice and indulgence.
“People will relentlessly seek out social interactions,” said Christakis, naming “sexual licentiousness,” a “reverse of religiosity” and an economic boom as likely trends.
This eventual outcome is fairly predictable, he said, because the ongoing pandemic — although novel to those alive today — is not a new phenomenon in human history.
“One of the arguments in the book is that what’s happening to us may seem to so many people to be alien and unnatural, but plagues are not new to our species — they’re just new to us,” he said.
Past pandemics also have shown that it is the disease itself, and not the government’s response, which is most directly causing the current financial fallout.
“Many people seem to think it’s the actions of our government that are causing the economy to slow — that’s false,” he said. “It’s the virus that’s causing the economy to slow, because economies collapsed even in ancient times when plagues happened, even when there was no government saying, ‘Close the schools and close the restaurants.’ “
Still, he added, if individuals had been more adult in their response to the coronavirus, this would’ve been easier.
“As a society we have been very immature,” he said. “Immature, and typical as well, we could have done better.”
While previous pandemics were endured without the help of modern science, today’s rapid-paced vaccine response ensures that COVID-19 will not only end, but will far faster than ever before possible.
“We’re the first generation of humans alive who has ever faced this threat that allows them to respond in real-time with efficacious medicines,” he said. “It’s miraculous.”