Trends Briefing: Long Covid

The Aftershocks of the Pandemic

Thursday 20th July 2023


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In the last few weeks, public hearings have begun in the UK Covid-19 Inquiry. Module 1 is ‘Resilience and Preparedness’ – which is why your news bulletins were full of senior politicians from the 2010-2015 government defending the policies of the time. Strap in for the public hearings for Module 2 – core decision making and political governance – due to start sometime before 2026.

It’s also about two years since the final lockdown restrictions were lifted: on July 19th 2021 the final legal limits on social contact were removed allowing the final closed sectors of the economy – like nightclubs – to reopen. It was a key milestone: although the future was highly uncertain, following the success of the vaccine rollout it seemed like we were putting the pandemic behind us.

But how far behind us is it?

Offices and urban transport networks seem busier than they have done, especially in the middle of the week. Fewer and fewer people wear masks, perspex screens are gradually being removed from tills and virtually no one starts conversations anymore by telling you what flavour of vaccine they’ve just had. In May this year the World Health Organisation declared the end of Covid-19 as a public health emergency.

But at the same time, the aftershocks of the pandemic are visible everywhere you look. NHS waiting lists, public sector strikes and stubborn inflation all have their roots in the pandemic. In last month’s trends briefing we looked at the endurance of Fourth Places – digital, remote leisure occasions – that are surviving in the aftermath. The political tables turned on the revelations about rule-breaking at the height of lockdown at the height of government – and look set to propel the opposition into power next year.

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In our next Trends Briefing we’ll take a look at the ways in which Covid is still setting the agenda, two years after the end of the last lockdown. We’ll also explore what the events it caused and trends it accelerated mean for the next few years, as we navigate the aftershocks. As ever, our analysis will be informed by hot off the press data from our consumer sentiment barometer and will be paired with our take on what it all means for organisations, brands and policymakers.

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