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Covid 19 Essay in English

Essay on Covid -19: In a very short amount of time, coronavirus has spread globally. It has had an enormous impact on people's lives, economy, and societies all around the world, affecting every country. Governments have had to take severe measures to try and contain the pandemic. The virus has altered our way of life in many ways, including its effects on our health and our economy. Here are a few sample essays on ‘CoronaVirus’.

100 Words Essay on Covid 19

200 words essay on covid 19, 500 words essay on covid 19.

Covid 19 Essay in English

COVID-19 or Corona Virus is a novel coronavirus that was first identified in 2019. It is similar to other coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, but it is more contagious and has caused more severe respiratory illness in people who have been infected. The novel coronavirus became a global pandemic in a very short period of time. It has affected lives, economies and societies across the world, leaving no country untouched. The virus has caused governments to take drastic measures to try and contain it. From health implications to economic and social ramifications, COVID-19 impacted every part of our lives. It has been more than 2 years since the pandemic hit and the world is still recovering from its effects.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the world has been impacted in a number of ways. For one, the global economy has taken a hit as businesses have been forced to close their doors. This has led to widespread job losses and an increase in poverty levels around the world. Additionally, countries have had to impose strict travel restrictions in an attempt to contain the virus, which has resulted in a decrease in tourism and international trade. Furthermore, the pandemic has put immense pressure on healthcare systems globally, as hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients suffering from the virus. Lastly, the outbreak has led to a general feeling of anxiety and uncertainty, as people are fearful of contracting the disease.

My Experience of COVID-19

I still remember how abruptly colleges and schools shut down in March 2020. I was a college student at that time and I was under the impression that everything would go back to normal in a few weeks. I could not have been more wrong. The situation only got worse every week and the government had to impose a lockdown. There were so many restrictions in place. For example, we had to wear face masks whenever we left the house, and we could only go out for essential errands. Restaurants and shops were only allowed to operate at take-out capacity, and many businesses were shut down.

In the current scenario, coronavirus is dominating all aspects of our lives. The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc upon people’s lives, altering the way we live and work in a very short amount of time. It has revolutionised how we think about health care, education, and even social interaction. This virus has had long-term implications on our society, including its impact on mental health, economic stability, and global politics. But we as individuals can help to mitigate these effects by taking personal responsibility to protect themselves and those around them from infection.

Effects of CoronaVirus on Education

The outbreak of coronavirus has had a significant impact on education systems around the world. In China, where the virus originated, all schools and universities were closed for several weeks in an effort to contain the spread of the disease. Many other countries have followed suit, either closing schools altogether or suspending classes for a period of time.

This has resulted in a major disruption to the education of millions of students. Some have been able to continue their studies online, but many have not had access to the internet or have not been able to afford the costs associated with it. This has led to a widening of the digital divide between those who can afford to continue their education online and those who cannot.

The closure of schools has also had a negative impact on the mental health of many students. With no face-to-face contact with friends and teachers, some students have felt isolated and anxious. This has been compounded by the worry and uncertainty surrounding the virus itself.

The situation with coronavirus has improved and schools have been reopened but students are still catching up with the gap of 2 years that the pandemic created. In the meantime, governments and educational institutions are working together to find ways to support students and ensure that they are able to continue their education despite these difficult circumstances.

Effects of CoronaVirus on Economy

The outbreak of the coronavirus has had a significant impact on the global economy. The virus, which originated in China, has spread to over two hundred countries, resulting in widespread panic and a decrease in global trade. As a result of the outbreak, many businesses have been forced to close their doors, leading to a rise in unemployment. In addition, the stock market has taken a severe hit.

Effects of CoronaVirus on Health

The effects that coronavirus has on one's health are still being studied and researched as the virus continues to spread throughout the world. However, some of the potential effects on health that have been observed thus far include respiratory problems, fever, and coughing. In severe cases, pneumonia, kidney failure, and death can occur. It is important for people who think they may have been exposed to the virus to seek medical attention immediately so that they can be treated properly and avoid any serious complications. There is no specific cure or treatment for coronavirus at this time, but there are ways to help ease symptoms and prevent the virus from spreading.

Explore Career Options (By Industry)

  • Construction
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  • Information Technology

Bio Medical Engineer

The field of biomedical engineering opens up a universe of expert chances. An Individual in the biomedical engineering career path work in the field of engineering as well as medicine, in order to find out solutions to common problems of the two fields. The biomedical engineering job opportunities are to collaborate with doctors and researchers to develop medical systems, equipment, or devices that can solve clinical problems. Here we will be discussing jobs after biomedical engineering, how to get a job in biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering scope, and salary. 

Data Administrator

Database professionals use software to store and organise data such as financial information, and customer shipping records. Individuals who opt for a career as data administrators ensure that data is available for users and secured from unauthorised sales. DB administrators may work in various types of industries. It may involve computer systems design, service firms, insurance companies, banks and hospitals.

Ethical Hacker

A career as ethical hacker involves various challenges and provides lucrative opportunities in the digital era where every giant business and startup owns its cyberspace on the world wide web. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path try to find the vulnerabilities in the cyber system to get its authority. If he or she succeeds in it then he or she gets its illegal authority. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path then steal information or delete the file that could affect the business, functioning, or services of the organization.

Data Analyst

The invention of the database has given fresh breath to the people involved in the data analytics career path. Analysis refers to splitting up a whole into its individual components for individual analysis. Data analysis is a method through which raw data are processed and transformed into information that would be beneficial for user strategic thinking.

Data are collected and examined to respond to questions, evaluate hypotheses or contradict theories. It is a tool for analyzing, transforming, modeling, and arranging data with useful knowledge, to assist in decision-making and methods, encompassing various strategies, and is used in different fields of business, research, and social science.

Geothermal Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as geothermal engineers are the professionals involved in the processing of geothermal energy. The responsibilities of geothermal engineers may vary depending on the workplace location. Those who work in fields design facilities to process and distribute geothermal energy. They oversee the functioning of machinery used in the field.

Remote Sensing Technician

Individuals who opt for a career as a remote sensing technician possess unique personalities. Remote sensing analysts seem to be rational human beings, they are strong, independent, persistent, sincere, realistic and resourceful. Some of them are analytical as well, which means they are intelligent, introspective and inquisitive. 

Remote sensing scientists use remote sensing technology to support scientists in fields such as community planning, flight planning or the management of natural resources. Analysing data collected from aircraft, satellites or ground-based platforms using statistical analysis software, image analysis software or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a significant part of their work. Do you want to learn how to become remote sensing technician? There's no need to be concerned; we've devised a simple remote sensing technician career path for you. Scroll through the pages and read.

Geotechnical engineer

The role of geotechnical engineer starts with reviewing the projects needed to define the required material properties. The work responsibilities are followed by a site investigation of rock, soil, fault distribution and bedrock properties on and below an area of interest. The investigation is aimed to improve the ground engineering design and determine their engineering properties that include how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. 

The role of geotechnical engineer in mining includes designing and determining the type of foundations, earthworks, and or pavement subgrades required for the intended man-made structures to be made. Geotechnical engineering jobs are involved in earthen and concrete dam construction projects, working under a range of normal and extreme loading conditions. 


How fascinating it is to represent the whole world on just a piece of paper or a sphere. With the help of maps, we are able to represent the real world on a much smaller scale. Individuals who opt for a career as a cartographer are those who make maps. But, cartography is not just limited to maps, it is about a mixture of art , science , and technology. As a cartographer, not only you will create maps but use various geodetic surveys and remote sensing systems to measure, analyse, and create different maps for political, cultural or educational purposes.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysis, in a nutshell, entails thoroughly analyzing the details of a financial budget. The budget analysis aims to better understand and manage revenue. Budget analysts assist in the achievement of financial targets, the preservation of profitability, and the pursuit of long-term growth for a business. Budget analysts generally have a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, or a closely related field. Knowledge of Financial Management is of prime importance in this career.

Product Manager

A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  


An underwriter is a person who assesses and evaluates the risk of insurance in his or her field like mortgage, loan, health policy, investment, and so on and so forth. The underwriter career path does involve risks as analysing the risks means finding out if there is a way for the insurance underwriter jobs to recover the money from its clients. If the risk turns out to be too much for the company then in the future it is an underwriter who will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one must carry out his or her job with a lot of attention and diligence.

Finance Executive

Operations manager.

Individuals in the operations manager jobs are responsible for ensuring the efficiency of each department to acquire its optimal goal. They plan the use of resources and distribution of materials. The operations manager's job description includes managing budgets, negotiating contracts, and performing administrative tasks.

Bank Probationary Officer (PO)

Investment director.

An investment director is a person who helps corporations and individuals manage their finances. They can help them develop a strategy to achieve their goals, including paying off debts and investing in the future. In addition, he or she can help individuals make informed decisions.

Welding Engineer

Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues. 

Transportation Planner

A career as Transportation Planner requires technical application of science and technology in engineering, particularly the concepts, equipment and technologies involved in the production of products and services. In fields like land use, infrastructure review, ecological standards and street design, he or she considers issues of health, environment and performance. A Transportation Planner assigns resources for implementing and designing programmes. He or she is responsible for assessing needs, preparing plans and forecasts and compliance with regulations.

An expert in plumbing is aware of building regulations and safety standards and works to make sure these standards are upheld. Testing pipes for leakage using air pressure and other gauges, and also the ability to construct new pipe systems by cutting, fitting, measuring and threading pipes are some of the other more involved aspects of plumbing. Individuals in the plumber career path are self-employed or work for a small business employing less than ten people, though some might find working for larger entities or the government more desirable.

Construction Manager

Individuals who opt for a career as construction managers have a senior-level management role offered in construction firms. Responsibilities in the construction management career path are assigning tasks to workers, inspecting their work, and coordinating with other professionals including architects, subcontractors, and building services engineers.

Urban Planner

Urban Planning careers revolve around the idea of developing a plan to use the land optimally, without affecting the environment. Urban planning jobs are offered to those candidates who are skilled in making the right use of land to distribute the growing population, to create various communities. 

Urban planning careers come with the opportunity to make changes to the existing cities and towns. They identify various community needs and make short and long-term plans accordingly.

Highway Engineer

Highway Engineer Job Description:  A Highway Engineer is a civil engineer who specialises in planning and building thousands of miles of roads that support connectivity and allow transportation across the country. He or she ensures that traffic management schemes are effectively planned concerning economic sustainability and successful implementation.

Environmental Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as an environmental engineer are construction professionals who utilise the skills and knowledge of biology, soil science, chemistry and the concept of engineering to design and develop projects that serve as solutions to various environmental problems. 

Naval Architect

A Naval Architect is a professional who designs, produces and repairs safe and sea-worthy surfaces or underwater structures. A Naval Architect stays involved in creating and designing ships, ferries, submarines and yachts with implementation of various principles such as gravity, ideal hull form, buoyancy and stability. 

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and Prosthetists are professionals who provide aid to patients with disabilities. They fix them to artificial limbs (prosthetics) and help them to regain stability. There are times when people lose their limbs in an accident. In some other occasions, they are born without a limb or orthopaedic impairment. Orthotists and prosthetists play a crucial role in their lives with fixing them to assistive devices and provide mobility.

Veterinary Doctor


A career in pathology in India is filled with several responsibilities as it is a medical branch and affects human lives. The demand for pathologists has been increasing over the past few years as people are getting more aware of different diseases. Not only that, but an increase in population and lifestyle changes have also contributed to the increase in a pathologist’s demand. The pathology careers provide an extremely huge number of opportunities and if you want to be a part of the medical field you can consider being a pathologist. If you want to know more about a career in pathology in India then continue reading this article.

Speech Therapist


Gynaecology can be defined as the study of the female body. The job outlook for gynaecology is excellent since there is evergreen demand for one because of their responsibility of dealing with not only women’s health but also fertility and pregnancy issues. Although most women prefer to have a women obstetrician gynaecologist as their doctor, men also explore a career as a gynaecologist and there are ample amounts of male doctors in the field who are gynaecologists and aid women during delivery and childbirth. 

An oncologist is a specialised doctor responsible for providing medical care to patients diagnosed with cancer. He or she uses several therapies to control the cancer and its effect on the human body such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and biopsy. An oncologist designs a treatment plan based on a pathology report after diagnosing the type of cancer and where it is spreading inside the body.


The audiologist career involves audiology professionals who are responsible to treat hearing loss and proactively preventing the relevant damage. Individuals who opt for a career as an audiologist use various testing strategies with the aim to determine if someone has a normal sensitivity to sounds or not. After the identification of hearing loss, a hearing doctor is required to determine which sections of the hearing are affected, to what extent they are affected, and where the wound causing the hearing loss is found. As soon as the hearing loss is identified, the patients are provided with recommendations for interventions and rehabilitation such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and appropriate medical referrals. While audiology is a branch of science that studies and researches hearing, balance, and related disorders.

Hospital Administrator

The hospital Administrator is in charge of organising and supervising the daily operations of medical services and facilities. This organising includes managing of organisation’s staff and its members in service, budgets, service reports, departmental reporting and taking reminders of patient care and services.

For an individual who opts for a career as an actor, the primary responsibility is to completely speak to the character he or she is playing and to persuade the crowd that the character is genuine by connecting with them and bringing them into the story. This applies to significant roles and littler parts, as all roles join to make an effective creation. Here in this article, we will discuss how to become an actor in India, actor exams, actor salary in India, and actor jobs. 

Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats create and direct original routines for themselves, in addition to developing interpretations of existing routines. The work of circus acrobats can be seen in a variety of performance settings, including circus, reality shows, sports events like the Olympics, movies and commercials. Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats must be prepared to face rejections and intermittent periods of work. The creativity of acrobats may extend to other aspects of the performance. For example, acrobats in the circus may work with gym trainers, celebrities or collaborate with other professionals to enhance such performance elements as costume and or maybe at the teaching end of the career.

Video Game Designer

Career as a video game designer is filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. A video game designer is someone who is involved in the process of creating a game from day one. He or she is responsible for fulfilling duties like designing the character of the game, the several levels involved, plot, art and similar other elements. Individuals who opt for a career as a video game designer may also write the codes for the game using different programming languages.

Depending on the video game designer job description and experience they may also have to lead a team and do the early testing of the game in order to suggest changes and find loopholes.

Radio Jockey

Radio Jockey is an exciting, promising career and a great challenge for music lovers. If you are really interested in a career as radio jockey, then it is very important for an RJ to have an automatic, fun, and friendly personality. If you want to get a job done in this field, a strong command of the language and a good voice are always good things. Apart from this, in order to be a good radio jockey, you will also listen to good radio jockeys so that you can understand their style and later make your own by practicing.

A career as radio jockey has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. If you want to know more about a career as radio jockey, and how to become a radio jockey then continue reading the article.


The word “choreography" actually comes from Greek words that mean “dance writing." Individuals who opt for a career as a choreographer create and direct original dances, in addition to developing interpretations of existing dances. A Choreographer dances and utilises his or her creativity in other aspects of dance performance. For example, he or she may work with the music director to select music or collaborate with other famous choreographers to enhance such performance elements as lighting, costume and set design.


Multimedia specialist.

A multimedia specialist is a media professional who creates, audio, videos, graphic image files, computer animations for multimedia applications. He or she is responsible for planning, producing, and maintaining websites and applications. 

Social Media Manager

A career as social media manager involves implementing the company’s or brand’s marketing plan across all social media channels. Social media managers help in building or improving a brand’s or a company’s website traffic, build brand awareness, create and implement marketing and brand strategy. Social media managers are key to important social communication as well.

Copy Writer

In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism , Advertising , Marketing Management . Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook. 

Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.

For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.

In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. 

Ever since internet costs got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, a career as a vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the Vlogger eligibility, roles and responsibilities then continue reading the article. 

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Linguistic meaning is related to language or Linguistics which is the study of languages. A career as a linguistic meaning, a profession that is based on the scientific study of language, and it's a very broad field with many specialities. Famous linguists work in academia, researching and teaching different areas of language, such as phonetics (sounds), syntax (word order) and semantics (meaning). 

Other researchers focus on specialities like computational linguistics, which seeks to better match human and computer language capacities, or applied linguistics, which is concerned with improving language education. Still, others work as language experts for the government, advertising companies, dictionary publishers and various other private enterprises. Some might work from home as freelance linguists. Philologist, phonologist, and dialectician are some of Linguist synonym. Linguists can study French , German , Italian . 

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Individuals in the information security manager career path involves in overseeing and controlling all aspects of computer security. The IT security manager job description includes planning and carrying out security measures to protect the business data and information from corruption, theft, unauthorised access, and deliberate attack 

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Impact of COVID-19 on the social, economic, environmental and energy domains: Lessons learnt from a global pandemic

a School of Information Systems and Modelling, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, University of Technology Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia

I.M. Rizwanul Fattah

Md asraful alam.

b School of Chemical Engineering, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001, China

A.B.M. Saiful Islam

c Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, College of Engineering, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam 31451, Saudi Arabia

Hwai Chyuan Ong

S.m. ashrafur rahman.

d Biofuel Engine Research Facility, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, QLD 4000, Australia

e Tarbiat Modares University, P.O.Box: 14115-111, Tehran, Iran

f Science and Math Program, Asian University for Women, Chattogram 4000, Bangladesh

Md. Alhaz Uddin

g Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, Jouf University, Sakaka, Saudi Arabia

T.M.I. Mahlia

COVID-19 has heightened human suffering, undermined the economy, turned the lives of billions of people around the globe upside down, and significantly affected the health, economic, environmental and social domains. This study aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the ecological domain, the energy sector, society and the economy and investigate the global preventive measures taken to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This analysis unpacks the key responses to COVID-19, the efficacy of current initiatives, and summarises the lessons learnt as an update on the information available to authorities, business and industry. This review found that a 72-hour delay in the collection and disposal of waste from infected households and quarantine facilities is crucial to controlling the spread of the virus. Broad sector by sector plans for socio-economic growth as well as a robust entrepreneurship-friendly economy is needed for the business to be sustainable at the peak of the pandemic. The socio-economic crisis has reshaped investment in energy and affected the energy sector significantly with most investment activity facing disruption due to mobility restrictions. Delays in energy projects are expected to create uncertainty in the years ahead. This report will benefit governments, leaders, energy firms and customers in addressing a pandemic-like situation in the future.

1. Introduction

The newly identified infectious coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was discovered in Wuhan and has spread rapidly since December 2019 within China and to other countries around the globe ( Zhou et al., 2020 ; Kabir et al., 2020 ). The source of SARS-CoV-2 is still unclear ( Gorbalenya et al., 2020 ). Fig. 1 demonstrates the initial timeline of the development of SARS-CoV-2 ( Yan et al., 2020 ). The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges to global safety in public health ( Wang et al., 2020 ). On 31 st January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO), due to growing fears about the rapid spread of coronavirus, announced a global epidemic and on 11 th March, the disease was recognised as a pandemic ( Chowdhury et al., 2021 ). COVID-19 clinical trials indicate that almost all patients admitted to hospital have trouble breathing and pneumonia-like symptoms ( Holshue et al., 2020 ). Clinical diagnosis has identified that COVID-19 (disease caused by SARS-CoV-2) patients have similar indications to other coronavirus affected patients, e.g. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) ( Wang and Su, 2020 ). The initial indication of a COVID-19 infection is coughing, fever, and short breath, and in the later stages, it can damage the kidney, cause pneumonia, and unexpected death ( Mofijur et al., 2020 ). The vulnerability of the elderly (>80 years of age) is high, with a fatality rate of ~22% of cases infected by COVID-19 ( Abdullah et al., 2020 ). The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached over 33 million as of 29 th September 2020, with more than 213 countries and regions affected by the pandemic ( Worldometer, 2020 ). Over 1,003,569 people have already passed away ( Worldometer, 2020 ) due to COVID-19. Most countries are currently trying to combat the virus spread by screening for COVID-19 in large numbers and maintaining social distancing policies with an emphasis on the health of human beings.

Fig. 1

The initial stage development timeline for COVID-19 ( Yan et al., 2020 ).

Fig. 2 shows infections and replication cycle of the coronavirus. In extreme cases, the lungs are the most severely damaged organ of a SARS-CoV-2 infected person (host). The alveoli are porous cup-formed small cavities located in the structure of the lungs where the gas exchange of the breathing process take place. The most common cells on the alveoli are the type II cells.

Fig. 2

Infections and replication cycle of the coronavirus ( Acter et al., 2020 ).

It has been reported that travel restrictions play a significant role in controlling the initial spread of COVID-19 ( Chinazzi et al., 2020 ; Aldila et al., 2020 ; Beck and Hensher, 2020 ; Bruinen de Bruin et al., 2020 ; de Haas et al., 2020 ). It has been reported that staying at home is most useful in controlling both the initial and last phase of infectious diseases ( de Haas et al., 2020 ; Cohen, 2020 , Pirouz et al., 2020 ). However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantines, entry bans, as well as other limitations have been implemented for citizens in or recent travellers to several countries in the most affected areas ( Sohrabi et al., 2020 ). Also, most of the industries were shutdown to lower mobility. A potential benefit of these measures is the reduction of pollution by the industrial and transportation sector, improving urban sustainability ( Jiang et al., 2021 ). Fig. 3 shows the global responses to lower the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. There have been negative economic and social implications due to restrictions and decreased travel readiness worldwide ( Leal Filho et al., 2020 ). A fall in the volume of business activity and international events and an increase in online measures could have a long-term impact. The status of global transport and air activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is shown in Fig. 4 ( International Energy Agency (IEA), 2020 ). By March 2020, the average global road haulage activity in regions with lockdowns had declined to almost 50% of the 2019 standard. Air travel has almost completely stopped in certain regions with aviation activity decreasing by over 90% in some European countries. Air activity in China recovered slightly from a low in late February, with lockdown measures somewhat eased. Nevertheless, as lockdowns spread, by the end of Q1 2020, global aviation activity decreased by a staggering 60%.

Fig. 3

Initial preventive measures to lower the COVID-19 outbreak ( Bruinen de Bruin et al., 2020 ).

Fig. 4

Global transport and aviation activity in the first quarter of the year 2020 ( International Energy Agency (IEA), 2020 ).

The spread of COVID-19 continues to threaten the public health situation severely ( Chinazzi et al., 2020 ) and greatly affect the global economy. Labour displacement, business closures and stock crashes are just some of the impacts of this global lockdown during the pandemic. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the effect of COVID-19 will result in a worldwide economic decline in 2020 and a decline in the economic growth to 3% ( International Monetary Fund (IMF) ). COVID-19 has a detrimental impact on economic growth due to two primary factors. In the beginning, the exponential growth of the global epidemic directly contributed to considerable confusion about instability in the financial and capital markets. Secondly, countries have strictly regulated human movement and transport to monitor the growth of the epidemic and significantly reduced economic activity, putting pressure on both consumer and productive economic activity.

Since the 1970s, the link between economic growth and pollution has been an important global concern. The assessment of energy and financial efficiency is usually connected to environmental pollution research. Green practices at a national level, the inclusion of renewable energy, regulatory pressure and the sustainable use of natural resources are associated with environmental sustainability ( Khan et al., 2020 ). One study has shown that environmental pollution increases with economic growth and vice versa ( Cai et al., 2020 ). The strict control over movement and business activity due to COVID-19 has led to an economic downturn, which is in turn, expected to reduce environmental pollution. This paper systematically assesses how the novel coronavirus has had a global effect on society, the energy sector and the environment. This study presents data compiled from the literature, news sources and reports (from February 2020 to July 2020) on the management steps implemented across the globe to control and reduce the impact of COVID-19. The study will offer guidelines for nations to assess the overall impact of COVID-19 in their countries.

2. Impact of COVID-19 on the environmental domain

2.1. waste generation.

The generation of different types of waste indirectly creates a number of environmental concerns ( Schanes et al., 2018 ). The home isolation and pop-up confinement services in countries that have experienced major impacts of COVID-19 are standard practise, as hospitals are given priority to the most serious cases. In some countries, hotels are being used to isolate travellers for at least two weeks on entry. In several countries, such quarantine measures have resulted in consumers increasing their domestic online shopping activity that has increased domestic waste. In addition, food bought online is packaged, so inorganic waste has also increased. Medical waste has also increased. For instance, Wuhan hospitals produced an average of 240 metric tonnes of medical waste during the outbreak compared to their previous average of fewer than 50 tonnes ( Zambrano-Monserrate et al., 2020 ). This unusual situation poses new and major obstacles in the implementation of waste collection services, thus creating a new challenge for waste collection and recycling groups. With the global adaptation to exponential behavioural and social shifts in the face of COVID-19 challenges, municipal services such as waste collection and management need to alter their operations to play an important role in reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

2.1.1. Lifespan of COVID-19 on different waste media

SARS-CoV-2′s transmission activity has major repercussions for waste services. SARS-CoV-2 attacks host cells with ACE2 proteins directly. ACE2 is a cell membrane-associated enzyme in the lungs, heart and kidneys. When all the resources in the host cell are infected and depleted, the viruses leave the cell in the so-called shedding cycle ( Nghiem et al., 2020 ). Clinical and virological evidence suggests that the elimination of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is most relevant early on, right before and within a couple of days of the onset of the illness ( AEMO, 2020 ). Fomites are known as major vectors for the replication of other infectious viruses during the outbreak ( Park et al., 2015 ). Evidence from SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses show that they remain effective for up to a few days in the atmosphere and on a variety of surfaces ( Fig. 5 ). The survival time of SARS-CoV-2 on hard and plastic surfaces is up to three days indicating that waste materials from COVID-19 patients may contain coronavirus and be a source of infection spread ( Chin et al., 2020 ). During the early stages of this epidemic, updated waste disposal methods to tackle COVID-19 were not implemented on the broader community. The concept of clinical waste essentially also applies to waste from contaminated homes and quarantine facilities. Throughout this pandemic, huge volumes of domestic and hospital waste, particularly plastic waste, has been generated. This has already impeded current efforts to reduce plastic waste and decrease its disposal in the environment. More effort should be made to find alternatives to heavily used plastics.

Fig. 5

The lifespan of SARS-CoV-2 on different media ( Chin et al., 2020 ; van Doremalen et al.; 2020 ; Ye et al., 2016 )

2.1.2. Waste recycling service

COVID-19 has already had significant effects on waste recycling. Initially, as the outbreak spread and lockdowns were implemented in several countries, both public authorities and municipal waste management officials had to adjust to the situation quickly. Waste disposal has also been a major environmental problem for all technologically advanced nations, as no clear information was available about the retention time of SARS-CoV-2 ( Liu et al., 2020 ). Recycling is a growing and efficient means of pollution control, saving energy and conserving natural resources ( Ma et al., 2019 ). Recycling projects in various cities have been put on hold due to the pandemic, with officials worried about the possibility of COVID-19 spreading to recycling centres. Waste management has been limited in affected European countries. For example, Italy prohibited the sorting of waste by infected citizens. Extensive waste management during the pandemic is incredibly difficult because of the scattered nature of the cases and the individuals affected. The value of implementing best management practises for waste handling and hygiene to minimise employee exposure to potentially hazardous waste, should be highlighted at this time. Considering the possible role of the environment in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 ( Qu et al., 2020 ), the processing of both household and quarantine facility waste is a crucial point of control. Association of Cities and Regions for sustainable Resource management (ACR+) has reported on the provision of separate collection services to COVID-19 contaminated households and quarantine facilities to protect frontline waste workers in Europe, as shown in Fig. 6 . ACR+ also suggests a 72-hour delay in waste disposal (the possible lifespan of COVID-19 in the environment) ( Nghiem et al., 2020 ). Moreover, the collected waste should be immediately transported to waste incinerators or sites without segregation.

Fig. 6

Recommended waste management during COVID-19 ( ACR+ 2020 ).

2.2. NO 2 emissions

Without the global pandemic, we had naively anticipated that in 2020 global emissions would rise by around 1% on a five-year basis. Instead, the sharp decline in economic activity in response to the current crisis will most probably lead to a modest drop in global greenhouse emissions. The European Space Agency (ESA), with its head office in Paris, France, is an intergovernmental body made up of 22 European countries committed to exploring the international space. To monitor air pollution in the atmosphere, the ESA uses the Copernicus Sentinel-5P Satellite. In addition to the compound contents measurement, the Copernicus Sentinel-5P troposphere monitor (TROPOMI) and other specified precision equipment measure ozone content, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane. Table 1 shows NO 2 emissions data acquisition by ESA using Sentinel-5P across different regions of Europe ( Financial Times, 2020 ).

NO 2 emissions data acquisition by ESA using Sentinel-5P across different regions of Europe ( Financial Times, 2020 ).

Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, gas and other fuels, is the source of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide ( Munawer, 2018 ). The bulk of the NO 2 in cities, however, comes from emissions from motor vehicles (approximately 80%). Other NO 2 sources include petroleum and metal refining, coal-fired electricity, other manufacturing and food processing industries. Some NO 2 is naturally produced by lightning in the atmosphere and from the soil, water, and plants, which, taken together, constitutes not even 1% of the total NO 2 found in the air of our localities. Due to pollution variations as well as changes in weather conditions, the levels of the NO 2 in our atmosphere differ widely every day. Anthropogenic pollution is estimated to contain around 53 million tonnes of NO 2 annually. Nitrogen dioxide, together with nitrogen oxide (NO), are considered the major components of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) ( M Palash et al., 2013 ; Fattah et al., 2013 ). NO, and NO 2 are susceptible to other chemicals and form acid rain that is toxic to the environment ( Mofijur et al., 2013 ; Ashraful et al., 2014 ), WHO lists NO 2 as one of the six typical air contaminants in the atmosphere. For this reason, the amount of NO 2 in the atmosphere is used as a precise measure for determining whether the COVID-19 outbreak affects environmental pollution.

NO 2 is an irritating reddish-brown gas with an unpleasant smell, and when cooled or compressed, it becomes a yellowish-brown liquid ( Wang and Su, 2020 ). NO 2 inflames the lung linings and can decrease lung infection immunity. High levels of NO 2 in the air we breathe can corrode our body's lung tissues . Nitrogen dioxide is a problematic air pollutant because it leads to brown photochemical smog formation, which can have significant impacts on human health ( Huang et al., 2020 ). Brief exposure to high concentrations of NO 2 can lead to respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, bronchitis, flu, etc., and aggravate respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Increased NO 2 levels can have major effects on individuals with asthma, sometimes leading to frequent and intense attacks ( Munawer, 2018 ). Asthmatic children and older individuals with cardiac illness are most vulnerable in this regard. However, its main drawback is that it produces two of the most harmful air pollutants, ozone and airborne particles. Ozone gas affects our lungs and the crops we eat.

2.2.1. NO₂ emissions across different countries

According to the ESA ( European Space Agency (ESA), 2020 ), average levels of NO 2 declined by 40% between 13 th March 2020 to 13 th April 2020. The reduction was 55% compared to the same period in 2019. Fig. 7 compares the 2019-2020 NO 2 concentration ( European Space Agency (ESA), 2020 ). The displayed satellite image was captured with the TROPOMI by ESA satellite Sentinel-5P. The percentage reductions in average NO 2 emissions in European countries during the COVID-19 outbreak from 1 st April to 30 th April 2020 can be seen in Fig. 8 ( Myllyvirta, 2020 ). Portugal, Spain, Norway, Croatia, France, Italy, and Finland are the countries that experienced the largest decrease in NO 2 levels, with 58%, 48%, 47%, 43% and 41%, respectively.

Fig. 7

Comparison of the NO 2 concentration between 2019 and 2020 in Europe ( European Space Agency (ESA), 2020 ).

Fig. 8

Changes in average NO 2 emission in different countries ( Myllyvirta, 2020 ).

The average 10-day animation of NO 2 emissions throughout Europe (from 1 st January to 11 th March 2020), demonstrated the environmental impact of Italy's economic downturn, see Fig. 9 ( European Space Agency (ESA), 2020 ). In the recent four weeks (Last week of February 2020 to the third week of March 2020) the average concentration of NO 2 in Milan, Italy, has been at least 24% less than the previous four weeks. In the week of 16 – 22 March, the average concentration was 21% lower than in 2019 for the same week. Over the last four weeks of January 2020, NO 2 emissions in Bergamo city has been gradually declining. During the week of 16–22 March, the average concentration was 47% less than in 2019. In Rome, NO 2 rates were 26–35% lower than average in the last four weeks (third week of January 2020 to the third week of February 2020) than they were during the same week of 2019 ( Atmosphere Monitoring Service, 2020 ).

Fig. 9

Changes of NO 2 emission (a) over entire Italy (b) capital city (c) other cities ( European Space Agency (ESA), 2020 ; Atmosphere Monitoring Service, 2020 ).

Fig. 10 shows a comparison of NO 2 volumes in Spain in March 2019 and 2020. As per ( European Space Agency (ESA), 2020 ), Spain's NO 2 pollutants decreased by up to 20–30% due to lockdown, particularly across big cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. ESA Sentinel-5P captured the satellite image using TROPOMI. Satellite images of the 10 days between 14 th and 25 th March 2020 show that NO 2 tropospheric concentration in the areas of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Murcia ranges from 0–90 mg/m 3 . The NO 2 tropospheric concentration for Seville is almost 0 mg/m 3 for the same time. For March 2019, the average NO 2 tropospheric concentration for the Madrid area was between 90 and 160 mg/m 3 . At the same time, the range of NO 2 tropospheric concentration for Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville area was between 90–140 mg/m 3 , 90-130 mg/m 3 , and 30–50 mg/m 3 , respectively.

Fig. 10

Comparison between before and after lockdown NO 2 emissions in Spain ( European Space Agency (ESA), 2020 ).

Fig. 11 shows the reduction in the amount of NO 2 emissions in France in March 2019 and 2020 ( European Space Agency (ESA), 2020 ). In France, levels of NO 2 have been reduced by 20% to 30%. The ESA Sentinel-5P satellite image was captured with the TROPOMI. In Paris and other major cities, the emission levels of NO 2 considerably lowered due to lockdown. The three major areas of France where NO 2 tropospheric concentration was significant are Paris, Lyon, Marseille and their surroundings. Satellite images of the ten days between 14 th and 25 th March 2020 show that NO 2 tropospheric concentration of the Paris, Lyon, Marseille areas ranges 30–90 mg/m 3 , 20–40 mg/m 3 and 40–80 mg/m 3 , respectively. For March 2019, the average NO 2 tropospheric concentration for the same areas was reported as 100–160 mg/m 3 , 30–60 mg/m 3, and 90–140 mg/m 3 , respectively.

Fig. 11

Comparison of NO 2 emissions in France before and after lockdown ( European Space Agency (ESA), 2020 ).

Various industries across the UK have been affected by COVID-19, which has influenced air contamination. As shown in Fig. 12 , there were notable drops in the country's NO 2 emissions on the first day of quarantine ( Khoo, 2020 ). Edinburgh showed the most significant reduction. The average NO 2 emissions on 26 th March 2020, were 28 μg/m 3 while on the same day of 2019, this was 74 μg/m 3 ( Khoo, 2020 ). The second biggest reduction was observed in London Westminster where emissions reduced from 58 µg/m 3 to 30 µg/m 3 . Not all cities have seen such a significant decrease, with daily air pollution reducing by 7 μg/m 3 compared to the previous year in Manchester Piccadilly, for example ( Statista, 2020 ).

Fig. 12

(a) Changes in NO 2 emissions in the UK during lockdown ( European Space Agency (ESA), 2020 ); (b) comparison of NO 2 emissions in 2019 and 2020 ( Khoo, 2020 ).

2.3. PM emission

The term particulate matter, referred to as PM, is used to identify tiny airborne particles. PM forms in the atmosphere when pollutants chemically react with each other. Particles include pollution, dirt, soot, smoke, and droplets. Pollutants emitted from vehicles, factories, building sites, tilled areas, unpaved roads and the burning of fossil fuels also contribute to PM in the air ( Baensch-Baltruschat et al., 2020 ). Grilling food (by burning leaves or gas grills), smoking cigarettes, and burning wood on a fireplace or stove also contribute to PM. The aerodynamic diameter is considered a simple way to describe PM's particle size as these particles occur in various shapes and densities. Particulates are usually divided into two categories, namely, PM 10 that are inhalable particles with a diameter of 10 μm or less and PM 2.5 which are fine inhalable particle with a diameter of 2.5 μm or less. PM 2.5 exposure causes relatively severe health problems such as non-fatal heart attacks, heartbeat irregularity, increased asthma, reduced lung function, heightened respiratory symptoms, and premature death ( Weitekamp et al., 2020 ).

PM 2.5 also poses a threat to the environment, including lower visibility (haze) in many parts of the globe. Particulates can be transported long distances then settle on the ground or in water sources. In these contexts and as a function of the chemical composition, PM 2.5 may cause acidity in lakes and stream water, alter the nutrient balance in coastal waters and basins, deplete soil nutrients and damage crops on farms, affect the biodiversity in the ecosystem, and contribute to acid rain. This settling of PM, together with acid rain, can also stain and destroy stones and other materials such as statues and monuments, which include valuable cultural artefacts ( Awad et al., 2020 ).

2.3.1. PM emission in different countries

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, PM emission in most countries has been reduced ( Chatterjee et al., 2020 ; Ghahremanloo et al., 2021 ; Gualtieri et al., 2020 ; Sharifi and Khavarian-Garmsir, 2020 ; Srivastava, 2020 ). Fig. 13 shows the impact of COVID19 on PM emission in a number of some countries around the world ( Myllyvirta, 2020 ). The largest reductions in PM pollution took place in Portugal, with 55%, followed by Norway, Sweden, and Poland with reductions of 32%, 30%, and 28%, respectively. Spain, Poland, and Finland recorded PM emission reductions of 19%, 17% and 16%, respectively. Both Romania and Croatia recorded no changes in PM level, with Switzerland and Hungary recording about a 3% increase in PM emission.

Fig. 13

Reduction of PM emission in different countries ( Myllyvirta, 2020 ).

PM emissions have been significantly reduced during the epidemic in most regions of Italy. Fig. 14 illustrates the changes in COVID-19 containment emissions before and after a lockdown in major cities in Italy. According to a recent study by Sicard et al. ( Sicard et al., 2020 ), lockdown interventions have had a greater effect on PM emission. They found that confinement measures reduce PM 10 emissions in all major cities by “around 30% to 53%” and “around 35% to 56%”.

Fig. 14

Comparison of PM emission in Italy (a) PM 2.5 emission (b) Changes of PM 2.5 emission (c) PM 10 emission (d) Changes of PM 10 emission ( Sicard et al., 2020 ).

2.4. Noise emission

Noise is characterised as an undesirable sound that may be produced from different activities, e.g. transit by engine vehicles and high volume music. Noise can cause health problems and alter the natural condition of ecosystems. It is among the most significant sources of disruption in people and the environment ( Zambrano-Monserrate and Ruano, 2019 ). The European Environment Agency (EEA) states that traffic noise is a serious environmental problem that negatively affects the health and security of millions of citizens in Europe. The consequences of long-term exposure to noise include sleep disorders, adverse effects on the heart and metabolic systems, and cognitive impairment in children. The EEA estimates that noise pollution contributes to 48,000 new cases of heart disease and 12,000 early deaths per year. They also reported chronic high irritation for 22 million people and a chronic high level of sleep disorder for 6.5 million people ( Lillywhite, 2020 ).

Most governments have imposed quarantine measures that require people to spend much more time at home. This has considerably reduced the use of private and public transport. Commercial activities have almost completely stopped. In most cities in the world, these changes have caused a significant decline in noise levels. This was followed by a significant decline in pollution from contaminants and greenhouse gas emissions. Noise pollution from sources like road, rail or air transport has been linked to economic activity. Consequently, we anticipate that the levels of transport noise will decrease significantly due to the decreased demand for mobility in the short term ( Ro, 2020 ).

For example, it was obvious that environmental noise in Italy was reduced after 8 th March 2020 (the lockdown start date) due to a halt in commercial and recreational activities. A seismograph facility in Lombardy city in Italy that was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic indicated how the quarantine measures reduce both traffic and noise emissions. The comparison of the 24-hour seismic noise data before and after the lockdown period indicates a considerable drop in environmental noise in Italy ( Bressan, 2020 ).

3. Impact of COVID-19 on the socio-economic domain

COVID-19 has created a global health crisis where countless people are dying, human suffering is spreading, and people's lives are being upended ( Nicola et al., 2020 ). It is not only just a health crisis but also a social and economic crisis, both of which are fundamental to sustainable development ( Pirouz et al., 2020 ). On 11 th March 2020, when WHO declared a global pandemic, 118,000 reported cases spanning 114 countries with over 4,000 fatalities had been reported. It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000, and just four days for the third ( United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2020 ). This has overwhelmed the health systems of even the richest countries with doctors being forced to make the painful decision of who lives and who dies. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the world into uncertainty and countries do not have a clear exit strategy in the absence of a vaccine. This pandemic has affected all segments of society. However, it is particularly damaging to vulnerable social groups, including people living in poverty, older persons, persons with disabilities, youths, indigenous people and ethnic minorities. People with no home or shelter such as refugees, migrants, or displaced persons will suffer disproportionately, both during the pandemic and in its aftermath. This might occur in multiple ways, such as experiencing limited movement, fewer employment opportunities, increased xenophobia, etc. The social crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic may also increase inequality, discrimination and medium and long-term unemployment if not properly addressed by appropriate policies.

The protection measures taken to save lives are severely affecting economies all over the world. As discussed previously, the key protection measure adopted universally is the lockdown, which has forced people to work from home wherever possible. Workplace closures have disrupted supply chains and lowered productivity. In many instances, governments have closed borders to contain the spread. Other measures such as travel bans and the prohibition of sporting events and other mass gatherings are also in place. In addition, measures such as discouraging the use of public transport and public spaces, for example, restaurants, shopping centres and public attractions are also in place in many parts of the world. The situation is particularly dire in hospitality-related sectors and the global travel industry, including airlines, cruise companies, casinos and hotels which are facing a reduction in business activity of more than 90% ( Fernandes, 2020 ). The businesses that rely on social interactions like entertainment and tourism are suffering severely, and millions of people have lost their jobs. Layoffs, declines in personal income, and heightened uncertainty have made people spend less, triggering further business closures and job losses ( Ghosh, 2020 ).

A key performance indicator of economic health is Gross Domestic Product (GDP), typically calculated on a quarterly or annual basis. IMF provides a GDP growth estimate per quarter based on global economic developments during the near and medium-term. According to its estimate, the global economy is projected to contract sharply by 3% in 2020, which is much worse than the 2008 global financial crisis ( International Monetary Fund (IMF), 2020 ). The growth forecast was marked down by 6% in the April 2020 World Economic Outlook (WEO) compared to that of the October 2019 WEO and January 2020 WEO. Most economies in the advanced economy group are expected to contract in 2020, including the US, Japan, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain by 5.9%, 5.4%, 6.5%, 7.0%, 7.2%, 9.1%, and 8.0% respectively. Fig. 15 a shows the effect of COVID-19 on the GDP of different countries around the globe. On the other hand, economies of emerging market and developing economies, excluding China, are projected to contract by only 1.0% in 2020. The economic recovery in 2021 will depend on the gradual rolling back of containment efforts in the latter part of 2020 that will restore consumer and investor confidence. According to the April 2020 WEO, the level of GDP at the end of 2021 in both advanced and emerging market and developing economies is expected to remain below the pre-virus baseline (January 2020 WEO Update), as shown in Fig. 15 b.

Fig. 15

(a) Quarterly World GDP. 2019:Q1 =100, dashed line indicates estimates from January 2020 WEO; (b) GDP fall due to lockdown in selected countries.

A particular example of a country hardest hit by COVID-19 is Italy. During the early days of March, the Italian government imposed quarantine orders in major cities that locked down more than seventeen million people ( Andrews, 2020 ). The mobility index data by Google for Italy shows there has been a significant reduction in mobility (and therefore economic activity) across various facets of life. The reported decline of mobility in retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, transit stations and workplaces were 35%, 11%, 45% and 34% respectively ( Rubino, 2020 ). The Italian economy suffered great financial damage from the pandemic. The tourism, and hospitality sectors were among those most severely affected by foreign countries prohibiting travel to and from Italy, and by the government's national lockdowns in early March ( Brunton, 2020 ). A March 2020 study in Italy showed that about 99% of the companies in the housing and utility sector said the epidemic had affected their industry. In addition, transport and storage was the second most affected sector. Around 83% of companies operating in this sector said that their activities had been affected by the coronavirus ( Statista, 2020 ) pandemic. In April 2020, Italian Minister Roberto Gualtieri estimated a 6% reduction in the GDP for the year 2020 ( Bertacche et al., 2020 ). The government of Italy stopped all unnecessary companies, industries and economic activities on 21 st March 2020. Therefore The Economist estimates a 7% fall in GDP in 2020 ( Horowitz, 2020 ). The Economist predicted that the Italian debt-to-GDP ratio would grow from 130% to 180% by the end of 2020 ( Brunton, 2020 ) and it is also assumed that Italy will have difficulty repaying its debt ( Bertacche et al., 2020 ).

4. Impact of COVID-19 on the energy domain

COVID-19 has not only impacted health, society and the economy but it has also had a strong impact on the energy sector ( Chakraborty and Maity, 2020 ; Abu-Rayash and Dincer, 2020 ). World energy demand fell by 3.8% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020 compared with Q1 2019. In Q1 of 2020, the global coal market was heavily impacted by both weather conditions and the downturn in economic activity resulting in an almost 8% fall compared to Q1 2019. The fall was primarily in the electricity sector as a result of substantial declines in demand (-2.5%) and competitive advantages from predominantly low-cost natural gas. The market for global oil has plummeted by almost 5%. Travel bans, border closures, and changes in work routines significantly decreased the demand for the use of personal vehicles and air transport. Thus rising global economic activity slowed down the use of fuel for transportation ( Madurai Elavarasan et al., 2020 ). In Q1 2020, the output from nuclear energy plants decreased worldwide, especially in Europe and the US, as they adjusted for lower levels of demand. Demand for natural gas dropped significantly, by approximately 2% in Q1 2020, with the biggest declines in China, Europe, and the United States. In the Q1 2020, the need for renewable energy grew by around 1.5%, driven in recent years by the increasing output of new wind and solar plants. Renewable energy sources substantially increased in the electricity generation mix, with record hourly renewable energy shares in Belgium, Italy, Germany, Hungary, and East America. The share of renewable energy sources in the electricity generation mix has increased. Table 2 shows the effect of COVID-19 outbreak on the energy demand around the world.

Impact of COVID-19 on global energy sector ( AEMO, 2020 ; CIS Editorial, 2020 ; Eurelectric, 2020 ; Livemint, 2020 ; Renewable Energy World, 2020 ; S&P Global, 2020 ; Madurai Elavarasan et al., 2020 ).

Different areas have implemented lockdown of various duration. Therefore, regional energy demand depends on when lockdowns were introduced and how lockdowns influence demand in each country. In Korea and Japan, the average impact on demand is reduced to less than 10%, with lower restrictions. In China, where the first COVID-19 confinement measures were introduced, not all regions faced equally stringent constraints. Nevertheless, virus control initiatives have resulted in a decline of up to 15% in weekly energy demand across China. In Europe, moderate to complete lockdowns were more radical. On average, a 17% reduction in weekly demand was experienced during temporary confinement periods. India's complete lockdown has cut energy requirements by approximately 30%, which indicates yearly energy needs are lowered by 0.6% for each incremental lockdown week ( International Energy Agency (IEA) 2020 ).

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted an annual average decline in oil production of 9% in 2020, reflecting a return to 2012 levels. Broadly, as electricity demand has decreased by about 5% throughout the year, coal production may fall by 8%, and the output of coal-fired electricity generation could fall by more than 10%. During the entire year, gas demand may fall far beyond Q1 2020 due to a downward trend in power and industrial applications. Nuclear energy demand will also decrease in response to reduced electricity demand. The demand for renewable energies should grow due to low production costs and the choice of access to many power systems. Khan et al. (2020) reported that international trade is significantly and positively dependent on renewable energy. In addition, sustainable growth can be facilitated through the consumption of renewable energy which improves the environment, enhances national image globally and opens up international trade opportunities with environmentally friendly countries ( Khan et al., 2021 ). As such, policies that promote renewables can result in economic prosperity, create a better environment as well as meet critical goals for sustainable development ( Khan et al., 2020 ).

5. Preventive measures to control COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 is a major crisis needing an international response. Governments will ensure reliable information is provided to assist the public in combating this pandemic. Community health and infection control measures are urgently needed to reduce the damage done by COVID-19 and minimise the overall spread of the virus. Self-defence techniques include robust overall personal hygiene, face washing, refraining from touching the eyes, nose or mouth, maintaining physical distance and avoiding travel. In addition, different countries have already taken preventive measures, including the implementation of social distancing, medicine, forestation and a worldwide ban on wildlife trade. A significant aim of the community health system is to avoid SARS-CoV-2 transmission by limiting large gatherings. COVID-19 is transmitted by direct communication from individual to individual. Therefore, the key preventive technique is to limit mass gatherings. Table 3 shows the impact of lockdown measures on the recovery rate of COVID-19 infections. The baseline data for this table is the median value, for the corresponding day of the week, during the 5-week period 3 rd January to 6 th February 2020.

Mobility index report of different countries ( Ghosh, 2020 ; Johns Hopkins University (JHU), 2020 ; Worldometer, 2020 ).

As of today, no COVID-19 vaccine is available. Worldwide scientists are racing against time to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, and WHO is now monitoring more than 140 vaccine candidates. As of 29 th September 2020, about 122 candidates have been pre-clinically checked, i.e. determining whether an immune response is caused when administering the vaccine to animals ( Biorender, 2020 ). About 45 candidates are in stage I where tests on a small number of people are conducted to decide whether it is effective ( Biorender, 2020 ). About 29 candidates are in Phase II where hundreds of people are tested to assess additional health issues and doses ( Biorender, 2020 ). Only 14 candidates are currently in Phase III, where thousands of participants are taking a vaccine to assess any final safety concerns, especially with regard to side effects ( Biorender, 2020 ). 3 candidates are in Phase IV, where long-term effects of the vaccines on a larger population is observed ( Biorender, 2020 ). The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to gain approval by the end of 2020 or in early 2021 ( Peiris and Leung, 2020 ). It is anticipated that these vaccines will provide immunity to the population. These vaccines can also reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and lead to a resumption of a pre-COVID-19 normal. Table 4 shows the list of vaccines that have been passed in the pre-clinical stage. In addition, according to the COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutics tracker, there are 398 therapeutic drugs in development. Of these, 83 are in the pre-clinical phase, 100 in Phase I, 224 in Phase II, 119 in Phase III and 46 in Phase IV ( Biorender, 2020 ).

List of vaccines that have passed the pre-clinical stage ( Biorender, 2020 ).

In addition to the above, forestation and a worldwide ban on wildlife trade can also play a significant role in reducing the spread of different viruses. More than 30% of the ground area is covered with forests. The imminent increase in population contributes to deforestation in agriculture or grazing for food, industries and property. The rise in ambient temperature, sea levels and extreme weather events affects not only the land and environment but also public health ( Ruscio et al., 2015 ; Arora and Mishra, 2020 ). Huge investment has been made into treatments, rehabilitation and medications to avoid the impact of this epidemic. However, it is important to focus on basic measures, e.g. forestation and wildlife protection. The COVID-19 infection was initially spread from the Seafood Market, Wuhan, China. Therefore, China temporarily banned wildlife markets in which animals are kept alive in small cages. It has been reported that 60% of transmittable diseases are animal-borne, 70% of which are estimated to have been borne by wild animals ( Chakraborty and Maity, 2020 ). Deforestation is also related to various kinds of diseases caused by birds, bats, etc. ( Afelt et al., 2018 ). For example, COVID-19 is a bat-borne disease that is transmitted to humans. Therefore, several scientists have advised various countries to ban wildlife trade indefinitely so that humans can be protected from new viruses and global pandemics like COVID-19.

6. Conclusion

In this article, comprehensive analyses of energy, environmental pollution, and socio-economic impacts in the context of health emergency events and the global responses to mitigate the effects of these events have been provided. COVID-19 is a worldwide pandemic that puts a stop to economic activity and poses a severe risk to overall wellbeing. The global socio-economic impact of COVID-19 includes higher unemployment and poverty rates, lower oil prices, altered education sectors, changes in the nature of work, lower GDPs and heightened risks to health care workers. Thus, social preparedness, as a collaboration between leaders, health care workers and researchers to foster meaningful partnerships and devise strategies to achieve socio-economic prosperity, is required to tackle future pandemic-like situations. The impact on the energy sector includes increased residential energy demand due to a reduction in mobility and a change in the nature of work. Lockdowns across the globe have restricted movement and have placed people primarily at home, which has, in turn, decreased industrial and commercial energy demand as well as waste generation. This reduction in demand has resulted in substantial decreases in NO 2, PM, and environmental noise emissions and as a consequence, a significant reduction in environmental pollution. Sustainable urban management that takes into account the positive benefits of ecological balance is vital to the decrease of viral infections and other diseases. Policies that promote sustainable development, ensuring cities can enforce recommended measures like social distancing and self-isolation will bring an overall benefit very quickly. The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to gain approval by the end of 2020 or in early 2021, which will provide immunity to the population. It is necessary to establish preventive epidemiological models to detect the occurrence of viruses like COVID-19 in advance. In addition, governments, policymakers, and stakeholders around the world need to take necessary steps, such as ensuring healthcare services for all citizens, supporting those who are working in frontline services and suffering significant financial impacts, ensuring social distancing, and focussing on building a sustainable future. It is also recommended that more investment is required in research and development to overcome this pandemic and prevent any similar crisis in the future.

Declaration of Competing Interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

Editor: Dr. Syed Abdul Rehman Khan

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How to Write About Coronavirus in a College Essay

Students can share how they navigated life during the coronavirus pandemic in a full-length essay or an optional supplement.

Writing About COVID-19 in College Essays

Serious disabled woman concentrating on her work she sitting at her workplace and working on computer at office

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Experts say students should be honest and not limit themselves to merely their experiences with the pandemic.

The global impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, means colleges and prospective students alike are in for an admissions cycle like no other. Both face unprecedented challenges and questions as they grapple with their respective futures amid the ongoing fallout of the pandemic.

Colleges must examine applicants without the aid of standardized test scores for many – a factor that prompted many schools to go test-optional for now . Even grades, a significant component of a college application, may be hard to interpret with some high schools adopting pass-fail classes last spring due to the pandemic. Major college admissions factors are suddenly skewed.

"I can't help but think other (admissions) factors are going to matter more," says Ethan Sawyer, founder of the College Essay Guy, a website that offers free and paid essay-writing resources.

College essays and letters of recommendation , Sawyer says, are likely to carry more weight than ever in this admissions cycle. And many essays will likely focus on how the pandemic shaped students' lives throughout an often tumultuous 2020.

But before writing a college essay focused on the coronavirus, students should explore whether it's the best topic for them.

Writing About COVID-19 for a College Application

Much of daily life has been colored by the coronavirus. Virtual learning is the norm at many colleges and high schools, many extracurriculars have vanished and social lives have stalled for students complying with measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"For some young people, the pandemic took away what they envisioned as their senior year," says Robert Alexander, dean of admissions, financial aid and enrollment management at the University of Rochester in New York. "Maybe that's a spot on a varsity athletic team or the lead role in the fall play. And it's OK for them to mourn what should have been and what they feel like they lost, but more important is how are they making the most of the opportunities they do have?"

That question, Alexander says, is what colleges want answered if students choose to address COVID-19 in their college essay.

But the question of whether a student should write about the coronavirus is tricky. The answer depends largely on the student.

"In general, I don't think students should write about COVID-19 in their main personal statement for their application," Robin Miller, master college admissions counselor at IvyWise, a college counseling company, wrote in an email.

"Certainly, there may be exceptions to this based on a student's individual experience, but since the personal essay is the main place in the application where the student can really allow their voice to be heard and share insight into who they are as an individual, there are likely many other topics they can choose to write about that are more distinctive and unique than COVID-19," Miller says.

Opinions among admissions experts vary on whether to write about the likely popular topic of the pandemic.

"If your essay communicates something positive, unique, and compelling about you in an interesting and eloquent way, go for it," Carolyn Pippen, principal college admissions counselor at IvyWise, wrote in an email. She adds that students shouldn't be dissuaded from writing about a topic merely because it's common, noting that "topics are bound to repeat, no matter how hard we try to avoid it."

Above all, she urges honesty.

"If your experience within the context of the pandemic has been truly unique, then write about that experience, and the standing out will take care of itself," Pippen says. "If your experience has been generally the same as most other students in your context, then trying to find a unique angle can easily cross the line into exploiting a tragedy, or at least appearing as though you have."

But focusing entirely on the pandemic can limit a student to a single story and narrow who they are in an application, Sawyer says. "There are so many wonderful possibilities for what you can say about yourself outside of your experience within the pandemic."

He notes that passions, strengths, career interests and personal identity are among the multitude of essay topic options available to applicants and encourages them to probe their values to help determine the topic that matters most to them – and write about it.

That doesn't mean the pandemic experience has to be ignored if applicants feel the need to write about it.

Writing About Coronavirus in Main and Supplemental Essays

Students can choose to write a full-length college essay on the coronavirus or summarize their experience in a shorter form.

To help students explain how the pandemic affected them, The Common App has added an optional section to address this topic. Applicants have 250 words to describe their pandemic experience and the personal and academic impact of COVID-19.

"That's not a trick question, and there's no right or wrong answer," Alexander says. Colleges want to know, he adds, how students navigated the pandemic, how they prioritized their time, what responsibilities they took on and what they learned along the way.

If students can distill all of the above information into 250 words, there's likely no need to write about it in a full-length college essay, experts say. And applicants whose lives were not heavily altered by the pandemic may even choose to skip the optional COVID-19 question.

"This space is best used to discuss hardship and/or significant challenges that the student and/or the student's family experienced as a result of COVID-19 and how they have responded to those difficulties," Miller notes. Using the section to acknowledge a lack of impact, she adds, "could be perceived as trite and lacking insight, despite the good intentions of the applicant."

To guard against this lack of awareness, Sawyer encourages students to tap someone they trust to review their writing , whether it's the 250-word Common App response or the full-length essay.

Experts tend to agree that the short-form approach to this as an essay topic works better, but there are exceptions. And if a student does have a coronavirus story that he or she feels must be told, Alexander encourages the writer to be authentic in the essay.

"My advice for an essay about COVID-19 is the same as my advice about an essay for any topic – and that is, don't write what you think we want to read or hear," Alexander says. "Write what really changed you and that story that now is yours and yours alone to tell."

Sawyer urges students to ask themselves, "What's the sentence that only I can write?" He also encourages students to remember that the pandemic is only a chapter of their lives and not the whole book.

Miller, who cautions against writing a full-length essay on the coronavirus, says that if students choose to do so they should have a conversation with their high school counselor about whether that's the right move. And if students choose to proceed with COVID-19 as a topic, she says they need to be clear, detailed and insightful about what they learned and how they adapted along the way.

"Approaching the essay in this manner will provide important balance while demonstrating personal growth and vulnerability," Miller says.

Pippen encourages students to remember that they are in an unprecedented time for college admissions.

"It is important to keep in mind with all of these (admission) factors that no colleges have ever had to consider them this way in the selection process, if at all," Pippen says. "They have had very little time to calibrate their evaluations of different application components within their offices, let alone across institutions. This means that colleges will all be handling the admissions process a little bit differently, and their approaches may even evolve over the course of the admissions cycle."

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Essay on COVID-19 Pandemic

As a result of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, daily life has been negatively affected, impacting the worldwide economy. Thousands of individuals have been sickened or died as a result of the outbreak of this disease. When you have the flu or a viral infection, the most common symptoms include fever, cold, coughing up bone fragments, and difficulty breathing, which may progress to pneumonia. It’s important to take major steps like keeping a strict cleaning routine, keeping social distance, and wearing masks, among other things. This virus’s geographic spread is accelerating (Daniel Pg 93). Governments restricted public meetings during the start of the pandemic to prevent the disease from spreading and breaking the exponential distribution curve. In order to avoid the damage caused by this extremely contagious disease, several countries quarantined their citizens. However, this scenario had drastically altered with the discovery of the vaccinations. The research aims to investigate the effect of the Covid-19 epidemic and its impact on the population’s well-being.

There is growing interest in the relationship between social determinants of health and health outcomes. Still, many health care providers and academics have been hesitant to recognize racism as a contributing factor to racial health disparities. Only a few research have examined the health effects of institutional racism, with the majority focusing on interpersonal racial and ethnic prejudice Ciotti et al., Pg 370. The latter comprises historically and culturally connected institutions that are interconnected. Prejudice is being practiced in a variety of contexts as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In some ways, the outbreak has exposed pre-existing bias and inequity.

Thousands of businesses are in danger of failure. Around 2.3 billion of the world’s 3.3 billion employees are out of work. These workers are especially susceptible since they lack access to social security and adequate health care, and they’ve also given up ownership of productive assets, which makes them highly vulnerable. Many individuals lose their employment as a result of lockdowns, leaving them unable to support their families. People strapped for cash are often forced to reduce their caloric intake while also eating less nutritiously (Fraser et al, Pg 3). The epidemic has had an impact on the whole food chain, revealing vulnerabilities that were previously hidden. Border closures, trade restrictions, and confinement measures have limited farmer access to markets, while agricultural workers have not gathered crops. As a result, the local and global food supply chain has been disrupted, and people now have less access to healthy foods. As a consequence of the epidemic, many individuals have lost their employment, and millions more are now in danger. When breadwinners lose their jobs, become sick, or die, the food and nutrition of millions of people are endangered. Particularly severely hit are the world’s poorest small farmers and indigenous peoples.

Infectious illness outbreaks and epidemics have become worldwide threats due to globalization, urbanization, and environmental change. In developed countries like Europe and North America, surveillance and health systems monitor and manage the spread of infectious illnesses in real-time. Both low- and high-income countries need to improve their public health capacities (Omer et al., Pg 1767). These improvements should be financed using a mix of national and foreign donor money. In order to speed up research and reaction for new illnesses with pandemic potential, a global collaborative effort including governments and commercial companies has been proposed. When working on a vaccine-like COVID-19, cooperation is critical.

The epidemic has had an impact on the whole food chain, revealing vulnerabilities that were previously hidden. Border closures, trade restrictions, and confinement measures have limited farmer access to markets, while agricultural workers have been unable to gather crops. As a result, the local and global food supply chain has been disrupted, and people now have less access to healthy foods (Daniel et al.,Pg 95) . As a consequence of the epidemic, many individuals have lost their employment, and millions more are now in danger. When breadwinners lose their jobs, the food and nutrition of millions of people are endangered. Particularly severely hit are the world’s poorest small farmers and indigenous peoples.

While helping to feed the world’s population, millions of paid and unpaid agricultural laborers suffer from high levels of poverty, hunger, and bad health, as well as a lack of safety and labor safeguards, as well as other kinds of abuse at work. Poor people, who have no recourse to social assistance, must work longer and harder, sometimes in hazardous occupations, endangering their families in the process (Daniel Pg 96). When faced with a lack of income, people may turn to hazardous financial activities, including asset liquidation, predatory lending, or child labor, to make ends meet. Because of the dangers they encounter while traveling, working, and living abroad; migrant agricultural laborers are especially vulnerable. They also have a difficult time taking advantage of government assistance programs.

The pandemic also has a significant impact on education. Although many educational institutions across the globe have already made the switch to online learning, the extent to which technology is utilized to improve the quality of distance or online learning varies. This level is dependent on several variables, including the different parties engaged in the execution of this learning format and the incorporation of technology into educational institutions before the time of school closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many years, researchers from all around the globe have worked to determine what variables contribute to effective technology integration in the classroom Ciotti et al., Pg 371. The amount of technology usage and the quality of learning when moving from a classroom to a distant or online format are presumed to be influenced by the same set of variables. Findings from previous research, which sought to determine what affects educational systems ability to integrate technology into teaching, suggest understanding how teachers, students, and technology interact positively in order to achieve positive results in the integration of teaching technology (Honey et al., 2000). Teachers’ views on teaching may affect the chances of successfully incorporating technology into the classroom and making it a part of the learning process.

In conclusion, indeed, Covid 19 pandemic have affected the well being of the people in a significant manner. The economy operation across the globe have been destabilized as most of the people have been rendered jobless while the job operation has been stopped. As most of the people have been rendered jobless the living conditions of the people have also been significantly affected. Besides, the education sector has also been affected as most of the learning institutions prefer the use of online learning which is not effective as compared to the traditional method. With the invention of the vaccines, most of the developed countries have been noted to stabilize slowly, while the developing countries have not been able to vaccinate most of its citizens. However, despite the challenge caused by the pandemic, organizations have been able to adapt the new mode of online trading to be promoted.

Ciotti, Marco, et al. “The COVID-19 pandemic.”  Critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences  57.6 (2020): 365-388.

Daniel, John. “Education and the COVID-19 pandemic.”  Prospects  49.1 (2020): 91-96.

Fraser, Nicholas, et al. “Preprinting the COVID-19 pandemic.”  BioRxiv  (2021): 2020-05.

Omer, Saad B., Preeti Malani, and Carlos Del Rio. “The COVID-19 pandemic in the US: a clinical update.”  Jama  323.18 (2020): 1767-1768.

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  • Volume 76, Issue 2
  • COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on social relationships and health
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  • http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1512-4471 Emily Long 1 ,
  • Susan Patterson 1 ,
  • Karen Maxwell 1 ,
  • Carolyn Blake 1 ,
  • http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7342-4566 Raquel Bosó Pérez 1 ,
  • Ruth Lewis 1 ,
  • Mark McCann 1 ,
  • Julie Riddell 1 ,
  • Kathryn Skivington 1 ,
  • Rachel Wilson-Lowe 1 ,
  • http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4409-6601 Kirstin R Mitchell 2
  • 1 MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit , University of Glasgow , Glasgow , UK
  • 2 MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Institute of Health & Wellbeing , University of Glasgow , Glasgow , UK
  • Correspondence to Dr Emily Long, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G3 7HR, UK; emily.long{at}glasgow.ac.uk

This essay examines key aspects of social relationships that were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses explicitly on relational mechanisms of health and brings together theory and emerging evidence on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to make recommendations for future public health policy and recovery. We first provide an overview of the pandemic in the UK context, outlining the nature of the public health response. We then introduce four distinct domains of social relationships: social networks, social support, social interaction and intimacy, highlighting the mechanisms through which the pandemic and associated public health response drastically altered social interactions in each domain. Throughout the essay, the lens of health inequalities, and perspective of relationships as interconnecting elements in a broader system, is used to explore the varying impact of these disruptions. The essay concludes by providing recommendations for longer term recovery ensuring that the social relational cost of COVID-19 is adequately considered in efforts to rebuild.

  • inequalities

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Infectious disease pandemics, including SARS and COVID-19, demand intrapersonal behaviour change and present highly complex challenges for public health. 1 A pandemic of an airborne infection, spread easily through social contact, assails human relationships by drastically altering the ways through which humans interact. In this essay, we draw on theories of social relationships to examine specific ways in which relational mechanisms key to health and well-being were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Relational mechanisms refer to the processes between people that lead to change in health outcomes.

At the time of writing, the future surrounding COVID-19 was uncertain. Vaccine programmes were being rolled out in countries that could afford them, but new and more contagious variants of the virus were also being discovered. The recovery journey looked long, with continued disruption to social relationships. The social cost of COVID-19 was only just beginning to emerge, but the mental health impact was already considerable, 2 3 and the inequality of the health burden stark. 4 Knowledge of the epidemiology of COVID-19 accrued rapidly, but evidence of the most effective policy responses remained uncertain.

The initial response to COVID-19 in the UK was reactive and aimed at reducing mortality, with little time to consider the social implications, including for interpersonal and community relationships. The terminology of ‘social distancing’ quickly became entrenched both in public and policy discourse. This equation of physical distance with social distance was regrettable, since only physical proximity causes viral transmission, whereas many forms of social proximity (eg, conversations while walking outdoors) are minimal risk, and are crucial to maintaining relationships supportive of health and well-being.

The aim of this essay is to explore four key relational mechanisms that were impacted by the pandemic and associated restrictions: social networks, social support, social interaction and intimacy. We use relational theories and emerging research on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic response to make three key recommendations: one regarding public health responses; and two regarding social recovery. Our understanding of these mechanisms stems from a ‘systems’ perspective which casts social relationships as interdependent elements within a connected whole. 5

Social networks

Social networks characterise the individuals and social connections that compose a system (such as a workplace, community or society). Social relationships range from spouses and partners, to coworkers, friends and acquaintances. They vary across many dimensions, including, for example, frequency of contact and emotional closeness. Social networks can be understood both in terms of the individuals and relationships that compose the network, as well as the overall network structure (eg, how many of your friends know each other).

Social networks show a tendency towards homophily, or a phenomenon of associating with individuals who are similar to self. 6 This is particularly true for ‘core’ network ties (eg, close friends), while more distant, sometimes called ‘weak’ ties tend to show more diversity. During the height of COVID-19 restrictions, face-to-face interactions were often reduced to core network members, such as partners, family members or, potentially, live-in roommates; some ‘weak’ ties were lost, and interactions became more limited to those closest. Given that peripheral, weaker social ties provide a diversity of resources, opinions and support, 7 COVID-19 likely resulted in networks that were smaller and more homogenous.

Such changes were not inevitable nor necessarily enduring, since social networks are also adaptive and responsive to change, in that a disruption to usual ways of interacting can be replaced by new ways of engaging (eg, Zoom). Yet, important inequalities exist, wherein networks and individual relationships within networks are not equally able to adapt to such changes. For example, individuals with a large number of newly established relationships (eg, university students) may have struggled to transfer these relationships online, resulting in lost contacts and a heightened risk of social isolation. This is consistent with research suggesting that young adults were the most likely to report a worsening of relationships during COVID-19, whereas older adults were the least likely to report a change. 8

Lastly, social connections give rise to emergent properties of social systems, 9 where a community-level phenomenon develops that cannot be attributed to any one member or portion of the network. For example, local area-based networks emerged due to geographic restrictions (eg, stay-at-home orders), resulting in increases in neighbourly support and local volunteering. 10 In fact, research suggests that relationships with neighbours displayed the largest net gain in ratings of relationship quality compared with a range of relationship types (eg, partner, colleague, friend). 8 Much of this was built from spontaneous individual interactions within local communities, which together contributed to the ‘community spirit’ that many experienced. 11 COVID-19 restrictions thus impacted the personal social networks and the structure of the larger networks within the society.

Social support

Social support, referring to the psychological and material resources provided through social interaction, is a critical mechanism through which social relationships benefit health. In fact, social support has been shown to be one of the most important resilience factors in the aftermath of stressful events. 12 In the context of COVID-19, the usual ways in which individuals interact and obtain social support have been severely disrupted.

One such disruption has been to opportunities for spontaneous social interactions. For example, conversations with colleagues in a break room offer an opportunity for socialising beyond one’s core social network, and these peripheral conversations can provide a form of social support. 13 14 A chance conversation may lead to advice helpful to coping with situations or seeking formal help. Thus, the absence of these spontaneous interactions may mean the reduction of indirect support-seeking opportunities. While direct support-seeking behaviour is more effective at eliciting support, it also requires significantly more effort and may be perceived as forceful and burdensome. 15 The shift to homeworking and closure of community venues reduced the number of opportunities for these spontaneous interactions to occur, and has, second, focused them locally. Consequently, individuals whose core networks are located elsewhere, or who live in communities where spontaneous interaction is less likely, have less opportunity to benefit from spontaneous in-person supportive interactions.

However, alongside this disruption, new opportunities to interact and obtain social support have arisen. The surge in community social support during the initial lockdown mirrored that often seen in response to adverse events (eg, natural disasters 16 ). COVID-19 restrictions that confined individuals to their local area also compelled them to focus their in-person efforts locally. Commentators on the initial lockdown in the UK remarked on extraordinary acts of generosity between individuals who belonged to the same community but were unknown to each other. However, research on adverse events also tells us that such community support is not necessarily maintained in the longer term. 16

Meanwhile, online forms of social support are not bound by geography, thus enabling interactions and social support to be received from a wider network of people. Formal online social support spaces (eg, support groups) existed well before COVID-19, but have vastly increased since. While online interactions can increase perceived social support, it is unclear whether remote communication technologies provide an effective substitute from in-person interaction during periods of social distancing. 17 18 It makes intuitive sense that the usefulness of online social support will vary by the type of support offered, degree of social interaction and ‘online communication skills’ of those taking part. Youth workers, for instance, have struggled to keep vulnerable youth engaged in online youth clubs, 19 despite others finding a positive association between amount of digital technology used by individuals during lockdown and perceived social support. 20 Other research has found that more frequent face-to-face contact and phone/video contact both related to lower levels of depression during the time period of March to August 2020, but the negative effect of a lack of contact was greater for those with higher levels of usual sociability. 21 Relatedly, important inequalities in social support exist, such that individuals who occupy more socially disadvantaged positions in society (eg, low socioeconomic status, older people) tend to have less access to social support, 22 potentially exacerbated by COVID-19.

Social and interactional norms

Interactional norms are key relational mechanisms which build trust, belonging and identity within and across groups in a system. Individuals in groups and societies apply meaning by ‘approving, arranging and redefining’ symbols of interaction. 23 A handshake, for instance, is a powerful symbol of trust and equality. Depending on context, not shaking hands may symbolise a failure to extend friendship, or a failure to reach agreement. The norms governing these symbols represent shared values and identity; and mutual understanding of these symbols enables individuals to achieve orderly interactions, establish supportive relationship accountability and connect socially. 24 25

Physical distancing measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 radically altered these norms of interaction, particularly those used to convey trust, affinity, empathy and respect (eg, hugging, physical comforting). 26 As epidemic waves rose and fell, the work to negotiate these norms required intense cognitive effort; previously taken-for-granted interactions were re-examined, factoring in current restriction levels, own and (assumed) others’ vulnerability and tolerance of risk. This created awkwardness, and uncertainty, for example, around how to bring closure to an in-person interaction or convey warmth. The instability in scripted ways of interacting created particular strain for individuals who already struggled to encode and decode interactions with others (eg, those who are deaf or have autism spectrum disorder); difficulties often intensified by mask wearing. 27

Large social gatherings—for example, weddings, school assemblies, sporting events—also present key opportunities for affirming and assimilating interactional norms, building cohesion and shared identity and facilitating cooperation across social groups. 28 Online ‘equivalents’ do not easily support ‘social-bonding’ activities such as singing and dancing, and rarely enable chance/spontaneous one-on-one conversations with peripheral/weaker network ties (see the Social networks section) which can help strengthen bonds across a larger network. The loss of large gatherings to celebrate rites of passage (eg, bar mitzvah, weddings) has additional relational costs since these events are performed by and for communities to reinforce belonging, and to assist in transitioning to new phases of life. 29 The loss of interaction with diverse others via community and large group gatherings also reduces intergroup contact, which may then tend towards more prejudiced outgroup attitudes. While online interaction can go some way to mimicking these interaction norms, there are key differences. A sense of anonymity, and lack of in-person emotional cues, tends to support norms of polarisation and aggression in expressing differences of opinion online. And while online platforms have potential to provide intergroup contact, the tendency of much social media to form homogeneous ‘echo chambers’ can serve to further reduce intergroup contact. 30 31

Intimacy relates to the feeling of emotional connection and closeness with other human beings. Emotional connection, through romantic, friendship or familial relationships, fulfils a basic human need 32 and strongly benefits health, including reduced stress levels, improved mental health, lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease. 32 33 Intimacy can be fostered through familiarity, feeling understood and feeling accepted by close others. 34

Intimacy via companionship and closeness is fundamental to mental well-being. Positively, the COVID-19 pandemic has offered opportunities for individuals to (re)connect and (re)strengthen close relationships within their household via quality time together, following closure of many usual external social activities. Research suggests that the first full UK lockdown period led to a net gain in the quality of steady relationships at a population level, 35 but amplified existing inequalities in relationship quality. 35 36 For some in single-person households, the absence of a companion became more conspicuous, leading to feelings of loneliness and lower mental well-being. 37 38 Additional pandemic-related relational strain 39 40 resulted, for some, in the initiation or intensification of domestic abuse. 41 42

Physical touch is another key aspect of intimacy, a fundamental human need crucial in maintaining and developing intimacy within close relationships. 34 Restrictions on social interactions severely restricted the number and range of people with whom physical affection was possible. The reduction in opportunity to give and receive affectionate physical touch was not experienced equally. Many of those living alone found themselves completely without physical contact for extended periods. The deprivation of physical touch is evidenced to take a heavy emotional toll. 43 Even in future, once physical expressions of affection can resume, new levels of anxiety over germs may introduce hesitancy into previously fluent blending of physical and verbal intimate social connections. 44

The pandemic also led to shifts in practices and norms around sexual relationship building and maintenance, as individuals adapted and sought alternative ways of enacting sexual intimacy. This too is important, given that intimate sexual activity has known benefits for health. 45 46 Given that social restrictions hinged on reducing household mixing, possibilities for partnered sexual activity were primarily guided by living arrangements. While those in cohabiting relationships could potentially continue as before, those who were single or in non-cohabiting relationships generally had restricted opportunities to maintain their sexual relationships. Pornography consumption and digital partners were reported to increase since lockdown. 47 However, online interactions are qualitatively different from in-person interactions and do not provide the same opportunities for physical intimacy.

Recommendations and conclusions

In the sections above we have outlined the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted social relationships, showing how relational mechanisms key to health have been undermined. While some of the damage might well self-repair after the pandemic, there are opportunities inherent in deliberative efforts to build back in ways that facilitate greater resilience in social and community relationships. We conclude by making three recommendations: one regarding public health responses to the pandemic; and two regarding social recovery.

Recommendation 1: explicitly count the relational cost of public health policies to control the pandemic

Effective handling of a pandemic recognises that social, economic and health concerns are intricately interwoven. It is clear that future research and policy attention must focus on the social consequences. As described above, policies which restrict physical mixing across households carry heavy and unequal relational costs. These include for individuals (eg, loss of intimate touch), dyads (eg, loss of warmth, comfort), networks (eg, restricted access to support) and communities (eg, loss of cohesion and identity). Such costs—and their unequal impact—should not be ignored in short-term efforts to control an epidemic. Some public health responses—restrictions on international holiday travel and highly efficient test and trace systems—have relatively small relational costs and should be prioritised. At a national level, an earlier move to proportionate restrictions, and investment in effective test and trace systems, may help prevent escalation of spread to the point where a national lockdown or tight restrictions became an inevitability. Where policies with relational costs are unavoidable, close attention should be paid to the unequal relational impact for those whose personal circumstances differ from normative assumptions of two adult families. This includes consideration of whether expectations are fair (eg, for those who live alone), whether restrictions on social events are equitable across age group, religious/ethnic groupings and social class, and also to ensure that the language promoted by such policies (eg, households; families) is not exclusionary. 48 49 Forethought to unequal impacts on social relationships should thus be integral to the work of epidemic preparedness teams.

Recommendation 2: intelligently balance online and offline ways of relating

A key ingredient for well-being is ‘getting together’ in a physical sense. This is fundamental to a human need for intimate touch, physical comfort, reinforcing interactional norms and providing practical support. Emerging evidence suggests that online ways of relating cannot simply replace physical interactions. But online interaction has many benefits and for some it offers connections that did not exist previously. In particular, online platforms provide new forms of support for those unable to access offline services because of mobility issues (eg, older people) or because they are geographically isolated from their support community (eg, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth). Ultimately, multiple forms of online and offline social interactions are required to meet the needs of varying groups of people (eg, LGBTQ, older people). Future research and practice should aim to establish ways of using offline and online support in complementary and even synergistic ways, rather than veering between them as social restrictions expand and contract. Intelligent balancing of online and offline ways of relating also pertains to future policies on home and flexible working. A decision to switch to wholesale or obligatory homeworking should consider the risk to relational ‘group properties’ of the workplace community and their impact on employees’ well-being, focusing in particular on unequal impacts (eg, new vs established employees). Intelligent blending of online and in-person working is required to achieve flexibility while also nurturing supportive networks at work. Intelligent balance also implies strategies to build digital literacy and minimise digital exclusion, as well as coproducing solutions with intended beneficiaries.

Recommendation 3: build stronger and sustainable localised communities

In balancing offline and online ways of interacting, there is opportunity to capitalise on the potential for more localised, coherent communities due to scaled-down travel, homeworking and local focus that will ideally continue after restrictions end. There are potential economic benefits after the pandemic, such as increased trade as home workers use local resources (eg, coffee shops), but also relational benefits from stronger relationships around the orbit of the home and neighbourhood. Experience from previous crises shows that community volunteer efforts generated early on will wane over time in the absence of deliberate work to maintain them. Adequately funded partnerships between local government, third sector and community groups are required to sustain community assets that began as a direct response to the pandemic. Such partnerships could work to secure green spaces and indoor (non-commercial) meeting spaces that promote community interaction. Green spaces in particular provide a triple benefit in encouraging physical activity and mental health, as well as facilitating social bonding. 50 In building local communities, small community networks—that allow for diversity and break down ingroup/outgroup views—may be more helpful than the concept of ‘support bubbles’, which are exclusionary and less sustainable in the longer term. Rigorously designed intervention and evaluation—taking a systems approach—will be crucial in ensuring scale-up and sustainability.

The dramatic change to social interaction necessitated by efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 created stark challenges but also opportunities. Our essay highlights opportunities for learning, both to ensure the equity and humanity of physical restrictions, and to sustain the salutogenic effects of social relationships going forward. The starting point for capitalising on this learning is recognition of the disruption to relational mechanisms as a key part of the socioeconomic and health impact of the pandemic. In recovery planning, a general rule is that what is good for decreasing health inequalities (such as expanding social protection and public services and pursuing green inclusive growth strategies) 4 will also benefit relationships and safeguard relational mechanisms for future generations. Putting this into action will require political will.

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Not required.

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Twitter @karenmaxSPHSU, @Mark_McCann, @Rwilsonlowe, @KMitchinGlasgow

Contributors EL and KM led on the manuscript conceptualisation, review and editing. SP, KM, CB, RBP, RL, MM, JR, KS and RW-L contributed to drafting and revising the article. All authors assisted in revising the final draft.

Funding The research reported in this publication was supported by the Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00022/1, MC_UU_00022/3) and the Chief Scientist Office (SPHSU11, SPHSU14). EL is also supported by MRC Skills Development Fellowship Award (MR/S015078/1). KS and MM are also supported by a Medical Research Council Strategic Award (MC_PC_13027).

Competing interests None declared.

Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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