COVID-19 has become the biggest global challenge since World War II, which has disrupted all aspects of human life worldwide. The numerous uncertainties, unpredictable direction of the pandemic, and psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, humanitarian, and development consequences of the pandemic have led to the most dangerous threat to health, social welfare, global economy, and well-being in recent history. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has called pandemic “the most challenging crisis since World War II” that can negatively affect all efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) over the years. The pandemic has already returned the economy of a number of industrialized nations back to 20 years ago.
In the context of COVID-19 outbreak and the lack of vaccines and definitive treatment, different countries have been adopting various spectrum of policies to control the disease and mitigate the risks. Consequently, countries have been facing various challenges including economic recession; insufficient supply of necessary products such as disinfectants, personal protective equipment, and other medical products; and increasing unemployment, which can lead to mental health problems such as stress and anxiety, many of which are beyond global health and well-being. Nevertheless, the precise impact of this ongoing global catastrophe can only be accurately assessed when the epidemic ends or even some years after the vaccine becomes equally accessible. In this context, it is crucial to turn the outbreak to a learning curve, aiming to prevent greater losses during similar future pandemics.
In this chapter we aim to discuss challenges and opportunities caused by the novel coronavirus for global health, its intended and unintended consequences to achieve SDGs as well as the policy lessons learned from this outbreak.