Much of Southeast Asia is reopening after the pandemic. This is one example of a larger trend: Covid receding from being a ‘pandemic’ to being ‘endemic’—something we mostly ‘just deal with,’ like the common cold or flu.
But, like the future, the ability to ‘just deal with’ Covid is not equally distributed. It’s easier for some countries—the richer ones, with easy and widespread access to vaccines and better health care. Moreover, when new medicines and new treatments are developed for Covid, rich countries can quickly order and implement them. The new pills from Merck and Pfizer are just the latest examples. Within my own circles, people who had Covid were able to be treated with monoclonal antibodies—something that even a few months ago was only available to very few people. All of these treatments are amazing advances, and we of course are very thankful for them.
But the future, as usual, is unequally distributed. Poorer countries (especially 10/40 Window countries) will be at a much harder disadvantage. While 4 billion doses of vaccine have been administered around the world, only 1% of people living in low-income countries have received even one dose. When Covid sweeps through, it’s devastating, and quickly overwhelms the inadequate health systems in those places. Many of those countries don’t have vaccinations or medicines available, and when Covid sweeps through it will be devastating.
To complicate matters, rich countries will see poor countries where Covid circulates as a danger. Rich countries would prefer not to have Covid enter their borders at all. So places with amazing medical technologies will keep barriers raised against places lacking the ability to vaccinate or treat. As travel barriers come down, note that countries are permitting visitors from specific countries where Covid is being managed (the USA, for example, permits visitors from 30 countries)—and not from others, where it is not. The intersection between places that can’t vaccinate and places with unreached peoples will have a strong overlap.
Workers who go into those places will be enduring risks for the Gospel which wouldn’t have been thought about two years ago. The world changed in 2020. Now, it is set to change again. Many of the sending nations may very well lose sight of the dangers endured by the receiving nations where the unreached live—until a prospective worker needs to explain to her family why she is not only willing to leave hearth and home, but the sizable risks she will likely have to face.