Now that COVID lockdowns in Australia have lifted and the nation’s borders have reopened, Professor Arbon says we should be focusing on what the next pandemic could hold.
“It’s related to the fact that we have seen more infectious agents that exist in animal populations translating into the human population over recent years,” he says.
“This phenomenon is related to climate change and environmental degradation because as the environment changes, more people are exposed to diseases that they were not exposed to previously.
“There is a scientific link between climate change, the environment, and the emergence of new infectious diseases. So, my argument is that it's the next pandemic that we should be focusing on now.”
One impact of COVID-19 that TRI has explored is the cross-scale effects of information disorder on societal resilience and social cohesion.
Information disorder is the sharing of false information with or without intent to harm.
COVID has provided TRI with the ideal case study for the analysis of information disorder, which escalates during times of large-scale disruption and in the pandemic’s case, particularly around mask wearing, vaccine mandates and lockdowns.
In our modern world, we are more connected than ever and have constant and overwhelming exposure to information.
When the media runs sensational headlines or we read extreme views on social media, propagated for example by anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine movements, it is very difficult to sort through and work out what we should be doing to protect our friends and families.
“The real problem in an event like a pandemic is that there's too much information for most of us to manage and we don't know which of the competing views is useful or truthful,” Professor Arbon says.