Despite ongoing vaccination efforts, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will persist well beyond 2021. Israel and several other countries with high vaccination coverage have seen surges in COVID-19 cases even higher than 2020 levels, showing that a complete return to pre-pandemic life without some face masking and social distancing is unlikely.
Instead, education, work and other aspects of public life will continue operating in hybrid mode. Wary of reimposing sweeping lockdowns as seen in the early stages of the pandemic, governments will rely on encouraging booster shots, distancing and restricting public life for unvaccinated individuals as mitigating measures. Hospitality and travel industries are expected to be harder hit by the uncertainties of the hybrid world, while further supply chain disruptions and worker shortages for other sectors cannot be ruled out.
Despite some resumption of international travel, the Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) forecasts that air traffic in Europe will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025, while London Heathrow Airport also does not expect to recover full air traffic until 2026.
Transitioning back to a pre-pandemic state will entail continuing vaccination efforts – including expanding vaccine access in developing countries – as well as combating misinformation and backlash against health measures.