Simon Jones: Change on the horizon
Author: Simon Jones
News earlier this week of findings from BioNtech and Pfizer’s late stage clinical trial results on its Covid-19 vaccine gave the entire world cause for optimism heading into 2021. Stock markets rallied, the values of airlines rocketed, and normally cautious politicians and experts started to talk about a return to normality – possibly as early as spring 2021.
Without wanting to sound like a party pooper, optimism and hope should, at the moment at least, be tempered by some of the questions that remain. Cases of Covid-19 vary greatly, and we don’t know if the vaccine will protect against mild, moderate or severe cases or even how long a vaccine will be effective for. Similarly, we also don’t know if the vaccine can block transmission in asymptomatic people, because it’s ultimately this that will allow us to truly move on from the pandemic.
In most scenarios, the baseline for what we remember as normal in optics has changed and is unlikely to return. The case for increased use of remote technologies was presented to the sector with little-to-no resistance, because they suited the conditions and restrictions imposed on the industry at the time. Not because they were ready for widespread adoption.
To my mind, we find ourselves with Pandora’s box prised open by the pandemic. For the past decade, I have written about different technologies that will have a direct impact on the way high street optometry is carried out. Covid-19 has laid the foundations for pretty much all of them.
My own concern is that remote technology hasn’t really been on the radar of regulators and associations until now. Even before the GOC’s unwavering focus on the Education Strategic Review in recent years, remote testing technology didn’t exactly seem like a top priority for the organisation. Policing future technology might be a challenge that cannot be met.