When people wonder how life will be once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, they probably focus on their personal situations.

Those will depend on a lot of unknowns: How long it goes on for; what toll it has on the global economy and how it affects people's jobs and families.

Will life boomerang back to its old patterns? Will more people end up working from home rather than an office in future? Will frustrated travellers be able to go on that postponed holiday? Will our favourite cafes be able to reopen? Will it seem strange passing others on the same footpath again rather than crossing the road or skirting the berm for a 2m-wide berth?

While it's natural to focus on the personal, the impacts of the coronavirus beyond our bubbles are likely to be widespread and profound because of the changes it has spurred and questions it has raised.

Here, there's optimism that the authorities can use the lockdown to lower case numbers. The public will likely support a clear, steady plan delivered with competence even with fear of the side-effects.

Overseas, few countries have enhanced their reputations during the crisis. Some wealthy first-world nations have looked anything but. Key leaders have floundered with muddled messaging.

We've seen the basic fragility of the global financial system – now swallowing trillions in stimulus - and the results of governments' questionable spending priorities and short-term policy-making laid bare.

Covid-19 has ruthlessly blasted illusions, particularly in the United States, where the federal Government was initially slow to act, and governors are still demanding more medical equipment from Washington.

Nurses at a New York hospital reportedly wore rubbish bags because of a lack of protective gear. Corporations are donating masks, and states are competing for available supplies. Healthcare workers have likened the situation to being asked to go into battle without armour.

In the world's sole superpower, where should money have gone: On tax cuts and fighter jets; or on hospital ventilators, expanded health coverage and preparation to fight pandemics?

A bright spot in Europe has been Germany, which has had more than 63,900 coronavirus cases but about 560 fatalities - about seven deaths per one million people. The country has focused heavily on extensive testing.


Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

The lockdowns in some areas have had interesting effects. Satellites have captured reductions in pollution. It seems likely stay-at-home measures will mean less crime and fewer car accidents. California's governor, Gavin Newsom, noted that hospitals in his state had seen a decrease in traumas.

The virus has particularly shown the precarious week-by-week financial existence of most people. In the US, nearly 3.3 million people have already filed unemployment claims. People everywhere have few savings. Small businesses have little fat. The trend for countries to make direct payments to individuals or subsidise the wages of workers if businesses keep them on, opens a different policy door.

The crisis has reminded us of the value of scientific expertise, and the professionalism, compassion and bravery of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers.

But it has also highlighted the unheralded work of many shop staff, food suppliers, cleaners and delivery people who keep the world's wheels turning.