Seven months after the first reported cases of COVID-19, the pandemic has disrupted every aspect of life, leaving many shuttered and disordered, having to find new ways to communicate, work and care for family and communities and thus creating ‘new normals’.

This level of neonormalcy poses very significant challenges, yet at the same time has the potential to create space to transform the status quo. This is an opportunity for the scientific enterprise, if we can leverage it, to ensure that we are in a position where we have the science needed to continue to innovate and meet the needs of neonormalcy world of today and in the post-pandemic future.

In a “necessity is the mother of invention” moment, we have seen scientific enterprises being nimble and inclusive in response to the challenges of this new normals. This demonstrates that it is possible to adapt and deliver what researchers and the world needs from science in a post-COVID-19 future.

As scientists, we are taught to think of disruptive forces as those that can produce seismic changes. The pandemic is just such a force for science. During and after this pandemic, we should expect to create paradigm-shifting innovations to the scientific enterprise. Anything less would be a missed opportunity for science and society.

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© 2020 by National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH)
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