As countries start coming out of lockdown, scientists and experts are beginning to piece together bits of the puzzle about life with coronavirus. Whilst our best hope is a vaccine or the virus mutating to a less lethal strain, so far, the news is not great. Here is just some of what we know so far:
Four coronaviruses already circulate in human beings. They cause common cold symptoms and we don’t have vaccines for any of them. According to the World Health Organisation the virus may never go away.
Immunity to Covid-19 may not last, with researchers at MIT saying people could catch coronaviruses twice in the same year. We need to consider the impact of coronavirus returning every year like the common cold. Most experts think a vaccine is likely to become available by mid-2021, about 12-18 months after the new virus, known officially as Sars-CoV-2, first emerged.
It is believed that 60-70% of people needed to be immune to the virus in order to stop it spreading easily (known as herd immunity). But that would be billions of people around the world if the vaccine worked perfectly.
“What is unique is we have to go so fast and so huge,” says Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson. “When Ebola was a problem in Central Africa, with a few hundred thousand vaccines you could get it under control. Here you need billions of vaccines.”
A vaccine would need to reach all corners of the world in order to effectively tackle the virus. Distribution is going to be a huge challenge, particularly when it comes to the last mile.
The pandemic’s economic impact will be stark. Half the world’s workers, 1.9 billion people, may see livelihood destroyed.
It is clear that people and businesses need to adapt their behaviours and strategies taking into considering the long-term implication of life with coronavirus.
Is this the start of a new age?
Even before coronavirus, people looked around and could see we are living in revolutionary times. Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Intelligent robots. Artificial Intelligence. Nano-technologies. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing. All these new developments offer evidence of transformative change happening at exponential speed. The World Economic Forum calls this new revolution the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we think they could have been more creative in their naming.
History shows us there are these rare moments, when forces of progress collide – Viruses are a result of civilization, in particular rapid urban migration and species/environmental destruction – sometimes violently and a brave new world emerges. The Industrial Revolution, The Renaissance and The Age of Discovery all started with stormy periods of social, technological, environmental and ideological collision that disrupted the landscape transmuting a new age.
To gain a better gauge of whether or not we are at the start of a new age, in addition to coronavirus, we are tracking seven powerful forces. These forces – listed below – will require companies to rethink how they operate in virtually every area from channel delivery, to pricing and procurement to supply chains, sales, marketing and cybersecurity:
Force One: Other pandemics
Force Two: Climate change
Force Three: AI, Automation and the loss of jobs
Force Four: Ageing populations
Force Five: Geopolitics and globalisation
Force Six: Inequality and extreme poverty
Force Seven: Populism, conspiracy and the angry people
Our models are revealing how these forces are coming together and colliding to amplify their impact.
Are we seeing the emergence of the perfect storm, the confluence of seven powerful forces colliding with a hurricane amplifying pandemic? (Note: we are exploring this idea further in The Post Lockdown Pandemic Handbook – How to live with coronavirus and thrive as you navigate the Perfect Storm will be available soon. If you would like a copy sent direct to you, email [email protected])
Let’s explore more
Force Seven – Populism, conspiracy and the angry people. With violent riots flaring up in the US, this force is very visible at the moment. George Floyd’s tragic death at the hands of American police who pinned him to the ground with a knee in the back of his neck for over eight minutes, has ignited the rage within the angry people. But the battle is fast becoming much more than the death of a single African American.
Are we witnessing the start of The Great Unravelling?
A contract, governing social behaviour exits between: The Government, The Economy (businesses) and The People. Politicians are adept at balancing the interplaying forces of this social triad. It is a skill they perform every day in the circus of politics.
History shows us that balancing the social contract is never easy (ever tried balancing a triangle?). Get it wrong and the contract between this social triad topples. Think French Revolution, 1917 Russian Revolution, collapse of the USSR, etc.
So, consider, might coronavirus topple governments? Boris Johnson realised the danger after reading the virus report that jarred the U.S. and the U.K. to action.
As the world contemplates life with coronavirus, every government in the world is facing a terrifying balancing act between future-flare ups, a cratering economy and nervous agitated voters. No government wants bodies piling up on the streets, as crippled health services fail to cope with Covid-19. It would be bad for votes. An economy in free fall does not win votes either. Trump cares most about this.
In modern times, as capitalism brought great prosperity and governments took advantage in aligning two forces: The needs of the populous and economic performance. A stable economy equals happy voters. “It’s the economy stupid!” is the widely accepted political maxim — Voters punish governments who preside over a weak economy and re-elect the ones who deliver strong economic growth.
Through policies that support a growing and prosperous economy, governments have been able to “flatten the triangle” into a more easily balanced linear relationship.
There are further benefits to flattening the triangle: As long as the economy is performing and making people happy, then the government is afforded the freedom and luxury to focus on furthering party policy (e.g. Brexit/Trumpism).
But until a vaccine arrives, saving lives is at odds with saving the economy and, beneath the mixed messages, governments are putting wealth ahead of wellbeing.
This invisible and injurious virus has shattered the alignment between government, the economy and the people. Balancing this social triad is now much more difficult, if not impossible.
We are about to start witnessing a great unravelling. The leaders who are tuned to change will seize opportunity to create a new better world. This is always the case in any revolution. Are you ready to start navigating the perfect storm?
Watch out for: The Post Lockdown Handbook: How to live with coronavirus and thrive as you navigate the Perfect Storm – Available soon.
About TomorrowToday Consulting:
Pioneering Business, as a Force for Good
TomorrowToday Consulting (TTC) is a specialist consultancy partnering with middle market and progressive large organisations to do well, by doing good. We co-develop leadership, purpose, GPS destinations, strategies and the innovation culture that delivers growth and a better future for all stakeholders.
We excel in the business of releasing human potential, this is where true strategic and competitive advantage exists. At the heart of everything we do is the optimisation of both social and business impact.
Our customised approach combines deep insights into the dynamics of disruptive forces and megatrends transforming the world with close collaboration at all levels of the client organisation.
TTC is part of TomorrowToday Global. Founded in 2001, and we have helped leaders around the world to take advantage of a changing world.
About the author of today’s Tuesday Tip – Dean van Leeuwen
Dean is one of today’s most forecast practitioners on disruptive forces, future trends and innovation. Using his models and frameworks, he predicted both Donald Trump and Brexit and for 12 years he has been warning business leaders about the disruptive impact of pandemics.
A successful start-up entrepreneur, Dean is a founding partner of TomorrowToday.Consulting, a business which partners with middle market and progressive big business to unlock the potential of businesses as a force for good.
Dean is available for virtual leadership and executive strategy sessions with any team size.
Email [email protected] to discover more.