Health + wellbeing

What’s your survival plan if there is no vaccine?

- September 9, 2020 3 MIN READ

Using the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic as a model, experts have suggested that the COVID-19 outbreak will last between 18 and 24 months. A group of researchers at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) suggest that the outbreak would not end until 60% to 70% of the human population is immune to the virus. This may take between 18 and 24 months.

Scientists have launched many accelerated programs to have a vaccine commercially developed to prevent the coronavirus by the middle of 2021. But this could take longer.

Without a mass vaccine in place, countries will be doing their best to contain the virus with contact tracing and targeted quarantines.

Now is a great time to reflect on what we have learned during the current global pandemic and understand what we could do better over the next two years.

Globally, the pandemic is getting worse!

The biggest economies are reopening. This means more social mobility. It also means more opportunities for the virus to spread. 

No activity will be without the risk of coronavirus.

Already, scientists who are tracking virus trends are seeing signs that re-opening is leading to a spike in cases. As such, the total number of worldwide cases and deaths will only be increasing without any sign of flattening, as shown below.

If, as most experts believe, an effective vaccine won’t be ready until well into 2021, we’ll all be co-existing with the coronavirus for the next year or longer without a magic bullet

This will require us to reset our expectations and awareness and change our behaviour.

We can all resonate with the following research findings: (Fortune, 2020)

  • Americans believe that their work lives will not go back to normal. About 7 in 10 U.S. workers say the pandemic will permanently change the nature of work and their careers. Half are considering a career change.
  • People are under tremendous levels of stress. They are also experiencing a once-in-a-generation degree of hardship. With unemployment levels above the peak of the Great Recession, Americans are concerned about losing their job (59%), their physical health (82%), their mental health (68%), and their long-term finances (83%). The jobless rate (11.1%) remains above double digits, and 59% of U.S. adults are concerned about their job security.

So, what behavioural change are you going to make to mitigate or lower your risks due to the coronavirus over the next two years?

Government welfare will stop, eventually

Government welfare payments and programs have shielded many households and individuals (so far) from the worst of the COVID19 economic and financial impact. 

But how long can governments do this without incurring mountains of public debt that will burden future generations?

Governments can’t keep borrowing and handing out money and insulating households and individuals forever. The flow of money and handouts will have to stop. 

When governments ease back from borrowing and handing out money, households and individuals will feel more fiscal, emotional and mental health pain.

Governments can only spend the money once, after increasing public debt. Increasing spending today will only reduce expenditure tomorrow. 

With decreases in economic activity and reduced tax revenues, the key question we have to ponder is this— Do we have the pain now? Or suffer the pain later?

How many people die each day?

Context plays a key role in risk management. Without a frame of reference, numbers such as the death toll from the coronavirus can be difficult to interpret and understand.

An infographic by Visual Capitalist (shown below) provides the context with the total number of worldwide daily deaths. It also outlines how many people die each day from specific causes including coronavirus.

While these numbers help provide some great context for the global scale of COVID19 deaths, they do not offer a direct comparison. But it does tell a story.

Three possible planning scenarios

Depending on control measures and other factors, coronavirus cases may come in waves of different heights, intervals, impacts and timeframes.

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy has presented three possible scenarios over the next two years until mid-2022, as shown below.

This post was written by Patrick Ow and republished here with permission.