As if there was any breathing room left in a globally disastrous year, a new and more virulent strain of coronavirus spurred fear and alarm across Europe, some parts of the globe, and more recently, the United States of America. Stricter measures were already seen implemented by the United Kingdom. These are measures such as imposing a similar national lockdown to the one that was imposed at the height of COVID-19, travel bans with the exception of special circumstances, allowing only up to three households to meet for Christmas, and etcetera.
With a spike in deaths since the start of the new year as the United States recorded about 215,408 new cases and 2,664 deaths related to the virus daily, it seems as if that the country could follow the United Kingdom’s lead. This is in part due to the slow rollout of vaccines as each state struggles to keep an equitable balance between necessity and vulnerability.
As early as the first week of December 2020, for instance, the state of California’s Governor Gabin Newsom has already stated the possibility of “pulling an emergency brake” and implementing a week shy of a month of lockdown. Some of the conditions of the lockdown being:
Furthermore, local, and statewide rules such as curfews are going to be implemented. It goes without saying that compliance requirements such as OSHA employee training, HIPAA compliance, and other protocols mandated by the state and the federal government must be observed. This was an intuitive call for the state of California as well, given that a month and a few days later, a new strain of coronavirus was found in five states – including California.
The new strain was reported in Colorado, California, Florida, Georgia, and New York – as authorities found separate individuals to be infected in the first week of January. Currently, California stands with six cases of the new strain – two in Los Angeles and four in San Diego. Meanwhile, New York, Florida, Colorado, and Georgia each have one case of the new strain confirmed.
As previously mentioned, the strain was first found in the United Kingdom and was named “VUI – 202012/01”. The mutations in this strain which deviates from the typical coronavirus occurred on the genetic material that is in charge of spike protein, which is the aspect of the virus that is responsible for penetrating host cells. This essentially makes the virus transmissible by 70% based on scientific modelling, and recent studies have shown that the number is close – test results stating that the virus is 56% more contagious than the ordinary strain.
Of course, other factors may affect transmissibility of the virus in these said studies – such as practices regarding social distancing, the use of personal protective equipment, sanitation, and proper medical waste disposal.
However, if it is indeed true that the new strain is more contagious, an extremely virulent version of an already virulent and dangerous virus can carry incredibly lethal implications.
VUI – 202012/01 is just one of the many different strains that have run rampant across the globe. Different strains of coronavirus include:
Of course, the ideal solution would be the immunization of the vast majority of the society. Practically speaking, because of the high demand and slow rollout of vaccines – compounded with other issues regarding accessibility, a return to the “normal” life before the pandemic is highly unlikely. Because of this, business owners must be keen to adapt to the changing landscape of society in order to stay afloat.
Currently, Wharton identified five key risks that business owners are facing and what is being done to mitigate these risks.
Economic instability and civil unrest – as people grow more disgruntled due to unemployment, election cycles, and general desperation; there is a large uncertainty about how policies will be shaped and the response to these policies in the near future.
As businesses vary in nature, a general blueprint suggested by Wharton was to highlight five steps that allows businesses to flexibly strategize how they will act in light of uncertainties. Some of these steps are: