Recap: ISRM Coronavirus Campfire 79 and 80

by Marcus Griener

Happy New Tier as we greeted the first two Campfires of 2021. They took place shortly after the chaotic siege of the U.S. Capitol and social media companies pulling the plug on Donald Trump. Having moved into an unstable era of factlessness and untruthfulness during the last five years, this could prove to be an important turning point. While the event seems to have been a game changer in the States and will be a part of many discussions to come, the Coronavirus did not sleep either.

New mutations have been discovered in several countries with increased transmissibility and the NHS is reaching a tipping point in the UK. As one participant expressed it, we are in for the long haul and the small optimism from the end of 2020 is gone. Campfire 79 and 80 tackled questions about government, vaccine production and distribution, as well as the willingness to vaccinate.

On UK government: Boris Johnson is an optimist, not a crisis manager, there is no long-term vision, government overpromises but underdelivers, does not build much needed trust.

On New Zealand: Leadership has been exceptional with great communication on why decisions were made, early strict lockdown has been an investment in the future, but there is fear that new mutations will find their way to New Zealand.

On other governments: Africa and Asia have performed very well, the West not so much; Switzerland missed preparing for the second and third wave and faces a lack of orientation, Germany is in an election year with expected political quarrels hurting its Covid response, Dubai is under pressure to restore its economy and cannot afford another lockdown, it has opened its borders and is expecting more tourists.

On new mutations: Main concern is if vaccines will also work with new mutations; higher transmissibility could lead to up to 40% absentee rate which could cause significant disruption to institutions and businesses.

On vaccines: Production needs to be amped up and production bottlenecks (e.g. glass vials) avoided.

On supply chains: As health public health sector is under-resourced, vaccine distribution can be supported by the military, but WHO expects spoilage of 50% of vaccines; transportation cost will 4-5 times higher due to lack of passengers on planes which fly a lot of cargo.

On vaccination centers in the UK: Need to vaccinate 1 million a week, currently only manage 100K, very slow process currently as many elders have mobility issues, currently very low willingness of younger staff in centers to take vaccine

Outlook: Many expect the situation to go on through 2021 into early 2022 with a short opening during summer, policy should be directed towards vulnerable people and that nobody is left behind amidst unprecedent challenges to mental health.

In both campfires, there was strong sentiment that governments should start to think about the worst possible outcomes and then work towards not getting it. We certainly do think about all the things that could go wrong and will continue to do so in the Campfires. As we near the one-year anniversary of the first Covid-19 death in the UK, these conversations are as significant as they have ever been and we hope you will join us for them!