The world, except for China, seems to be living in a post-COVID age. Depending on where you live, there are varying vestiges of lockdowns. In Spain, people still have to wear masks in public transport (trains, planes, an6d taxis), but otherwise, there are essentially no restrictions due to the virus. Its summer tourism destinations such as Barcelona and the entire Costa Brava are packed full of people who can fully enjoy themselves for the first time in over two years. In other countries, like much of the United States, there are practically no restrictions in place, and the Biden administration is considering lifting many remaining restrictions. Nevertheless, the shadow of 2021 is hanging over us. Last summer was not so bad, yet the fall saw the rise of the Omicron variant, which sent many countries back into strict, albeit temporary lockdowns. It is safe to say that practically no one wants further lockdowns, but businesses are going to be forced to contend with a workforce impacted by the virus, especially when the summer sun sets and the winter cold sets in.
To prevent an unnecessarily large uptick in cases, regulators are updating the coronavirus vaccines for a booster campaign scheduled for the fall. The idea is that the original vaccines were created in 2020, before the rise of the Delta, Omicron, and sub-Omicron variants. The new cocktails are meant to curtail these Omicron subvariants that are highly contagious. The issue, however, is whether these new cocktails will actually arrive in time to have any real impact. The United States Food and Drug Administration asked the nation’s vaccine manufacturers to target the BA.4 and the BA.5 Omicron subvariants. Two of those manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, indicated that they could make said targeted vaccines, but only by October. That said, they are already started making vaccines that specifically target Omicron’s original form.
The reason this is worrisome for businesses is that many scientists believe that updated boosters are the only way to live a semi-normal life post-COVID. The subvariants are mutations that do an excellent job of evading the original vaccine’s protections. Because of that, there have been a surge in cases in France, Britain, Portugal, Belgium, Israel, and the United States. In the US alone, experts are predicting as many as 200,000 deaths from COVID in the next 12 months.
Many scientists have said from the beginning that we are going to be living in a world where COVID is endemic. Just like there is flu season, there will be COVID season. It seems that those predictions have come to fruition. The key now will be ensuring that we, as business owners and leaders, plan around this fact. COVID will continue to change the way the world, including the business world, functions. We must not be surprised by any future variants. We have to know that what our governments do to combat the subvariants may not be sufficient. If we are reactive, and not proactive, about the realities of a post-lockdown, but perpetual-COVID world, then our careers will be worse off.