How are companies responding to the coronavirus crisis?

The dramatic spread of COVID-19 has disrupted lives, livelihoods, communities and businesses worldwide.

Organizations around the world, including the Forum and its partners, are coming together and innovating to minimize the impact on public health and to limit disruptions to economies and supply chains.

Here are just some ways Forum partners, corporations and other organizations globally are fighting the pandemic. Updated on 29 May, 2020.

Joining hands for hygiene: how a chemical, a mining and a logistics company are helping hospitals in South Africa fight COVID19

Until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, hand hygiene is one of the strongest methods of stopping the virus from spreading. Public places, businesses and health facilities around the world are providing hand washing stations and anti-bacterial gel with high alcohol content to dissolve the virus.

In South Africa four major hospitals in Gauteng province have received bulk supplies of hand sanitiser after three major corporates worked in partnership with clinical managers at the hospitals to fully understand how sanitizer can effectively protect medical staff and patients.

Chemicals and energy company Sasol, which is a World Economic Forum Partner, has ramped up production of hand sanitizer and will split production costs with AngloGold Ashanti, which is also a World Economic Forum partner. The global gold mining company will also provide the specially built bulk-storage tanks for the product while the logistics company Imperial Group will ensure the sanitiser tanks are safely transported to the hospitals.

“We are pleased that our internally produced sanitisers will provide these hospitals with hand disinfection hygiene support to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading to frontline medical staff, patients and visitors,” said Thabiet Booley, Senior Vice President of Sasol’s Base Chemicals division.

Private sector has critical role to play in ramping up Coronavirus testing

Deploying mass COVID-19 testing is essential if economies are to reopen, Gingko Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly told the Forum’s COVID Action Platform Virtual Meeting this week.

Kelly emphasised that businesses will need to quickly and accurately identify infections and make sure employees, contractors and suppliers are isolated in order to ensure business continuity. Putting testing regimes in place acts in the interests of the company but also benefits the wider community. Kelly told the virtual gathering that companies must ramp up testing as employees begin to return to work and said in the U.S. 5-10 million people will need to be tested in a single day, significantly more than current levels.

To achieve this goal Gingko Bioworks has raised $70 million to further repurpose facilities and make progress on improving at-home testing and other methods that would allow people around the world to know if they have contracted the virus.

Watch further highlights from the COVID Action Platform Virtual Meeting from Wednesday, 27 May 2020. Companies are invited to join the Forum’s Platform to gain first-class, expert business advice and analysis in response to the coronavirus here.

Employee benefits changing in the UK as employers prepare for a new “back-to-work” era – and not all for good

Leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, and Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum, Willis Towers Watson, has revealed two in five companies in the UK have made, or are planning to make significant changes to their employment benefit schemes as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

From sick leave costs expected to increase, to income protection and healthcare benefits changing - a third of employers also reported they were likely to revise their healthcare strategies for 2021, the company’s survey found.

The COVID-19 pandemic will prompt big changes in employee benefit programmes for many companies. But most companies at some point are likely to look at what they currently provide employees and ask, ‘are these benefits still relevant and is the balance still right for the new working environment?'

— Kevin Newman, managing director of Willis Towers Watson’s UK Health & Benefits business

While the survey showed many companies looking to enhance employee benefits (from wellbeing programmes to mental health and stress management services) - the research also found some benefits were likely to be reduced. The reportedly most likely to be reduced included annual leave (8%), retirement benefits (5%), healthcare benefits (4%) and sick leave (4%). Willis Towers Watson says the results show a divergence in how the pandemic has impacted companies in the UK.

Alongside the survey on employee benefits - Willis Towers Watson also examined the impact of COVID-19 on employee wellbeing, specifically in the UK. The research found job security and instability are affecting financial and emotional wellbeing, with emotional intelligence the most critical skill for managers currently. The company has found the rules around the social experience of work are also being rewritten.

The company has published their survey on businesses’ plans to restore stability across their organisations in the post-COVID-19 era.

Companies can read the full report here.

How to succeed amid uncertainty: considerations for companies dealing with the coronavirus crisis

PwC, Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum, has created a free COVID-19 Navigator, a digital assessment to help organisations understand the impact of COVID-19 on their business and assess their readiness to respond.

The digital tool helps companies understand where they stand as they respond to COVID-19 in the areas of crisis management and response; workforce; operations and supply chain; finance and liquidity; tax and trade; and strategy and brand.

In an effort to examine the impact of coronavirus globally, PwC has also published a tool to track the tax, legal and economic measures undertaken in countries around the world in response to COVID-19, and is conducting a regular CFO Pulse Survey to identify what finance leaders are currently focusing on.

These resources provide an ongoing view of how the coronavirus crisis will affect communities, economies and businesses in the months to come.

In a number of countries, PwC is helping set up and administer government schemes to support businesses and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with financial donations to charities, PwC has donated medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and medical centres.

The company has also encouraged its staff members who have medical training to volunteer in their local healthcare systems. Other staff are engaged in community support and various volunteer programmes and outreach, including feeding the homeless and getting food to key workers.

Testing for COVID-19 is essential - this company is making it possible at home

As COVID-19 has spread throughout the world, health authorities have insisted testing is essential. Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in March: “We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test”.

However, the logistics can be challenging. How can people who suspect they have COVID-19 access a health facility that provides accurate tests in a safe environment?

In Russia, the technology company Yandex - a Member of the World Economic Forum - is making this process easier. Beginning with elderly people in Moscow, Yandex is enabling COVID-19 testing to take place at home.

Individuals confirm an appointment through an online portal, then a medical professional wearing protective gear will arrive at the person's address in a car provided by Yandex. They will take a nose or mouth swab and securely pack the sample. The analysis will then take place in a partner laboratory, and at-risk residents will receive the result via email in one to three days following the test.

Yandex has committed to covering the costs of the first 10,000 tests for people at greatest risk, as part of its 250 million ruble ($3.4 million) coronavirus fund. The company says this service is becoming available to people of all age groups across Russia as capacity at participating laboratories expands.

A prolonged global recession, job losses and another pandemic: the COVID-19 risk report reveals top concerns for business.

COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.7 million cases have been confirmed and more than 315,000 people have died due to the virus.

To help all businesses globally understand the emerging risks generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has today (Tuesday, 19 May) launched the COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications.

The report, a special edition which builds on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report, examines the views of nearly 350 senior risk professionals, who took part in the COVID-19 Risks Perceptions Survey. They were asked to assess 31 risks within three categories: most likely for the world, most concerning for the world and most worrisome for companies.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Two-thirds of respondents identified a prolonged global recession as a top concern for business. One-half identified bankruptcies and industry consolidation, failure of industries to recover and a disruption of supply chains as crucial worries.

Companies are also concerned about the geopolitical disruptions to business, with more than 40% of respondents rating tighter restrictions on the movement of people and goods among the most worrisome impact from COVID-19. The third most worrisome aspect for companies, is an increase in cyberattacks and data fraud – according to 50% of respondents – as well as the breakdown of IT infrastructure and networks, a top concern for companies, according to nearly 30% of respondents.

Collaboration between the public and private sectors to date has helped solve some of the most urgent business and economic challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and they will become increasingly more important as the world rebuilds and adapts to a 'new normal'.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

COVID-19: how acting quickly helped UAE contain the pandemic

When the first cases of coronavirus appeared in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the authorities rushed to contain the outbreak. By closely monitoring cases through testing and enforcing self-quarantine and confinement for up to 35 days, the country registered 23,358 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 220 deaths between the end of January and mid-May 2020.

The private sector has worked closely with the government and played a critical role in reducing the spread of the virus in the UAE. For instance, the major global port operator, Gulftainer, which is a subsidiary of World Economic Forum Partner Crescent Enterprises, has launched a fast-track service to speed up the delivery of medical equipment.

Shipping containers are seen stacked at Beirut's port
Image: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

This focus has accelerated the delivery of over 200,000 metric tons of medical and essential supplies which are being used to treat patients and fight the spread of COVID-19 in the UAE. Globally, Gulftainer’s express services have ensured that over a million tonnes of essential supplies have been prioritised.

The world’s spending habits: how have they been impacted by coronavirus? On this week’s COVID Action Platform call, the private sector offers an analysis for the future.

As discussed on this week’s Forum COVID Action Platform virtual meeting (13 May), the world’s economy is moving into a post-lockdown phase in some geographies. But how has consumer spending changed since the start of COVID-19 and what effects have worldwide lockdowns had on the economy?

Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga joined the conversation to offer his analysis of consumer spending, including his prognosis for future changes to the economy.

Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga on the COVID Action Platform Virtual Meeting, 13 May 2020

Mastercard, in surveying the world’s spending, says the economic process is progressing through four phases: containment, stabilization, normalization and growth. Banga said most of the economies around the world are currently in the stabilization phase. Depending on how economies proceed to open, movement may occur back and forth within the four phases.

Banga also stressed the importance of stakeholder capitalism and his learnings from working with the Forum about engaging multistakeholders in a variety of ways, to get lives and livelihoods going in the correct direction.

Companies from across the globe join the Forum’s COVID Action Platform virtual meetings each week, and hear from world experts across the public and private sectors on the latest COVID-19 developments and their implications. Businesses are invited to join the Platform here.

WiFi brings lifesaving connectivity to emergency healthcare centres battling COVID pandemic

Reliable WiFi is more than a convenience; it is essential for delivering vital services in hospitals where many lifesaving devices are now dependent on wireless connectivity.

COVID-19 has put hospitals and health systems around the world under great strain. To treat the increased number of emergency cases, many countries have built pop-up clinics and temporary hospital facilities. In the UK, London's ExCeL exhibition centre – which usually hosts lifestyle shows and business conferences – has been converted into a temporary hospital with capacity for 4,000 beds with oxygen and ventilators. As well as needing medical equipment, doctors, nurses and disinfectant, these healthcare facilities need to be connected online.

Having recognised that these facilities need networking infrastructure to operate effectively, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has donated USD50-million worth of secure connectivity kits which will be used in healthcare facilities in the US, Canada and some European and Asian countries.

To make sure these clinics are fully operational as quickly as possible, HPE Aruba has also activated a group of over 200 volunteer network engineers who have donated their time to building network infrastructure in medical facilities that are battling the coronavirus pandemic. In over 20 countries, the Airheads Volunteer Corps is connecting those in need of IT skills with those who can provide help quickly.

The global response to COVID-19 has also caused many businesses to turn their attentions to employees working from home and other remote locations. Technology companies like HPE are supporting this shift by providing secure, remote work options to help businesses around the world support their employees and operations during this crisis.

“Our infrastructure solutions, which provide industry-leading remote management, security, and automation capabilities, help businesses quickly deliver virtual workspaces to their remote staff,” said Gerald Kleyn, vice president at HPE.

Building resilience: new COVID-19 scenario planning helps companies plan their response to the pandemic

Salesforce, Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum and member of our COVID Action Platform, is helping businesses globally plan their response journey to COVID-19, through a variety of scenario planning resources covering the next 18-36 months.

As the coronavirus crisis continues to evolve, leaders have been challenged to interpret developments, regain control of the situation, make tough decisions, and guide their employees as they respond to the rapidly moving pandemic. The next phase of returning to work is bringing new challenges for businesses - especially with many uncertainties around the development of a vaccine, or potentially a second wave of the virus.

To help companies continue to navigate the unprecedented effects of the coronavirus, Salesforce has created a framework of critical uncertainties that highlight the key public health, economic, and sociopolitical dimensions of the crisis. Within the framework, three broadly applicable scenarios for the next 18-36 months are described, which show how the interplay of these critical uncertainties could result in different “curves” for the impact of the virus and the loss of GDP.

Scenario Planning with Simon Mulcahy and Peter Schwartz | Salesforce

The 1-3-year scenario resource answers key questions for businesses about the near future. How will the virus behave? How long will the health and economic crises last? When will we move from crises mode back to work? What will going back to work look like in the new normal?

Companies can prepare for the future with a variety of resources, including the COVID-19 response framework, free access to a COVID-19 data hub, and the scenario planning materials.

The heart of resilient leadership: a new guide for senior executives on responding to COVID-19 teaches companies to embrace the long view.

A guide for CEO’s to successfully guide their companies through the COVID-19 crisis has been released by Deloitte, a Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum.

Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen has outlined five fundamental qualities of resilient leadership that he hopes will help other CEO’s ensure their companies emerge stronger from the impact of coronavirus.

The five qualities include designing from the heart … and the head, putting the mission first, aiming for speed over elegance, owning the narrative and embracing the long view.

Renjen believes a crisis plays out over three time frames: responding, recovering and thriving - and his practical guide helps senior executives navigate the different seasons they find their organizations in.

For example, in regards to putting the mission first, Deloitte identified a number of key actions for leaders to take based on their analysis of the leading practices of multinational companies in other health crises. Launching and sustaining a crisis command centre, supporting talent and strategy, maintaining business continuity and financing, and staying engaged with customers are among the findings.

COVID-19 is a crucible within which resilient leadership is refined. Acting without perfect information, often with only a few hours or days to spare, CEOs will have to guide their organizations through myriad decisions and challenges, with significant implications for their company’s whole system—employees, customers, clients, financial partners, suppliers, investors, and other stakeholders—as well as for society as a whole.

— Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen

With the right approach, Deloitte believes the COVID-19 crisis can “become an opportunity for companies to create even more value and positive societal impact, rather than just bounce back to the status quo.” Read more of their advice here.

Companies can practically respond to the coronavirus crisis by combining their efforts with other organizations through the Forum’s COVID Action Platform. Companies are invited to apply to join the Platform.

Chinese e-commerce giant fights COVID-19 by delivering essentials and spraying disinfectant

E-commerce giant JD.com has delivered essential goods across China in an effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.With the support of the local government, JD deployed drones to conduct ground surveys, design flight corridors, request airspace access permission and conduct final flight tests in China.

In some parts of China drones deliver consumer goods as residents were asked to limit travel.
Image: JD.com

Several drone delivery corridors were put in place replacing hours-long drives with a 2km flight that could be completed in just 10 minutes.

The company, a Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum, developed a drone route to Baiyang Lake in Hebei province. The route, which usually saw delivery of packages to the village by boat, was suspended due to the outbreak of the virus. With the drone program, the drones dropped parcels at a fixed point - so customers were able to collect them without human-to-human contact.

JD has also strengthened protective measures against COVID-19. In Inner Mongolia, the company deployed two drones to support critical disinfection procedures by spraying areas in the High-Tech Industrial Development Zone of Ordos City.

The company has also donated medical supplies to countries including the UK, Uzbekistan and Chile. Medical supplies which the company donated to Switzerland include 800,000 KN95 protective masks and 800,000 disposable medical masks, 800,000 surgical gloves, 20,000 pairs of goggles, and 10,000 protective gowns to support the fight against COVID-19. The donations leverage JD’s supply chain capabilities to source from domestic manufacturers in China, as these businesses work to resume normal operations.

Interactive maps keep air, ocean and road cargo moving in a new COVID-19 world.

Global logistics company Agility – a Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum and member of our Pandemic Supply Chain Network – has designed interactive maps reporting the latest global shipping and operational outlook, to assist global supply chains and keep cargo moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company is producing real-time crucial updates on the impact of the coronavirus on global air freight, global ocean freight and road freight network capacities. Their interactive data updates allow users to navigate across their digital maps, discovering capacity availability in real time. The maps identify airport and port constraints across the world, to assist with the transport of medical items, and the manufacturing and storage of support products and personal protective equipment (PPE)

These insights help businesses operating along the supply chain to understand the impacts of the global pandemic, and to make better decisions on how to keep their cargo moving globally.

Along with the maps, Agility provides general updates on cargo capacity for road, air and ocean travel. For example, regarding global ocean freight capacity, the company notes the biggest current impact of COVID-19 is on space and container availability throughout the world.

Agility says as the virus spreads to poorer countries with weaker infrastructure, the need for humanitarian assistance will increase. The company believes logistics expertise is key to an effective humanitarian response to this global crisis. Real-time global updates are available here.

Carmakers are changing tack to support doctors, care facilities and refugees globally

Volkswagen Group is driving a global response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Doctors, nursing homes and hospitals across Germany are being provided with medical equipment worth around €40 million – from breathing masks to disinfectant, gloves, thermometers, protective goggles and suits.

The Spanish brand SEAT has converted an assembly line for the production of respiratory aids.

Volkswagen Group is sourcing the materials in China, with distribution in Germany handled by public authorities. The company is also using its own facilities to produce medical equipment for areas in need –3D printing mountings for face shields, among other things.

The Spanish brand SEAT has converted an assembly line for the production of respiratory aids. Along with medical supplies, Volkswagen Group has also stepped up to donate €1 million for refugees threatened by the coronavirus pandemic. The German Red Cross is using the funds for emergency aid in Syria, Turkey and Greece, to source, transport and distribute relief supplies and food.

In late April, Volkswagen reopened its factory after one of the longest shutdowns in its history. It says it remains focused on the health of its workers, as it goes back to work alongside many other companies across Europe.

Over €7 billion pledged in the global fight against COVID-19

European governments have pledged over €7 billion in initial funding, as part of a global effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Money pledged today will be used to support countries and organisations around the world which are working together to ensure that life-saving tools developed in response to coronavirus are universally available and affordable.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, speaking in the Special Address by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission  session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 22 January. Congress Centre - Congress Hall. Copyright by World Economic Forum/Mattias Nutt
Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
Image: World Economic Forum / Mattias N

European Commission President von der Leyen, who is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum, said “The response to this pandemic can only be global. We need cooperation between governments across the world, scientists, civil society, business, citizens.”

In recognition of the role the Forum has played in the formation of The Global Fund, GAVI and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, delivered pre-recorded remarks during the EU-hosted event.

“Every business is challenged today to contribute with its knowhow and with its resources to the solution of this challenge, of this problem, which is of utmost significance for the future of humankind,” Professor Schwab said. “We would like to assure you, that business as far as the Forum can mobilize it, is behind this initiative and we will support you in any way we can."

The World Health Organization (WHO) and global health organisations continue to call for action to develop fast and equitable access to safe, quality, effective and affordable diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines against coronavirus.

New grant allows for 3 million tests for coronavirus in Denmark, helping reboot the economy and ensuring safety of citizens

After previously announcing funding of 50 million Danish Krone (6.7 million euros) in grants for scientific, social and health outreach projects to manage the impact of COVID-19 in Denmark, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant to TestCenter Danmark to carry out up to 3 million tests.

Testing is one of the greatest tools in understanding and managing the coronavirus pandemic. Being tested allows an individual to know if they are infected, or if they are healthy and can go about everyday activities, including helping others in the community in need.

A component of the de-escalation strategy in Denmark is to ramp up testing significantly. The testing is an add-on to the existing diagnostic services offered across the country, ensuring that any person who wants to be tested can be.

“TestCenter Danmark is an extremely important initiative that will help to ensure testing of more people for the new coronavirus. It will contribute to increased safety for individual citizens and the people they have social contact with, and it will also support the gradual re-opening of the Danish society, including rebooting our economy. Having a national setup that improves our ability to test the population on a large scale will also make us better prepared for tackling similar situations in the future.”

— Lars Rebien Sørensen, Chairman of the Novo Nordisk Foundation

Through the unique collaboration between public and private actors, the new TestCenter Danmark has been built and prepared for operation in less than one month.

Partner of the World Economic Forum, Novo Nordisk Foundation has taken an innovative approach since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, to invest millions into research and development that will prepare Denmark for future viral epidemics.

A new letter urges companies to join the Forum's Therapeutics Accelerator for COVID-19.

The speed and the scale of the COVID-19 virus is unprecedented and the economic disruption it has caused is unparalleled. As daunting as it may seem, experts say the world can only fully get back to business when we’ve addressed the health concerns and when there are effective remedies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

That is why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mastercard, Wellcome, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Dell Foundation, and the U.K. Government have invested in the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to identify and scale treatments to counter the virus.

But more progress is needed to effectively contain COVID-19.
But more progress is needed to effectively contain COVID-19.
Image: REUTERS/Edgar Su - RC2PDF9MP5J0

A letter today issued by Ajay Banga, CEO Mastercard, Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum is calling on companies globally to join the collaborative funding effort by the private sector, philanthropic organizations, and governments to speed up the research and development process and to make the results available to all.

Companies can read the letter in full, and find out more information via the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator website.

David Rubenstein says how businesses plan to bounce back from a very deep recession - on the COVID Action Platform call

David M. Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman of The Carlyle Group, told the Forum’s COVID Action Platform Virtual Meeting this week it would take a long time to get through the very deep recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rubenstein said there was a word between recession and depression that hasn’t been invented yet - that is probably the most appropriate to explain the challenge the business world is facing.

COVID Action Platform | David Rubenstein shares the business response to the coronavirus

Rubenstein told COVID Action Platform members about the business response to the recession caused by coronavirus - which includes cost-cutting, taking care of employees and working to save what they have. Coming out of the recession phase, Rubenstein said businesses are likely to use fewer employees than before, and that employees will travel less, using more digital means instead.

Watch further highlights from the COVID Action Platform Virtual Meeting from Wednesday, 29 April. Companies globally are invited to join the Forum’s platform to gain first-class, expert business advice and analysis in response to the coronavirus weekly here.

Yan Bao Charity Foundation donates more than 300,000 USD worth of life-saving health equipment to WHO response

Doctor Irina Barkhatova wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in a hospital in Moscow, Russia
Image: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The Yan Bao Charity Foundation, a family foundation focused on improving education, health and alleviating poverty in China and around the world, joined the collective philanthropic response of the COVID Action Platform by donating 300,000 USD worth of protective health equipment including masks and personal protective equipment to the World Health Organization.

Having connected to the WHO Emergency Response effort through the Forum’s Covid Action Platform, the Yan Bao Foundation, which was created by the Baofeng Energy Group, delivered 20,000 masks and 10,000 quality certified suits to the WHO logistics hub in Dubai in April.

In response to unprecedented demand and severe disruptions to the global supply chain, the WHO’s Supply Chain Inter-Agency Coordination Cell (SCICC) has established a supply working group to streamline procurement of critical items facing global shortage. Requests for supply of the critical equipment is then consolidated at a country level through COVID-19 coordination mechanisms, ensuring that the equipment reaches those facing the greatest need.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University announce landmark agreement for COVID-19 vaccine

Following their donation to the COVID Action Platform of 9 million face masks to support healthcare workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic and a commitment to boost testing in the UK, AstraZeneca has today announced a landmark agreement with Oxford University for the global development and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The agreement will see the development and distribution of the University’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection from SARS-CoV-2.

As COVID-19 continues its grip on the world, the need for a vaccine to defeat the virus is urgent. This collaboration brings together the University of Oxford’s world-class expertise in vaccinology and AstraZeneca’s global development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities. Our hope is that, by joining forces, we can accelerate the globalisation of a vaccine to combat the virus and protect people from the deadliest pandemic in a generation.

—Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca

In a recent interview with the World Economic Forum, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot also called on companies to give practical support, not just money, to fight COVID-19. He said governments needed help with their supply chains, capabilities, skills and expertise - and that it remains crucial for companies to partner with others in order to scale their efforts.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot discusses the company’s partnership with the COVID Action Platform

Organizations globally are invited to partner with the Forum’s COVID Action Platform, which ensures global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community in response to the spread of COVID-19. Companies can join the platform here.

Mass production of ventilators begins in Turkey - a move crucial to fighting the pandemic locally

Koç Holding, Partner of the World Economic Forum and Turkey’s largest investment holding company, has mobilized its assets in the fight against coronavirus.

Arçelik, a Koç Holding subsidiary and leading consumer durables manufacturer in Europe, is undertaking the mass production of life-saving mechanical ventilators to help the country avoid possible shortages (Turkey is currently reported to have around 17,000 ventilators in its public hospitals.)

Arçelik’s Mass Production of Domestic Mechanical Ventilators

Working with the Turkish Ministry of Industry and Technology and the Turkish Ministry of Health, the company designed and tested the first prototype, and has begun mass production with a team of 120 world-class Turkish engineers working together under quarantine conditions, with no visitors allowed to enter production areas. Their goal is to produce 5,000 units by the end of May. The first 100 units were delivered to hospitals by April 20, only 14 days after the consortium started its collaboration.

Along with this initiative, Koç Holding, a partner of the Forum’s COVID Action Platform, has mobilized its two automotive manufacturers, Ford Otosan, JV with Ford, and TOFAŞ, JV with Fiat, to address the need for critical medical supplies in hospitals, free of charge. This includes producing protective face shields and waterproof protective gowns, and building biological sampling cabins and intubation cabins.

As of April 28, there are 114.653 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Turkey, and 2.992 deaths. The ventilators will provide essential respiratory support to patients in intensive care.

Mahindra Group tells businesses the stakeholder principle is absolutely essential in fighting coronavirus - live on the Forum’s COVID Action Platform.

Mahindra Group has endorsed the Forum’s set of Stakeholder Principles to manage the economic impacts from the coronavirus emergency, saying togetherness and innovation are the ways we can combat coronavirus and work towards a global recovery.

On a call with the Forum’s COVID Action Platform, Anish Shah, Managing Director and CEO designate for Mahindra Group, also outlined the extensive measures the company has undertaken to fight COVID-19 in India. From supporting society by meeting needs from a medical standpoint to enacting isolation centres across their resorts for government use and mobilizing their IT department to monitor cities with control centres, the organization has been preparing their response to the crisis as numbers grow in India - at the time of writing, cases have exceeded 22,000.

Anish Shah, Managing Director and CEO designate, Mahindra Group, shares the company’s response to COVID-19.

The company’s manufacturing facilities are making ventilators, project teams are on standby to assist the government in creating temporary care facilities, and the Mahindra Foundation is creating a fund to assist the hardest hit across the value chain. The organization is also inspiring others to respond to coronavirus with significant resources. They have used their engineering ingenuity to develop low-cost respirators for patients in need, and are reinforcing the fact that innovation and togetherness is the only way to beat the coronavirus.

Companies can join together with the Forum and organizations like Mahindra Group around the world working to defeat coronavirus, via the COVID Action Platform.

World’s leading 3D printing manufacturers rapidly respond to COVID-19 as a community: providing ventilators, masks, swabs, face shields and more.

The world’s leading 3D printing manufacturers - including HP, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Royal DSM and others - have come together through the Forum’s 3D Printing COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative to address equipment shortages and rising medical demands due to the ongoing pandemic.

The Forum’s rapid response initiative has created a community of companies manufacturing 3D products to meet global needs.

The organizations are providing support for medical devices, equipment manufacturers and hospital systems.

Carbon and its partners, in the US, are producing PPE for medical workers and patient sampling swabs. Linde plc is offering combined 3D printing (metal and plastic, design and software) and medical equipment capabilities in Germany and the US. In Italy, Roboze is printing in-house and with its partners – valves, adapters, connectors, splitters, face shields and durable thermoforming tools for faster manufacturing of N95 masks.

Where there are global needs for specific products or services, from ventilators and respirator components to hands-free door openers, masks and mask components, swabs or face shields - the Forum community has published lists of which companies can provide specific items - making it easier to access and provide the equipment needed around the world.

3D printing companies, communities and platforms are invited to join the Forum’s initiative by applying here.

To predict and prevent COVID-19 transmission, Telenor is harnessing mobility data

Image: Telenor

Governments around the world are enforcing lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. In major cities this is particularly challenging with families suddenly confined to small apartments for weeks on end.

In Norway, the leading telecommunications company Telenor is gathering accurate and anonymous data on how people are moving around so health authorities have the information they need to protect lives and limit the viral spread.

“Knowledge about a population’s travel pattern is vital to understanding how an epidemic spreads throughout a country and thus the population,” says Kenth Engø-Monsen, senior researcher at Telenor Research.

Mobile phones automatically connect to the nearest base station and these connections leave a location trace. This anonymized location data gets extracted from more than 8,100 base stations across the country and aggregated every six hours powering a dynamic map.

The maps show people’s movement in Norway on 10 March (left) and 15 March, compared to people’s movement on the same day the previous week. The blue color a decrease in movement.
Image: Telenor

Anonymized data gathered in this way is crucial for health authorities that need to understand whether preventative measures including school closures and placing staff on furlough are having an impact and stopping the spread of infection.

The success of this approach largely depends on engaging the right people in the healthcare sector to make sense of the aggregated data. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) added anonymized mobility data to its epidemics model before making informed recommendations to the government.

This work is scalable beyond Norway, and Telenor is working with other Nordic authorities with a view to rolling out similar big data projects in Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

3D printing and air-bridges: Airbus responds to COVID-19

Image: Airbus

Airbus is employing its fleet of aircraft as well as its industrial resources to support governments fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The company is flying millions of facemasks and thermometers from China into Europe so health workers and caregivers have the resources they need to work safely and sustainably.

In March, multiple Airbus flights transported millions of masks from China to the company HQ in Toulouse, France. Hundreds of thousands of these masks were then transferred to Getafe, Spain. Seventy percent of the masks were donated to the French and Spanish governments, while the rest are being distributed to Airbus teams in France and Spain.

The company, which is partnering with the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform, continued this support through regular flights between China and Europe to deliver millions more masks to hospitals and public services across France, Germany, Spain and the UK.

Image: Airbus

Technology and engineering businesses are collaborating with Airbus in response to the UK government’s call for help. A consortium of companies, which includes Rolls-Royce and Ford, is aiming to deliver 10,000 medical ventilators to help save lives.

In Spain, Airbus has repurposed 20 3D printers to produce thousands of the visor frames that are a crucial component in protective facemasks. Thousands of these frames have already been donated.

Brewer fights coronavirus pandemic by turning alcohol into hygiene products

Image: AB InBev

Leading global brewer AB InBev is harnessing its key ingredient as a weapon in the fight against COVID-19. Working with partners, the company is both packaging the disinfectant alcohol alone or transforming it into hand sanitizer.

The brewer, which has been making beer for over 600 years, is donating both disinfectant alcohol liquid and over 1 million bottles of hand sanitizer and disinfectant to hospitals and front-line health workers in more than 20 countries.

The South African Breweries (SAB), which has been owned by AB InBev since 2016, is providing alcohol to help manufacturers produce more hand sanitizer. SAB’s trucks are transporting the product to the most remote parts of the country.

In Europe, 50,000 liters of disinfectant alcohol are being produced using the surplus of alcohol generated when making alcohol-free beers. An extra 26,000 bottles of hand sanitizer are also being provided to pharmacies and front-line workers across Europe.

AB InBev, which has 170,000 employees based in nearly 50 countries, is also teaming up with local governments in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador to support communities hardest hit by the pandemic. The company’s fleets of trucks are helping deliver essential food and medical supplies to areas in need.

In Mexico, Grupo Modelo, which was acquired by AB InBev in 2012, is expanding their Academia de Meseros Modelo to help 4,000 waiters upskill using on-line training.

Sanofi, GSK working together to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Image: Sanofi Pasteur / Norbert Domy

Two of the world’s biggest vaccine makers, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi, are collaborating on a COVID-19 vaccine. The pharma giants are aiming to get a treatment on the market in the next 12 to 18 months.

Sanofi will contribute its S-protein COVID-19 antigen, which is based on recombinant DNA technology, or the practice of joining together of DNA molecules from different species. For its part, GSK will contribute its proven pandemic adjuvant technology to the collaboration.

An adjuvant is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response, and has been shown to create a stronger and longer lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone.

“As the world faces this unprecedented global health crisis, it is clear that no one company can go it alone,” Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said.

The companies have said they would make any vaccine that is developed through the collaboration affordable to the public and through mechanisms that offer fair access for everyone around the world.

$8 billion needed for Covid-19 research and development: Wellcome Trust launches Covid-Zero Initiative

Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome Trust
Image: World Economic Forum / Valeriano Di Domenico.

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, an expert group convened by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, estimates that an initial $8bn is needed to research, develop and deliver treatments, tests and vaccines.

Tens of billions more will be needed over the coming year to produce and procure the new medicines as soon as they are developed. Much of this funding will need to come from governments, and the European Commission is galvanizing donors through a virtual pledging conference on May 4.

Wellcome Trust, a Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum and co-founder of the COVID Action Platform, has invited corporations and investment funds, as well as individual business leaders with philanthropic capacity, to play a part in this society-wide effort and donate funds through a new initiative called COVID-Zero.

Speaking to leaders during a recent COVID Action Platform call, Wellcome Trust director Jeremy Farrar said COVID-Zero was an opportunity for companies to advance the science which will eventually reduce business disruption. Since launching COVID-Zero, Wellcome has opened discussions with business donors keen to invest millions of dollars. Mastercard and Citadel are among those who have already stepped up to fund research and development, the Trust said.

Donated funds will directly help efforts to find drugs and improve tests, through CEPI, the organisation which develops vaccines against epidemic threats, and through the WHO, which plays a critical coordinating role. There are few better investments any business can make today.

“Those with the vision and imagination to finance this research will be able to say to their employees, to their customers, to their communities, that they did more than treat all their stakeholders well during the greatest global crisis since 1945,” said Mark Henderson of Wellcome. “They will also be able to say that they were a critical part of the solution.”

To get involved with COVID-Zero, please contact the team.

World’s biggest soap company delivers free sanitizer, soap, bleach and food worth €100 million to areas in need - at speed

Unilever has donated free sanitizer, soap, bleach and food worth €100 million to the world’s neediest - with half of its donation being delivered at speed through the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform.

In an interview with the Forum, Rebecca Marmot, Chief Sustainability Officer at Unilever, said it leveraged its product portfolio to fight the COVID crisis, using the platform to partner with like-minded companies.

Unilever Chief Sustainability Officer Rebecca Marmot on their work with the COVID Action Platform

Marmot said speed and agility were two of the most important factors the COVID Action Platform offered, to get the donations to the areas most in need.

Until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, soap remains the best first line of defence, the company noted. Unilever has launched initiatives in the US, India, China, UK, Netherlands, Italy and other countries around the world, with teams manufacturing and distributing millions of bars of free soap.

Giving advice and guidance to other companies, Marmot encouraged businesses to look out for their employees and their mental health, and to be aware of the true influence they can have in using their brands to reinforce government safety messages.

Organizations globally are invited to partner with the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform, which ensures global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community in response to the spread of COVID-19.

These plasma therapies could treat high-risk COVID-19 patients

Workers at a Takeda pharma factory
Image: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Biopharmaceutical leader Takeda is working with the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance to accelerate the development of a plasma-based treatment which could treat people suffering from coronavirus.

The treatment can only be produced at scale if the alliance can access plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 or who have been vaccinated against the virus, once a vaccine is developed. These donors who have recovered from coronavirus have developed antibodies that could mitigate the severity of illness in COVID-19 patients and perhaps even prevent it. Once these antibodies are transferred to a new patient, it is likely that person’s immune system will respond to the infection and consequently boost their recovery.

As the necessary plasma is unlikely to come from current plasma donors, Takeda will start by producing the therapy in an isolated area at its site in Georgia.

“Plasma-derived therapies are critical, life-saving medicines that thousands of people with rare and complex diseases rely on every day around the world,” said Dr. Chris Morabito, Takeda’s Head of Research and Development, Plasma-Derived Therapies Business Unit.

Takeda is currently in discussions with national health agencies and healthcare partners in the US, Asia, and Europe to step up the pace and push the research forward.

Across West Africa companies are convening to fight COVID-19 pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact around the world, with the outbreak now also beginning to spread in Africa. As of 9 April, the number of cases on the continent had surpassed 10,000. As the virus spreads, experts are seeking way to reduce the impact on vulnerable communities in West Africa, a region where healthcare capacity is limited but major lessons were learnt during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Companies active across West Africa are sharing information and co-ordinating their responses through the West Africa Private Sector Coronavirus Platform (WAPSCON19) which is focusing on the livelihoods and health of the wider community as well as keeping employees healthy and safe and businesses running. The leading steel and mining company Arcelor Mittal, is convening private sector players, including Sierra Rutile in Sierra Leone, to play an active role in supporting the region.

The structure of WAPSCON19 allows each country to contribute and key members in Liberia and Ghana have already volunteered to chair discussions. One senior private sector executive per country will lead the work nationally, and host calls and initiate cooperation with other businesses operating in the same country. The exercise aims to create local capacity to respond to the threat of Covid-19, under the umbrella of “country hubs”.

If your organization is ready to play a leading role in fighting coronavirus request access to the COVID Action Platform here.

Mastercard, Wellcome, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launch a COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator - scaled up through the COVID Action Platform

A new project on the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform, the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, is a commitment from Mastercard, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust, of up to $125 million in seed funding to speed-up the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling-up treatments.

Mastercard, a Strategic Partner of the Forum, announced the initiative, which will also involve the World Health Organization, governments, and the private sector, as well as global regulatory and policy-setting institutions will evaluate and accelerate new and repurposed drugs and biologics to treat patients with COVID-19.

Currently, there are no broad-spectrum antivirals or immunotherapies available for the fight against emerging pathogens, and none approved for use on COVID-19.

This global challenge not only represents a risk to the health and safety of populations all over the world, but also poses a potential disruption to the economic vitality of millions of people, businesses, and organizations worldwide.

— Mike Froman, Vice Chairman of Mastercard

The Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust are each contributing up to $50 million, and the Mastercard Impact Fund has committed up to $25 million for the initial work of the accelerator. The project will ensure an end-to-end focus, from drug pipeline development to manufacturing and distribution. The project has already awarded an initial $20 million in grants to three institutions. By sharing research and resources and coordinating investments - this multistakeholder partnership can accelerate research and solutions to COVID-19.

Companies can find out more about the project and how to engage via the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform. If you’re already a Partner or Member of the Forum, find out more on TopLink.

Wipro rolls out COVID response focused on humanitarian aid

Rishad Premji, Chairman, Wipro, India
Image: World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

Global information technology and business services company Wipro Ltd and Azim Premji Foundation have together committed ₹1125 crore (approximately $147.4 million) towards mitigating the health crisis which has arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company, which is headquartered in Bangalore, India, pledged to roll out a wide-ranging response to the virus on-the-ground, with a focus on immediate humanitarian aid. The company also specified they are committed to augmenting healthcare capacity and treating those affected by the deadly coronavirus.

"These resources will help enable the dedicated medical and service fraternity in the frontline of the battle against the pandemic and in mitigating its wide-ranging human impact, particularly on the most disadvantaged of our society," Wipro said in a statement which characterised the COVID-19 pandemic as the most significant threat confronting modern society.

Standard Chartered injects big liquidity into the fight against COVID-19

Image: Standard Chartered Bank

International banking group Standard Chartered launched a $50 million global fund to help people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Group has already provided $25 million to support emergency relief in countries where the number of COVID-19 cases has soared and healthcare facilities are under significant pressure. The additional $25 million will help communities and businesses recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.

In addition, the Group is committing up to $1 billion in loans, import/export financing and working capital for certain companies fighting COVID-19, and support industry leaders who are adapting production resources to help fight the pandemic. Companies in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare providers are set to benefit most from these funds, but Standard Chartered will also support non-medical companies that have responded to the crisis by adding capability to their manufacturing plants. Goods within this scope include ventilators, face masks, protective equipment and sanitisers.

Coca-Cola re-deploys resources to make face shields for those on the COVID-19 frontline in North America

Across North America, the Coca-Cola Company is re-deploying its resources to meet the needs of those on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight.

In Boston, the company has provided logistics and supply chain support to a not-for-profit, to help produce face shields for frontline health workers.

Coca-Cola also facilitated and transported large-scale donations of PET plastic sheeting to make the shields.

More broadly, the Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded $13.5 million in grants to not-for-profit organizations responding to the coronavirus in North America and Canada. The latest grants support economically disadvantaged communities – with one grant enabling 200 food banks to feed vulnerable populations. Other grants are funding childcare for emergency health workers, mental health and counselling, and other emergency aid resources.

We are using the resources of our company and The Coca-Cola Foundation to make a difference by providing much-needed assistance to organizations that are positioned to mobilize quickly and provide essential humanitarian relief.

—James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company, a Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum, has also donated grants globally, namely to China and Italy. The company, like many others, is continuing to monitor the crisis in order to offer additional support as needed.

Top tech firm pledges $225 million in battle against COVID-19

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins says the company must respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Image: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Global technology leader Cisco Systems is committing $225 million to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds will support healthcare, education, government responses and relevant technology. Cisco is distributing a portion of this commitment through the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which is supporting the World Health Organization’s work on managing the COVID-19 outbreak.

As the global workforce adjusts to working remotely, Cisco technology is securing over 2.2 million people online, including those on the front lines of the crisis. Its video conferencing platform Webex has facilitated virtual meetings for the French, Canadian, German and Colombian governments as they coordinate policy responses to manage the coronavirus crisis.

“Cisco must, and will, do even more to help others respond to this global pandemic,” said Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins. He has joined over 30 CEOs from various technology companies in Silicon Valley to pledge support for local organizations providing support to vulnerable communities.

‘These vaccines are the exit strategy’ - CEPI calls on business leaders to dedicate funds to solve COVID-19, not just cope

The CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Richard Hatchett, has called on business leaders to allocate a small proportion of the funds being used to cope with COVID-19 to also help solve the pandemic.

In a high-level COVID Action Platform Virtual Meeting hosted by the World Economic Forum, Hatchett said for businesses the shift in funding would be “the best investment your companies will ever make.”

World Economic Forum's COVID Action Platform Virtual Meeting

CEPI was launched in 2017 at the Forum's Annual Meeting. The organization has invested nearly $30 million in eight COVID-19 vaccine projects to date. These included four rapid response programmes and four programmes as a result of a Call for Proposals, which invited funding applications for proven technology that could be used to rapidly develop a vaccine against COVID-19.

There are no guarantees of success, but early estimates suggest that safe and effective vaccines may be available for broader use within the next 12-18 months. With further funding, CEPI would be able to speed up its efforts to develop a vaccine ready for use.

CEPI estimates that it will cost the world collectively $2 billion to advance three vaccine candidates through to large-scale clinical trials. To date, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway and the UK have provided around $660 million towards this goal - but more support is crucial.

In addition to further funding, partnerships are crucial to scaling up vaccine development. Businesses are invited to work together on the COVID Action Platform, partnering with a range of multistakeholder organizations including CEPI, the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum to help solve the coronavirus crisis.

Funding for ventilators, testing kits, and a new quarantine facility provide free care to COVID-19 patients in India

Infosys, Strategic Partner of the Forum, has dedicated INR 100 crore in funding for hospital capacity treatment, ventilators, testing kits and protective gear for frontline health workers to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 across India.

Infosys Foundation has also partnered with Narayana Health City in Bengaluru to launch a 100-room quarantine facility for COVID-19 patients. The facility will benefit patients in need in the most vulnerable sections of society - with regular monitoring from doctors, nurses and essential medication provided free of charge.

The Foundation is also working to ensure better access to food and nutrition for the underprivileged in India, who are among the hardest hit by the crisis. Twenty-one day food packages currently being distributed include staples like rice, lentils, cooking oil and other essentials.

Infosys Foundation says these are unprecedented times that require every section of society to rise to the challenge. At the time of writing, there are more than 2,000 cases of COVID-19 in India.

50 million meals and local humanitarian support - PepsiCo responds to coronavirus

PepsiCo - a Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum and member of the COVID Action Platform - is directing a $45 million COVID-19 response initiative to communities hardest hit by the pandemic. From funding medical needs that include protective gear for health workers, testing and screening services, as well as distributing 50 million meals to at-risk populations, the company is providing essential donations around the globe.

Credit: Banco de Alimentos Quito

In North America, PepsiCo is increasing access for out-of-school children to food, funding medical services and providing financial support for out-of-work restaurant workers.

In Europe, efforts are centred on the distribution of meals, healthcare equipment and transportation to support the most vulnerable groups in society, while boosting local health and relief systems where countries are in lockdown and hospitals are struggling with capacity.

Meal distribution, strengthening local food bank capabilities and helping to alleviate hunger in vulnerable communities is the focus in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Rim.

The Forum is galvanizing the business community for collective action in response to the coronavirus crisis through its COVID Action Platform. Companies globally are invited to join the platform and scale their response efforts to the pandemic.

World Economic Forum guides businesses in their response to COVID-19 – encouraging bold leadership and solidarity

As countries continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses need to respond to urgent concerns from their workforces around safety and support.

Most employers are putting in place new measures for their workforces rapidly – often with no previous comparable experiences.

Businesses should sustainably manage the shift to flexible/remote working
Image: Andrew Neel/UNSplash

To help guide chief human resource officers and other business leaders through this unfolding crisis, the World Economic Forum published The Workforce Principles for the COVID-19 Pandemic in collaboration with Willis Towers Watson.

“This crisis presents an opportunity to take bold actions and show leadership and solidarity,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “Responsible employers can apply these principles and guidelines to better balance short-term crisis measures against the medium- and long-term objectives.”

These actions can include protecting salaries and benefits, as well as providing learning opportunities to make progress against reskilling and workforce-transformation objectives. Such an approach enables organizations to earn the trust of employees and unlock the discretionary effort needed to move the organization forward in turbulent times.

Local investment for the United States ramps up as the infection rate climbs

As the United States braces for the impact of coronavirus, with the infection rate climbing, biotechnological company Amgen, which is engaged with the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform, is directing US $12.5 million to support relief efforts to address critical needs in US communities impacted by COVID-19.

Amgen has also stepped up its dissemination of critical medical information during the coronavirus crisis in its COVID-19 information centre, which features resources including videos answering questions about whether to wear a face mask out in public and information addressing anxiety related to COVID-19 and asking experts for help. Their audience is patients, the public, medical professionals and local communities.

The company’s US $12.5 million donation is being invested at a local level - on response funds awarded to non-profit organizations and those working at the frontline of the outbreak in communities in the US.

LEGO prioritizes the critical needs of children during the coronavirus crisis

LEGO, a partner of the World Economic Forum, has launched two initiatives to support children around the world during the COVID-19 crisis - from the most vulnerable in refugee camps and war-torn countries, to children experiencing quarantine in urban areas.

The LEGO Foundation will donate US $50 million to ensure children, particularly those most affected by the COVID-19 crisis, continue to have access to learning through play. They will reach children in emergency situations with essential supplies, ensuring education and play across communities most in need.

The second initiative is a new website which encourages families worldwide to connect to play-based learning across social media. The hope is that families and children can connect online via their free site to share creativity and play ideas, learn from LEGO designers and help children to continue building life-long skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and developing new forms of fun while away from school. The initiative also aims to alleviate stress on parents during this unprecedented event.

UNESCO reports most governments around the world have temporarily closed education institutions - affecting more than 80% of the world’s school population.

Support for frontline healthcare workers & a commitment to supply one billion vaccines globally

After launching a commitment of $250 million over 10 years to frontline healthcare workers at the 50th Annual Meeting in Davos 2020, Johnson & Johnson have announced an additional $50 million to support frontline healthcare workers fighting coronavirus.

The funds will be invested to support doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers treating patients worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporting health workers is a legacy of the company - in the early 1900s, Johnson & Johnson helped limit the spread of the Spanish flu by introducing the epidemic mask.

Serving doctors, nurses and health workers is who we are and what we do—and has been since 1886. Those at the front lines are our colleagues, family members, customers and partners—so we join the millions around the world who put them front and center right now, to support them as they provide care amidst Covid-19.

—Michael Sneed, Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs & Chief Communication Officer, Johnson & Johnson

The company has also this week (30 March) announced its goal to scale up manufacturing capacity to supply one billion vaccines worldwide for emergency pandemic use, with the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine potentially available for emergency use in early 2021.

Companies worldwide are investing funds, innovating, and providing resources and manpower to fight COVID-19. Read about a range of multistakeholder projects launched via the Forum’s COVID Action Platform.

P&G to produce 45,000 litres of hand sanitizer weekly

As demand for hand sanitizer around the world has increased, Procter & Gamble (P&G) has responded by installing new production lines in five manufacturing sites around the world. When fully operational, the company will produce 45,000 litres per week, and most of this supply will go to hospitals, health authorities and relief organizations.

One of the world’s leading consumer goods companies, P&G is also providing product donations and financial support to communities fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has committed contributions of product and in-kind support that exceed $15 million.

P&G is also donating products from 30 brands in more than 20 countries to communities around the world so families can access cleaning products as well as health and hygiene supplies.In addition to direct support, P&G is providing cash support to a range of disaster relief organizations including the International Federation of Red Cross, which is co-chairing The World Economic Forum’s Humanitarian Investing Initiative.

$800 million commitment from Google helps WHO, governments, small-to-mid sized businesses and frontline health workers

Google has stepped up its response to the coronavirus pandemic, pledging a total of $800 million to support small- and medium-sized businesses, governments, health organizations and health workers fighting COVID-19.

After announcing an initial $25 million in advertising grants last month, the company has now increased its grant commitment to $250 million - specifically for the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 100 government agencies globally to provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As part of their total commitment, $20 million in advertising grants will be given to community financial institutions and NGOs to run public service announcements and provide other resources for small-to-medium-sized businesses. Another initiative is a $200 million investment fund, which will support NGOs and banks worldwide to give small businesses access to capital.

Google has also created a website dedicated to COVID-19 help and resources - ensuring safety and prevention tips reach people in need. The company says coronavirus is taking a devastating toll on lives and communities. Its commitment will help address some of the challenges globally.

Nestlé provides emergency help - donating food, medical nutrition products, bottled water & CHF 10 million to countries in greatest need

Nestlé has stepped up its humanitarian efforts in the response to COVID-19 by partnering with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to provide urgent help to emergency services, caregivers, and to strengthen health systems.

The company, a Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum and member of our COVID Action Platform, will donate food, medical nutrition products and bottled water to bring relief to those most affected by the pandemic.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem and consequently we are offering help on the ground everywhere, drawing on our extensive presence and experience in 187 countries. We applaud the relentless efforts of the millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and admire their determination to make a difference on the ground."

— Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestlé

Nestlé has immediately made a donation of CHF 10 million for countries most in need, and will deploy available logistics capacities to support the needs of IFRC in countries around the world.

Millions of face masks donated to the frontline in the US and Europe

Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple has announced this week that the company has sourced, procured and is donating 10 million masks to the medical community in the United States, and millions more for the European regions hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with frontline health employees, Apple has recognized and thanked essential workers across the supply chain - from warehouse and delivery workers to those stocking supermarket shelves - for their tireless efforts to deliver vital services in the face of COVID-19.

Other major tech companies globally have also pledged to donate face masks as a frontline defence against coronavirus. It is one example of how organizations are mobilizing cooperation and business support for the COVID-19 response.

HP CEO calls on companies and business leaders to step up their response to COVID-19

After HP committed to donating millions of dollars in technology and support to help students, families, and communities, President and CEO Enrique Lores issued a call-to-action to companies and business leaders globally to step forward and play a more significant role in overcoming obstacles during the coronavirus crisis, creating opportunities for the future.

It’s incumbent on business leaders everywhere to commit to supporting employees at every level of their organization in the unpredictable weeks and months ahead.

— Enrique Lores, President & CEO, HP Inc.

Along with the support for employees, HP Inc is designing and producing essential parts for medical responders and hospitals, thanks to its 3D Printing team and Digital Manufacturing Partner Network.

These parts include ventilator valves, breathing filters, face mask clasps, and innovations like plastic door handle adaptors that enable easy elbow opening to prevent further spread of the virus.

If companies are struggling to know where to begin in harnessing their efforts to respond to the crisis - they are invited join the Forum’s COVID Action Platform, to connect with other businesses, governments and civil society to respond to the world’s greatest needs during the spread of COVID-19.

Healthcare financing comes to low-income countries fighting a virus that doesn’t respect borders

The public-private global health partnership GAVI, founded at the World Economic Forum in 2000, protects people's health by increasing access to immunization in poor countries.

Today, GAVI is giving emerging economies the tools to fight Coronavirus by allowing certain low-income countries to reallocate 10% of grants to their COVID-19 response.

This will allow countries to improve hygiene and infection control training for health workers, boost infection control supplies, and increase laboratory testing until funds being allocated by the global community for the COVID response are available.

“This disease doesn’t respect borders, which is why it will take a truly global response to defeat it,”

—Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board.

The organization is working with WHO, CEPI, World Bank, UNICEF and partners from across the healthcare industry to accelerate priority candidate COVID-19 vaccines.

Since its launch 20 years ago GAVI has contributed to the immunization of 760 million children, and saved more than 13 million lives.

Production of critical care products increases, helping patients diagnosed with COVID-19

Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology and Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum, announced this week an increase in the production of critical care products and solutions to help diagnose and treat patients with coronavirus.

From vital signs monitors and portable ventilators to medical consumables to treat a broad range of respiratory conditions, a variety of products are needed to prepare for, respond to and ensure the recovery of patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Diagnostic imaging systems and hospital telehealth solutions from Philips will also assist in the monitoring and management of patients in intensive care units – while also connecting caregivers and patients at home.

Soaring numbers of new coronavirus patients are putting the world’s health services under strain, and more medical experts, equipment and supplies are needed globally to fight the pandemic.

The first human trial of a COVID-19 vaccine was administered in mid-March

The first Phase 1 study for a COVID-19 vaccine began in mid-March. Forty-five volunteers are expected to participate in the trial. The vaccine itself will not be available to the general public for at least a year to ensure if it is both safe and effective.

The Phase 1 study received funding support from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). CEPI was launched at the World Economic Forum in 2017. The organization this week announced their seventh COVID-19 vaccine project in the fight against the pandemic.

CEPI brings together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and to enable access to these vaccines during outbreaks.

Davos 2019 - Press Conference: CEPI - Building a Global Coalition to End Epidemics

Coalitions like CEPI are made possible through public-private partnerships. The World Economic Forum is the global platform for stakeholder engagement, bringing together a range of leaders from business, government and civil society to improve the state of the world. You can partner directly with our Platform for Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare to contribute to global health solutions.

Using biology to accelerate the search for potential COVID-19 vaccine

As coronavirus disrupts communities and economies around the world, the race is on to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and the world is watching.

Synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks is bringing its research and development experience into the fight against the pandemic and is speeding up the development of a vaccine by bringing together different teams who are working on an inoculation.

A technician works in the inoculation area during preparations to produce vaccines for the H1N1 flu virus at a lab in Wuhan, Hubei province June 17, 2009. Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech Ltd hopes to put its H1N1 vaccine through its first clinical trial by the end of July, as pharmaceutical firms race to put vaccines against the new flu virus into commercial production. Thousands of chicken eggs were readied to grow the H1N1 virus on Monday, after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic last Thursday and warned governments to prepare for a long battle against the virus. Picture taken June 17, 2009. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA HEALTH SOCIETY SCI TECH BUSINESS) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA - GM1E56I0YHF01
Image: REUTERS/China Daily

The company, which is part of the Forum Vanguard community, has made a USD 25 million commitment and is working with the Forum's Platform for Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare to engage companies and research labs that are developing drugs or vaccines.

This effort also includes support for sharing R&D information as quickly as possible once it is discovered by academics and companies working on solutions to the pandemic.

A new plan takes COVID-19 advice across Africa

More than 600 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in 34 countries in Africa as of 19 March, according to the World Health Organization. Responding to the rapidly changing situation on a continent with specific healthcare challenges, a leading data intelligence firm has created a new plan to disseminate guidance on COVID-19 among the 42 countries of the African Union.

Africa Media Leader Briefing on COVID-19

Through a public-private partnership, the NGO Resolve to Save Lives and the African Centre for Disease Control are working with IPSOS to gather data-driven insights which will allow them to create tailored guidelines on preventative measures on COVID-19. The coalition was able to use each partner’s expertise to make a plan within a week that could deliver this solution fast and at scale.

Universities continue teaching the next generation of leaders

Centres of learning across the world, including those which are members of the The Global University Leaders Forum (GULF) community, are responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Many have moved classes online, reduced all but critical research, and are even planning for virtual graduation ceremonies.

Coursera

In response to the situation, Coursera, partners of the Forum's Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society, is providing universities with free access to over 3,800 courses from leading universities and companies. Through their online platform students can continue their studies in areas ranging from Computer Science to Arts and Humanities. Videos, assignments and readings are available in a range of languages and can be access via web, mobile, or download.

Crisis-affected art museums, research projects and youth organizations receive a boost in funding

The Carlsberg Foundation has launched funding for grants that will mobilize and support researchers, art museums and youth civil society in the scientific, economic and human efforts during this new era as society is challenged by the COVID-19 epidemic.

A significant investment was made to restart crisis-affected art museums in Denmark. Many art museums are temporarily closed on instructions from the authorities in connection with COVID-19, and the funding for art museums will assist with the implementation of programs that will draw guests back to museums when they reopen.

Funds were also provided for an emergency pool for civil society youth organizations to launch activities targeted at people who are particularly affected by COVID-19.

From supporting research on viruses to human behaviour, and donating to research the outbreak, spread and cessation of historical epidemics – the funding is set to encourage other businesses to invest in new ways to support the local and global economy during the coronavirus crisis.

Fashion and beauty brands are shifting gears to make masks and hand sanitiser

Factories that usually produce fashion and beauty products are shifting gears and joining the fight against COVID-19.

Kering SA, the conglomerate behind luxury fashion labels Balenciaga and Saint Laurent, said it would switch factory operations to producing surgical masks for French hospitals, with the approval of health authorities.

Inditex, which owns fashion retailer Zara, said it was looking into ways to convert part of its textile manufacturing capacity in Spain to make hospital gowns.

It was also planning to donate 300,000 masks and make its logistics and supplier network available to meet demand of emergency medical supplies.

H&M has followed suit and has offered to donate and source supplies of protective masks, gowns and gloves to countries most affected in the EU.

Luxury firm LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, TAG Heuer and many other brands, will use its perfume production infrastructure to make hand sanitiser.

“LVMH will use the production lines of its perfume and cosmetic brands... to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gels,” the company said in a statement.

LVMH will use perfume production lines to produce hydroalcoholic gels
Image: REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

And the company is not stopping there. LVMH, a partner of the Forum, has also pledged to work with a Chinese industrial supplier to secure 10 million surgical face masks which will be distributed to French health services.

The cloud is keeping education going during the COVID-19 crisis in Bahrain

With COVID-related school closures increasing globally, across the Middle East companies are asking: how can the cloud power schools and universities to run their classes remotely?

Bahrain’s Ministry of Education has worked with the Kingdom’s Information & eGovernment Authority to create a dedicated electronic education portal - used by students to view lessons, download education materials, complete their homework online, and participate in discussions with classmates.

Social media concept.
As of mid-March, the total number of students using the portal was 146,498, and 15,681 teachers.

This, in addition to government-mandated use of the cloud, means Bahrain, with its cloud-first vision, has ensured continuity of education nationwide during the COVID crisis.

The Tata Group pledges $200 million for affected communities, free education software and a COVID-19 patient tracker to fight the virus

Tata Consultancy Services, Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum and member of the COVID Action Platform, has pledged funds, offered free education software and harnessed research expertise in the fight against COVID-19.

The larger Tata Group has pledged more than US $200 million to protect and empower affected communities - working closely with the governments in countries where they operate. The funds will provide personal protective equipment for health workers on the frontline, respiratory systems, testing kits, treatment facilities and training for health workers.

Tata is also working on a COVID-19 patient tracker for clinical trials and harnessing their expertise to explore promising ideas for affordable and effective ventilators and medical kits.Their research and development is focused on addressing the highest priority needs worldwide.

CEO and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services, Rajesh Gopinathan, has urged all companies to be leaders in responding to the COVID crisis globally.

The company has also made their distance learning software platform available for free to educational institutions. The mobile and web platform empowers educators to engage with students in real time - sharing educational materials including videos, assignments and assessments in an interactive way - with even the option to simulate live classroom teaching.