What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.

The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

1. How COVID-19 is impacting the globe

  • Confirmed coronavirus cases are at more than 3.6 million worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 257,000 people have died from the virus, while over 1.1 million have recovered.

US private employers laid off a record 20.2 million workers in April as mandatory business closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the world's largest economy.

ADP, which processes payrolls for companies across America, reported earlier today that private sector employment decreased by 20,236,000 jobs from March to April.

These historic job losses - the worst ever recorded by ADP - eclipse the previous record of around 835,000 jobs lost in February 2009 during the financial crisis.

The report sends an ominous signal ahead of the US government’s more comprehensive employment report for April, which will be released on Friday.

Communication is critical during a health crisis like coronavirus and countries are working to connect with their populations online. A recent UN review found that most (around 86% of its 193 member states) presented information and guidance about COVID-19 on their government websites by 8 April. This is an improvement over March where 40% of countries had no information in place.

A growing number of countries are sharing vital information.
A growing number of countries are sharing vital information.
Image: UN DESA

Looking to make sense of the vast amounts of data generated by the coronavirus crisis? As you do, be careful to avoid comparing one country's numbers to another. Here's just a few reasons why:

  • Death rates are complicated. They aren't always recorded in the same ways by every country. For instance, deaths by someone suffering from a different preventable disease might not be counted as a coronavirus mortality.
  • Countries have different populations. Africa, which has a younger population, could be impacted differently than a country with an older population such as Italy or Japan.

5. Here's what post-pandemic travel could look like

How countries respond to post-COVID-19 travel will vary around the globe, explained two authors for the Conversation this week. Small island communities might greet visitors with hazmat suits and require quarantines. Other countries might take a different tack, depending on their population and the spread of the disease at that time.

Likely the days of short international travel will be over, as well as long trips involving stops in multiple countries. Said the authors: "In the absence of universal vaccination, tighter constraints on human mobility will presumably remain in place – perhaps for a long time."

6. Here's what hospitals can teach hotels about life after COVID-19

Hotels might need a mindset shift as lockdowns ease, say experts from Jefferson Health this week in Agenda. They explain that hotels might need to take cues from hospitals, establishing "incident command centres" to respond easily to unexpected problems and instituting protocols for cleaning and health response.

Hotels, say the authors, will need to see themselves as safety companies that provide hospitality services. "It is that kind of promise, delivered through your staff, that will encourage your customers to return."