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COVID-19 Business Continuity – Update on Vaccines

I’m here with the COVID-19 continuity update for Australian businesses on 9th February 2021.

In this briefing, I provide an update on the rollout of vaccinations and what it might mean for Australian businesses.

In general, covid-19 is currently having minimal impact upon the majority of Australian businesses (and their owners’ personal lives). While our clients in Perth went into lockdown for 5 days last week and the easing of restrictions in Victoria were delayed, the situation in Australia is nothing like the 6pm curfew in place in France.

However, one thing we know from the northern hemisphere’s experience with covid is that winter can be a time when the virus spreads more readily.

With four months until our Australian winter, I thought it would be a good time to discuss how the vaccines are progressing and what the likely scenario is in Australia as the government starts to roll out the Australian vaccination program.

When I first wrote about vaccines in July last year, the expert views at the time were predicting vaccines to be available between 5 months and 2 1/2 years. Fortunately, the earlier prediction has come to fruition, with many countries implementing rapid roll outs from December 2020.

Australia has been slower to commence vaccinations compared to other countries. That provides us with a good viewpoint to observe the process and results of those other countries that are further ahead.

At this stage Israel is the best example to look at as they are the most advanced nation in their vaccine roll out plan. Here are some of the observations from Israel’s vaccine program:

Key points:

  • Vaccinations commenced 19 December 2020.
  • Within 6 weeks, 3.1m people had received the first dose and 1.8m had received the second dose. The second dose means those people are now fully vaccinated.
  • The vaccine being used in Israel is the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
  • Early findings show the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is performing well, resulting in fewer new infections and is at least 50% effective within 13 to 24 days after the first dose (before the second booster dose).
  • Other independent research supports the findings that a single dose of the vaccine is highly protective, although it can take up to 21 days to achieve this.
  • The early results coming from Israel support the UK policy of extending the gap between doses by showing that a single dose can give a high level of protection.
  • Israel is planning to have the 80% of their population of 9 million people vaccinated by end of May 2021. Yes, that’s only 3 ½ months away!

To give you a point of reference, the influenza vaccine has an effectiveness rate of 40-60%. For a comparison with other common vaccinations in Australia, the effectiveness rates are:

  • Tuberculosis: 70-80%
  • Whooping Cough: 71-94%
  • Measles: 96-99%

Source: https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccine-preventable-diseases

At this stage, it is not known how the vaccine will perform on the more contagious variants of the virus. Israel currently has 30 cases of the South African strain and so we’ll keep an eye on how effective the vaccine performs to slow the spread over the coming months as they continue their vaccinations to their targeted completion date of May.

Australia’s vaccination program

Key points:

  • The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is now eligible to apply for provisional registration with the TGA.
  • Australia has secured 20 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and when the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is approved, 50 million doses of that vaccine will be manufactured in Australia.
  • The vaccine will be voluntary, universal and free.
  • Vaccinations are on track to commence late February 2021 (target completion date is October 2021.)
  • The vaccination program will be implemented in stages:
    • Phase 1a: Frontline healthcare workers and quarantine and border workers, aged care and disability care residents and workers.
    • Phase 1b: Elderly (70+) and high health risk people, and critical and high risk workers including defence, emergency services, meat processing, other health care.
    • Phase 2a: 50+ years old, and other critical and high risk workers.
    • Phase 2b: General population (adults below 50 years old who are not in a high risk category for their health or industry).
    • Phase 3: under 16 years old, if recommended.

For more information on Australia’s vaccine implementation strategy, see: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/getting-vaccinated-for-covid-19

What this means for Tenfold clients

Many businesses we coach and mentor are riding a wave of domestic spending as people invest in their own homes – benefiting construction, trade and home improvement businesses.

Local tourism businesses are also doing well with regional tourism businesses enjoying a boom as more Australians are holidaying in their home states and neighbouring states and spending the government tourism incentives.

If the vaccination programs around the world go well, international travel may recommence and at that time it is likely that we’ll see a pullback in some of this domestic construction and local tourism. My advice is to be aware; prepare and plan for what might happen with your business coach.

It is likely that vaccination programs will hit hurdles; when this happens, expect a shock to hit the share market and maybe a pause in the fast-rising property market.

If we take a wider-range view, the scientific community has proven that vaccines can be produced to combat this virus, and while there might be issues with virus variants and the performance of vaccines in certain health groups (such as the elderly or immunocompromised), I feel we can be confident that the vaccine manufacturers will innovate their vaccines to overcome these challenges.

Ash

Ashley Thomson B.Eng. (Hons), Grad. Dip. Mgmt, MEI
Managing Director
Tenfold Business Coaching

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