The race is on to save patients lives and the global economy. The stakes are high, very high. As the world shelters in place, economies have cratered, businesses have had their plans turned upside down and millions are filing for unemployment. The human toll of fatalities from the coronavirus are being felt throughout the world.
The last time in history when almost everyone on the planet was talking about the same thing was when man first stepped on the moon. Science is in the race of their lives to find effective treatments and a vaccine for the coronavirus. Peoples lives are depending on it and the world economy is too! Collaboration ammong scientists all over the world is at an all-time high!
Trials, Treatment Data & Treatment Regimens
There are also hopes for an effective treatment using antibody-rich plasma from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus. This approach has proven to be an effective treatment in instances of other illnesses. We believe that science will prevail, the only question is when? The "when" however is mission critical.
As we have said in earlier posts, the markets and the economy will chart a recovery path alongside the discovery of approved anti-viral treatment regimens, widespread testing and a vaccine for the coronavirus. A vaccine however, is probably at least 18 months away and that would be a very quick development curve compared to the more typical 4-10 year timelines for bringing a vaccine to market.
Effective anti-viral treatments will hopefully be found much sooner. WHO (World Health Organization) trials are underway testing up to 4 different drugs and combinations with over 3000 patients enrolled. As results are shared ammong the scientific and medical community worldwide, we hope that one or more treatment regimens can emerge and prove out to be effective at scale.
Testing is KEY
Widespread coronavirus testing will be needed to more quickly identify and quarantine those who have it. Likewise, widespread anti-body testing will be needed so people who have had the coronavirus and were asymptomatic can go back to work. This may end up being a far larger number of people than is currently known. If the number of asymptmatic carriers is far greater than is currently known, this will change the scientific and socio-economic thinking about the coronavirus and will become essential data in charting a way forward. We need the hard data to know this which in-turn will require testing on a scale that can determine this. Mobilizing the life science industry at scale is key to this.
Economic Recovery - How Long?
The likely path that an economic recovery may take is still being debated by economists and analysts, even if several effective anti-viral treatments do emerge. The following are just some of the key unknown variables:
a) Businesses and their supply lines will take time to get back up and running. How long by industry category?
b) There will be a recurring wave of coronvirus infections in the fall and winter of 2020. How will this be managed?
c) Consumers who are key drivers for the economy may be more cuatious intitially, especially with another wave of coronavirus infections expected in the Fall of 2020.
d) Unemployment numbers are already greater than the 2007/8 recession and have crossed the 10 million mark. Businesses may re-hire in phases and it could take more time than is currently anticipated to get all those who recently filed for unemployment benefits back into the work force.
Economists and analysts differ on the timelline for an economic recovery ranging from a V-shaped, U-shaped or L-shaped recovery.
Given the uncertainty around timelines for finding effective treatments, a vaccine, a recurring wave of coronavirus infections in the Fall and Winter of 2020, the unknown timelines to rebuild supply lines and importantly a more cautious (initially) consumer, we think a V-shaped recovery (which is the current prevailing majority view) is overly optimistic and we are leaning towards a U-Shaped recovery at this point in time.
With so much at stake, the race is on among the global scientific community, governments and the life sciences industry to find effective treatments and a vaccine, manufacture and distribute these at scale for a global population. Until there is more certainty around the above and other important variables any guesstimated timeline for recovery is tentative.