coronavirus outbreak

// 03.26.2020

7 inspiring business responses to the coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus outbreak is affecting the world in its entirety, and apart from those who have lived through times of war, few of us have experienced anything similar. Individuals, businesses and governments have no case studies to look at as they work tirelessly to co-ordinate their responses, and the coronavirus pandemic is a time when we are all vulnerable. Perhaps it is this collective experience that has prompted so many inspiring responses from businesses around the world, redirecting resources and funding innovation to combat the coronavirus outbreak. So, here are seven responses showing the world coming together.

1. Supermarkets for the vulnerable

We know that the elderly are among those at highest risk of experiencing severe cases of coronavirus. So, protecting them is a priority. But many still need to visit essential stores such as supermarkets which is at odds with social distancing. Luckily, countless supermarkets around the globe have implemented exclusive shopping hours for the elderly and vulnerable, allowing them to have priority access to foods and other necessities as well as minimizing the risk of coronavirus transmissions.

2. Luxury goods to hand sanitizer 

LVMH has been a world leader in luxury goods since it started in 1987. But in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, and with France at the epicenter of the worst affected at the moment, they've started to use their cosmetic production lines to produce vast amounts of hand sanitizer, which is then being freely distributed to hospitals around the country. LVMH also announced they’ll be using their global distribution network to secure 40 million surgical masks for France, addressing the urgent shortage of them in the country.

3. Accelerating solutions

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has joined forces with Wellcome and Mastercard to create The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, a $125 million funded initiative to coordinate R&D efforts between the World Health Organisation, government bodies, private companies and philanthropic organizations so that solutions to the coronavirus outbreak can be developed and scaled up quickly. As Mark Suzman, CEO of the foundation, says “viruses like COVID-19 spread rapidly, but the development of vaccines and treatments to stop them moves slowly”. In short, accelerators are a necessity.

4. Collaborating towards production

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, more and more pressure is being put on the supply of critical equipment needed in hospitals. But the world is struggling to meet the demand. As part of a growing number of businesses lending a hand to the production and distribution of such equipment, General Motors has partnered with Ventec Life Systems to use GM's factories to increase the production of ventilators. Combining Ventec’s medical expertise with General Motor’s logistics, manufacturing and purchasing power, the pair has created a unified response that leans on the strengths of both companies.

5. Providing the right information

Coronavirus is the most searched term of 2020 and with that comes the need to manage and direct people to the most important information. So, with Google’s mission to “organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful”, it’s a welcoming sight to see them create a special information portal (U.S based only for now) that gives access to authoritative sources, relevant and verified Twitter accounts, and easy to navigate resources surrounding coronavirus. Information during this pandemic is both incredibly valuable but also dangerous, so Google’s response is a reassuring step in making sure people get the right information.

6.  Donating tools around the world  

As coronavirus cases level out in China, European cases are on a dramatic curve upwards. So Chinese technology giant Alibaba is helping curb the global spread of coronavirus by donating their cloud-based diagnosis tools to Europe, and with the tools being able to detect coronavirus sixty times faster than humans, this example of world-wide companionship will be life-saving for many. The Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have also just donated 6 million medical supplies to Africa.

7. Fighting misinformation

In our recent article, we said that being wary of misinformation is one of the most important things you can do during the coronavirus outbreak. Fake news can be anxiety-inducing for individuals and teams but it can also fuel hysteria and cloud systematic responses. So, Whatsapp and the World Health Organisation have come together to launch WHO Health Alert, a tool that allows you to text "hi" to +41 79 893 1892 on Whatsapp and receive verified information, statistics, updates and debunked misinformation. Everyone needs accurate, practical information, and such collaborations are a source of confidence in uncertain times.


Next read: what we can do together in response to coronavirus.