What can be learned from the battle so far against Covid-19?

Pandemics and epidemics have caused major upheavals down the centuries. The Black Death in the mid-14th century, by wiping out at least a third of Europe’s population, ushered in the end of feudalism. Coronavirus, thankfully, is not in the same league. Nevertheless, it has already wrought profound changes in the way we live and work.

Coronavirus rings in the changes

The financial support that governments in most advanced economies have made available during the crisis is unprecedented. Still, the economic damage has been severe. Taking the example of the UK, we show in charts what the high-level impact of Covid-19 has been on jobs, incomes and businesses and how mobility, air travel and electricity consumption patterns have changed. We look at the fallout in two industries we know well, telecoms and water, and analyse property data to see what working from home has been doing to London property prices. Answer: people are heading for the leafy suburbs.

Drawing on lessons

What can be learned from the battle so far against Covid-19? Our strategy team has updated its business-planning framework with a continued emphasis on the need for firms to be clear about what has changed, whether the changes will last and which are the ones that matter most. For policymakers, we argue that near-time data such as VAT receipts and city centre footfall provides valuable insights into social and economic trends that can be harnessed to inform not only the handling of the pandemic but also other important initiatives such as levelling up and decarbonisation. We also discuss whether waiving patent protection would speed up the global roll-out of Covid-19 jabs. It might help, we reckon, but it will not remove the regulatory and political barriers that are impeding vaccine distribution.


Laura Petschnig.jpg
Vaccines against COVID-19 have been developed in record time and are being rolled out. But it remains unclear how long it will take to emerge, blinking, from the dark and what life will look like once we do
Laura Petschnig
Annabelle Ong.jpg
COVID-19 is likely to leave a lasting mark on everything from shopping routines to children’s educational attainment. The water industry is no exception. The extent of the longer-term repercussions for the sector will depend in part on whether new habits persist once the pandemic is over.
Annabelle Ong
Associate Director
Andrew Leicester.jpg
Government is embarking on significant initiatives, such as levelling up and reforming social care, as well as striving to ‘build back better’ post-COVID. Incorporating near-time data in the policy cycle will lead to significant benefits for citizens and increase overall welfare.
Andrew Leicester
Associate Director

In numbers


doses of the vaccine secured by developed countries (early 2021)


year-over-year fall in property prices (London)


approx fall in GDP in Germany (IMF estimate for 2020)

Team Thoughts

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