Thanks to the news about the Pfizer vaccine, business owners across the globe are starting to perk up. Everyone is hopeful that the mass vaccination programs will bring an end to the COVID-19 crisis. However, it is naive to expect the vaccine to save the day at once. Experts’ opinions on when we should expect full economic recovery are divided.
When Can We Expect Economic Recovery?
An optimistic view
Many analysts believe that vaccine availability will fast-track the recovery of global businesses, even in the industries affected the most, such as hospitality, entertainment, and retail. For example, the U.S. gambling industry experts are hopeful that Las Vegas (hit by the lockdown the hardest because of the disproportionate number of people employed in hospitality) will see the light at the end of the tunnel in half a year.
According to Stephen Miller, the director of the Las Vegas Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), Las Vegas’ hospitality will start recovering in summer 2021. If this is indeed the case, we can expect a full recovery in early 2022.
A not-such-an-optimistic view
However, not everyone is confident that the COVID-19 crisis will end so soon. For the vaccine to truly work and grant protection, at least two-thirds of the population need a shot. Given the healthcare crisis in the U.S., this is not going to happen overnight.
A large portion of Americans do not have the health coverage that would make vaccination available to them. According to the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, there will not be enough vaccines to cover the world’s population until 2024. If the required three-third coverage is not achieved soon enough, there is little hope for the most affected industry to recover earlier than in 2023.
What Are the Barriers?
Not all countries are equally privileged
The U.S., U.K., Canada, European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan have the means to buy the Pfitzer vaccine for a sufficient part of the population. Unfortunately, this is not the case for poorer governments, which will gain access to vaccines much later. Because of this, travel restrictions will likely persist, and some industries (most prominently airlines and tourism in general) will not return to their pre-COVID revenues for a long time.
Many people are skeptical about the vaccine
Not all governments were equally effective in their COVID-19 response. Understandably, many people do not seem to trust their officials and are somewhat wary about the vaccine. Only 48% of North Americans and 36% of Western Europeans are fully convinced that vaccines are safe and necessary.
To compare, the global average is 61%. The lack of trust people have in the vaccine can become a significant barrier on the way to the required level of vaccination and delay global economic recovery.
What Can Businesses Do to Help?
Employers have the power to convince their employees that vaccination is necessary. According to the World Economic Forum, 61.4% of workers said they would follow their employer’s advice to be vaccinated. Therefore, businesses are responsible for helping the government to assure people of the vaccine’s safety. Perhaps, employers can increase the level of trust Americans have in the vaccine.
Some major corporations, for example, Ford Motor Co, are buying the vaccine to have employees vaccinated. Others, such as Moderna, are creating their own vaccines and offering voluntary vaccination. Obviously, not all companies can afford such a move, but if they can, this would help reach the required immunization rates sooner.
Keep safety restrictions in place
However, educating and vaccinating employees is not enough. First, there will always be skeptics. Also, not all companies have the means to buy or develop vaccines. Until at least two-thirds of the population is vaccinated, businesses have to continue enforcing social distancing protocols and the mask regime. Hopefully, we will get to see each other’s smiles in a year or so.
Interesting related article: “What is Economic Activity?”