Editor's Opinion: Covid 19 and the economy: April 2020
Please note, this is a personal opinion and based on my own observations
I have no qualifications in epidemiology and I am an engineer by background and not an
No business or medical advice is either given or implied as the situation is changing rapidly and all sorts of breakthroughs are possible.
Dear Brush Industry Professional,
It seems a long tine since some of us were together at the ABMA conference in St Petersburg. At that time we had an abundance of hand sanitiser and were getting used to novel greetings involving elbow to elbow touching and in some innovative cases ankle to ankle contact.
Since then the seriousness of the COVID 19 virus has hit home with a bang. The main changes to day to day life have been significant restrictions on movement and social distancing. Even elbow to elbow contact may be seen as a hazardous practice now we are living under the 2 metre rule.
Most countries have recognised the vital contribution of the brush industry with one or two rather silly exceptions in that for example the UK has discouraged the sale of paint and paint brushes.
We are facing a world in transition and it is currently hard to imagine how soon international travel will return with most of the world’s passenger airlines ceasing operations.
As everyone will know, Interbrush was wisely postponed to May 2022 and the FEIBP congress was postponed to September 2021
The next international gathering of the industry is now scheduled to take place in March 2021, nearly a year from the time of writing and I am sure that like me the industry will respond positively to the opportunity of meeting up socially as well as for importent business networking opportunities.
In times of physical isolation it is vital that we do all we can to stay in communication and we at Brushwork would like to help. Please write to me with suggestions as to how we can all help each other. (email@example.com).
Watching the mainstream media cover the situation can have something of an air of doom and gloom but the world has been through far worse epidemics and other troubles. The invention and adaptability of human beings is potentially limitless and as scientists develop inexpensive and reliable antibody tests a completely different picture will emerge.
One thing is certain is that come what may, the world’s economy has to be put back on the rails. Only with prosperity can a healthy society be maintained. The correlation of good healthcare with a viable and growing economy is undeniable. If shutdowns last much longer the impact on all forms of wellbeing will be incalculable. For many families the ill heath and death of loved ones due to causes other then COVID 19 has been devastating. Many people have been sent home from hospitals and appointments for treatment for ischemic diseases and cancer treatments have been delayed and in many cases these delays have cost lives. Some commentators have tried to say that it is a choice of saving lives verus saving the economy. In fact this is deeply confused thinking. Only a heathy economy can sustain a healthy population. Life is not free of risks and the world needs bold leadership to start opening up for business on an urgent basis before even more businesses go into bankruptcy. We now know that this virus is particularly dangerous to the elderly but has very low risk of death to healthy people below the age of 50 who do not have underlying health issues. If the world moves towards restarting the economy extra focus can be dedicated to helping the most vulnerable including younger people who have pre-existing conditions.
Together we are facing a global crisis that we could not have anticipated and it’s essential that we come together to support one another and think carefully before demanding more draconian controls from our governments.
Scientists have to be a more circumspect and not simply promote worst case scenarios. It is a human characteristic to be consistent and defend past statements but when new evidence emerges a little humility goes a long way. The lockdown strategy in the West seems to have come from a single team working from Imperial College London whose past record on the spread of epidemics has been abysmal and alarmist.
The team from Oxford University has suggested that a vast number of people, possibly a majority in the UK have already been infected with COVID 19 in a mild form. If these infections have created antibodies then there is a way forward without resorting to untested vaccinations which in other epidemics have been very harmful.
A team at the University of Bonn has tested a randomized sample of 1,000 residents of the town of Gangelt in the north-west of the country, one of the epicenters of the outbreak in Germany. The study found that two percent of the population currently had the virus and that 14 percent were carrying antibodies suggesting that they had already been infected.
A team from Stamford University has had results suggesting that a far greater number have already had the infection than the prevailing accepted figures justifying arguments for lock down can sustain.
Politicians have to respond to the fears of their electorates but they also need to show leadership. It seems that lockdowns are influenced by fear of short or medium term electoral consequences. An over cautious approach is rarely punished but it could lead to far greater suffering in the long run.
Brian Hall, Editor