When I asked people if they were surprised by how much of a worldwide impact COVID-19 had had I received a similar response from many.
Clinically, the appearance of a novel coronavirus surprised no one. The potential for this type of virus to be the source of a global pandemic has been seen in the literature for a number of years now.
Tim Mustill of Astrocyte Consulting pointed out that we may have been lulled into a false sense of security by previous outbreaks. “I wouldn’t say it’s inevitable that we’ll often see zoonotic viruses jumping into humans, but an increased frequency has been predicted by many. We’ve tended to hope that it doesn’t happen too often – and if it does, as has been the case with SARS and MERS, that it is fairly easily managed. But COVID-19 is now probably the first truly global pandemic since Spanish Flu.”
What does seem to have surprised many, though, has been the speed and depth of the impact across the world. For several people, this was being felt not just in terms of the impact of doing business and the interruption or delay of research or raising funding, but on a more direct, personal level.
“I think the general reaction around the world has been positive. Certainly, there is a real sense of cooperation and being ‘in it together’ across our sector,” Andrew Fadden from Ervaxx told me. “[However,] the speed of the departure from ‘the norm’ in everyday life has been a bit of a shock!”
What I found particularly encouraging was that, despite the shock of the personal impacts we’ve all felt, everyone I spoke to at BioTrinity was upbeat about how the life sciences, biotech and pharma sector had come together. The sense of collaboration and positivity was in the air, and it’s one of the reasons why I really enjoy meeting new and growing businesses in the field.