BUSINESS leaders are looking at months to years for the economy to get back to the pre-Covid level.
With the changing market due to the pandemic, businesses were advised to repurpose their operations to producing essential goods and services which are currently in high demand due to the global health crisis.
“The time when we can fully recover might be difficult to predict, but businesses will have to look at new spaces where they can repurpose to tap the market,” said Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry immediate past president Virgilio Espeleta.
He said the industry is looking at three to four years or more to get back to the pre-Covid level, depending on the availability and administration of the vaccine.
“We learn to live with the Covid situation. There’s going to be a new behavior of the market, and there’s going to be new spaces for commercial activity,” he said.
Current operational levels of businesses in Cebu are said to be between 20 and 30 percent. But Espeleta said if consumption starts to pick up, it is not going to go back immediately to pre-Covid levels.
“There’s going to be incremental increases in the assumption that same players are there in the market. Pre-Covid players are there to grab any increments of the growth of the market, so there’s going to be mergers and realignment,” he said.
The Philippine economy contracted by 16.5 percent during the second quarter of the year due to the government-imposed lockdown since March in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Steven Yu, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, said the vaccine is crucial for the economic rebound.
“If no vaccine is administered to 70 percent of the population, we are looking at seven to more months to return to 50 percent of pre-Covid level, assuming the virus strain has mellowed down on its own at that time,” he said.
Yu said the economy will have a Nike “swoosh” type of recovery.
“The vaccine is key. Recovery can be accelerated when the vaccine is effective,” he said.
Yu said when there is a vaccine that has been administered to 70 percent of the population, the industry can count six months, and the economy would be back to 80 percent of pre-Covid levels.
“We need international and domestic tourism to resume to fill up the remaining 20 percent,” he said.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Europe office said it has begun discussions with Russia to try to obtain more information about the experimental Covid-19 vaccine the country recently approved.
Last week, Russia became the first country in the world to license a coronavirus vaccine when President Vladimir Putin announced its approval. But the vaccine has not yet passed the advanced trials normally required to prove it works before being licensed, a major breach of scientific protocol. Russian officials claimed the vaccine would provide lasting immunity to Covid-19 but offered no proof.
Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency official at WHO Europe, said the agency had begun “direct discussions” with Russia and that WHO officials have been sharing “the various steps and information that’s going to be required for WHO to take assessments.”
WHO’s Europe director Dr. Hans Kluge said the agency welcomed all advances in vaccine development but that every vaccine must submit to the same clinical trials.
Russia’s vaccine has so far only been tested in a few dozen people. By comparison, vaccines entering final-stage testing in the US require studies of 30,000 people each. Two vaccine candidates already have begun those huge studies, with three more set to get underway by fall. (JOB with AP)