COVID-19 Daily Summary – March 23, 2020: Cost and Budget Take Center Stage

Author(s): Carmi Levy

Time to prioritize cost cutting

As the economic impacts of the current pandemic continue to deepen, expect to come under growing pressure to review your cost structure and tighten controls wherever possible.

Info-Tech’s COVID-19 Budget and Cost Management Center has everything you need to develop an optimized approach to managing IT budgets and costs during this global crisis. It includes focused guidance on maximizing business engagement, adjusting service levels, and positioning the organization to recover from a recession.

We’ve loaded it up with dozens of highly detailed assets, including blueprints, tools, and templates, that you can immediately start using to prioritize your initiatives, build your action plan, and start communicating with stakeholders. Our included research covers a wide range of areas, including:

  • 11 Workforce Optimization Strategies
  • 12 Asset Optimization Strategies
  • 10 Vendor Management Strategies
  • 10 Project Prioritization Strategies

We’re also keeping a watchful eye on HR-centric impacts. As the economic impacts of the current pandemic continue to deepen – including record-breaking market volatility and significant disruptions to revenues – expect to come under growing pressure to rationalize your workforce to prepare for whatever comes next. The unprecedented uncertainty means talent decisions are more difficult than ever.

We’ve published an important piece of HR research from McLean & Company, Streamline Your Workforce During a Pandemic, to help you make the right decisions on labor costs and staffing – and optimally position the organization to navigate the crisis.

We’ve added both of these critically important resources to our COVID-19 Resource Center and invite you to keep revisiting it as we continue to publish the latest research from our analysts.

Talk to an Analyst

When they aren’t writing pandemic-centric research, our analysts are on the phone with our members, answering any and all questions they have and helping them both make plans and turn them into action. Call now to get the conversation going.

Today’s theme: Change and transformation

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly. – Richard Bach

Recent milestones

  • Stocks continue to slide. The US Federal Reserve announces unprecedented intervention measures designed to stave off economic collapse, but investors remain spooked, with global stocks and US futures plunging yet again. Dow Futures once again hit maximum “limit down” thresholds, triggering a 15-minute trading halt. Markets in Asia, Europe, and Australia record similar losses. Global markets have now erased all gains recorded since the start of 2017.
  • Layoffs accelerate. General Electric’s GE Aviation unit lays off 10% of its US workforce. Air Canada cuts 5,100 cabin crew – about half of its roster – after reducing its flight schedule through April by 80%. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees estimates approximately 120,000 film crew, technician, and artisan positions have been eliminated worldwide. Cirque du Soleil lays off 4,679 people – or 95% of its staff. Even hotel properties owned by President Donald Trump are affected, with workers in Washington, New York, and Las Vegas receiving layoff notices. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asks small businesses to hold onto staff – or hire back those they may have already laid off.
  • Olympic uncertainty expands. Canada and Australia announce they won’t send their athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if the games are held as scheduled from July 24 to August 9. The moves comes as the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government launch a month-long consultation to consider other “scenarios,” including possible postponement to 2021.
  • India tightens lockdowns. 750 million people across 75 districts are placed under strict movement, work, and travel restrictions. Public transportation is suspended, and all offices, stores, factories, and places of worship are ordered closed.
  • South Korea turns the corner. The country confirms 64 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the national total to 8,961. It’s the lowest daily total in the country since February 29.
  • Key takeaway: The economic ripple effect shows no signs of slowing down, meaning now is the time to look hard at IT budgets and work in partnership with business and other stakeholders to adjust cost structures to weather the storm.

Virus 101: The race is on, Part 1 – Drug treatments

  • There are two promising drugs being actively investigated for the treatment of COVID-19.
  • One drug is called remdesivir, developed and manufactured by Gilead Sciences. Remdesivir has been shown in vitro to have potent and broad-spectrum antiviral activity against numerous coronaviruses including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and other contemporary human CoVs (multiple strains that can cause the common cold). Remdesivir is a nucleotide analog and is believed to interfere with viral RNA synthesis, an activity required to create more viruses. By preventing the formation of new virions, the drug in theory reduces the amount of viral titre in the individual, and therefore, stops the infection cycle.
  • The other drug is a widely used anti-malarial drug called chloroquine. Chloroquine has been around for more than 70 years and is looking to be a cheaper option for COVID-19 treatment. The drug appears to interfere with the virus-host cell fusion stage, thereby blocking virus entry into the host cell. A study using SARS-CoV virus also found chloroquine to have antiviral activity in both pre- and post-infection conditions in cell culture.
  • Bottom line: In the absence of working and available vaccines against the COVID-19 virus, drugs that have been shown to be effective against other coronaviruses are now in clinical trials for patients infected with the novel coronavirus. The race is on to ensure these drug treatments are safe and effective in a greater population of humans.

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