COVID is not a topic that we want to do the typical ”we told you so”. A recent headline though did catch my attention and I thought t was worth exploring it further. “We got the biological science right, but we didn’t get the social science right,” was the quote form Dr. Ashish Jha who is responsible for the government’s response in the US. What he was talking about was that getting the vaccines developed and available was not enough – it turns out that those vaccines only work if people actually use them and get vaccinated – in other words, Adoption. We wrote about this way back when the pandemic started and alerted our readers that Adoption of the solution (vaccines) was going to be the key
Phenomenal multiple vaccines were created in record time and given the traditionally very competitive medical and scientific communities where cooperation is unheard of, that is a huge achievement. “The sheer amount of collaboration that happened in the scientific community was unprecedented,” Jha said, adding: “That was a major reason we got vaccines and treatments, and all of that was scientists trusting each other to use [each other’s]information wisely.” Yet the same experts failed to effectively communicate with the public thus leading to lack of trust and credibility and thus very low adoption rates. We still have over a 1/3 of our population that is not fully vaccinated – that’s right, over 1/3!!
And this is why COVID is not over yet. This is why the goal of herd immunity is already lost – we’ll never get there. This is also why we keep getting hit by new variants over and over again. Because we continue to allow the virus to propagate by not getting everyone vaccinated, the virus keeps mutating and keeps evading the vaccines and now it seems to be evading immunity from have contracted COVID already. We will keep playing catch up for the immediate future and perhaps for quite a long time. The window to get a high percentage of the population vaccinated may already have passed.
And by the way, this is not just a US phenomenon – it’s global. Here’s another amazing fact: Canada is going to throw out about 13.6 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine because it couldn’t find any takers for it either at home or abroad. Just let that sink in – while the virus rages across the world and mutates into new variants everyday, there is no one who wants vaccines – NOT because they don’t have more people that need to be vaccinated but because more people don’t want to get vaccinated.
Dr. Jha continues with another interesting fact that the initial COVID guidelines were based on what we know about the flu because no one knew anything about COVID at that time – so they based it on the flu virus. And then when they had to change the guidelines as they learnt more about COVID, they lost credibility and trust and that is going to be almost impossible to regain.
You may be wondering what this has to do with Supply Chain and Category Management. First, 15% of China’s economy (higher than it was recently) is offline because of COVID and if you’re not feeling the impact of that yet, you will soon. I don’t have to convince you the current record inflation has much to do with lack of supply in face of huge demand. Even more important though is to remind you about Adoption (one more time!!). The best Category Strategy is of no use unless you ensure Adoption. The best solution from the project you are working on is of no use unless you focus on Adoption. It’s a life and death issue – just ask Dr. Jha!!!