Welcome to The Agency Brief — a regular briefing on the main things going on in the world that agency leaders should know about.

We analyse a wide range of sources and distill it into a summary you can use in your strategic planning.

Here's your briefing for this month.

The coronavirus pandemic rumbles on.

Although it seems as though the end may finally be in sight, the pandemic is certainly not over yet.

Pandemic status scan.

Vaccines are the primary long-term defence against Covid, and there have been huge advances through the vaccination programmes, especially in developed countries, particularly in Europe and North America, and infection rates are generally moving down. As a result, many countries have begun scaling back health protection measures.

At the G7 meeting in mid-June, leaders agreed to increase vaccine donations to struggling nations (though commitments still need to be increased dramatically).

However, there are now a number of variants of concern, particularly Delta, so-called 'Delta Plus', and potentially Kappa, too, with some worrying traits (especially in transmissibility, virulence and vaccine escape), and threating the progress made.  Although the current vaccines are still effective against known variants, their effectiveness is lower against recent variants of concern. To combat this, new vaccines are being developed to act as a booster against known strains. In the mean time, existing health protections remain vital — mask wearing; social distancing; limiting number of contacts; effective ventilation; and so on — while time is given for the world's vaccination programmes to establish herd immunity levels.

National governments, despite their assurances, have focussed on dates not data too frequently, and unfortunately given a misplaced hope. It is important, therefore, to understand and communicate on that this is a long-haul, vigilance is still needed, but there is hope on the horizon.