A decade ago, in March 2010, the UK government launched the second version of the National Risk Register. The top risk was ‘Pandemic Human Disease’ — higher in terms of combined likelihood and impact than any form of terrorist attack, severe weather, or major accident. This remained the case in the 2017 edition of the National Risk Register (the last time the register was updated.)

In late December, 2019, and early January, 2020, news reports began to cover a novel coronavirus in Hubei province in China. In mid-January China announced an alarming rise in both cases and deaths, and soon after put the 11 million citizens of Wuhan city into lockdown, the first clear sign that a global pandemic was highly likely.

On 22nd January 2020 it was clear that the world faced a high risk of pandemic. Since then, businesses have had to face an apparently chaotic situation — yet lockdowns were a predictable part of a pandemic response, as was panic buying, the initial freeze of clients in the headlights in March/April, and so on.

Planning for 2021

With almost a year's experience of the COVID-19 pandemic in hand, we're now conducting the research and analysis necessary to make business plans for 2021, and publishing it for Agency Radar members.

  • How will the pandemic affect your agency in 2021?
  • What impact will it have on your team, your clients, your community?
  • What can you do to prepare?

This Board Brief on coronavirus in 2021 is a thorough and multifaceted assessment that looks ahead to the likely developments in the pandemic and the response to it next year. The report examines a wide range of factors that will affect the business climate, focusing particularly on the agency context, with analysis focussed on both the likelihood and impact in each dimension.

  • What is the current state of the pandemic and the response?
  • What medical progress has been made? What progress can be expected in 2021?
  • What do we know now about immunity to COVID-19? What can we expect from vaccines in the year ahead?
  • What health protection measures are best in responding to coronavirus?
  • What impact can we expect on the economy generally, and on the business climate more specifically?
  • What support is likely for business in 2021?

The report covers specific impacts on agency clients and agency staff.

The brief contains a number of recommendations throughout and summarises them in a detailed conclusion, together with discussion points for agency boards to consider.