Back to the ‘new normal’ - Arming global mobility leaders for a post-COVID19 era - Q&As with Dr Anthony Renshaw

If you missed Day Three of our EMEA Online Summit, you can catch up here
Back to the ‘new normal’ - Arming global mobility leaders for a post-COVID19 era - Q&As with Dr Anthony Renshaw

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Day Three of FEM's EMEA Online Summit began with FEM's Global Director of Content & Events speaking to Dr. Anthony Renshaw.

You can watch the video of the interview by clicking on the link here:

FEM EMEA Online Summit - Day Three 

We also collated the questions that attendees posted in the Chat function and Dr. Renshaw has kindly added his answers here:

Expert Insight Interview:
Back to the ‘new normal’ - Arming global mobility leaders for a post-COVID19 era

Q. Do you think we’re out of ‘Crisis Management’ mode yet – or are we just going back into it?

Anthony: I think for many companies we will remain on high alert for some time and must be able to mobilise our crisis teams flexibly and repeatedly as risk changes.  The key is having access to credible and practical expert advice to enable you to make decisions quickly, based on the best available evidence.

Q. What is the future of business travel? Could there be an ‘instant’ COVID test on the horizon?

Anthony: Changes to business travel are progressing at breakneck speed.  Airlines and airports are working hard to make their spaces safer and COVID compliant however huge international variation will remain.  Expect to see several pilot programmes popping up, initially between key travel routes and hubs, and expect to see rapid testing pre-departure (and in some countries upon arrival) becoming more common. 

Q. If governments buy up all the supplies of vaccines, will there be any capacity for companies to purchase their own supply?

Anthony: At present, future supply of vaccines to corporates is an unknown.  However, countries will need to ensure sufficient coverage of their own population before they allow private organisations to purchase surplus stock.  International SOS supply chain teams provide vaccines and medications to our 1000+ clinics around the world: our teams are monitoring the situation with prospective COVID-19 vaccines closely and working with several companies to prepare vaccine policies and delivery models for this eventuality.  We provided pandemic flu H1N1 vaccines to corporates back in 2009, however the nature and scale of the current pandemic will mean that planning assumptions have become far more complex.

 Q. How can we, as company leaders, find out which tests are effective for our teams?

Anthony: Our Assistance Centres and expert advisors receive a great many requests for advice on international testing options each day. The scale of scientific research on testing for COVID-19 is impressive and a myriad of tests are on the market, for use in different contexts. There are literally hundreds to choose from, some working better than others, some with very poor accuracy, some highly effective: test manufacturers tout differing performances for their test.  One of the first things we do when we advise on a testing strategy is to ask; ‘What the purpose of testing for your organisation?’  Is it for diagnostic purposes, for example because access to government-led PCR testing is poor or slow? Or is it for screening purposes? This article in Nature helps articulate a bit where the technology is going  In general, our advice would be to take reasoned clinical advice from a medical expert that understands the public health context, before purchasing any type of test.

 Q. Is it possible to evacuate people if they are in a lockdown location?

Anthony: It may be possible for specific scenarios but in general this is very tricky.  Each country has different rules and regulations and longstanding relationships with airlines, regulators and national ministries of health can be helpful in ensuring an evacuation proceeds without hitch.   Each mission is now far more complex and time-consuming than ever and we are using our in-country expertise like never before.

Q. We’re under pressure to cut costs, but we need to look after our assignees. What is your advice?

Anthony: The pandemic is redefining the definition of ‘Duty of Care’ right across the employee base and this is especially true for assignees.  For quite some time we have been speaking about the ‘Return on Prevention’ - that being able to prevent problems before they happen can significantly impact the overall cost of an assignment.  Those organisations who invest in the prevention of health and security risks associated with international assignments are not only meeting their moral and legal obligations; they commonly experience both direct and indirect cost benefits.  

Q. What is the future of business travel? Could there be an ‘instant’ Covid test on the horizon?

Anthony: It’s a fast-moving area. Several transport hubs and airlines are progressing quite rapidly to ensure safer ways of travelling. Expect fundamental shifts in the way seats are booked, the way we board, the way we pass through borders and the like.  Blockchain technologies such as the ICC AOKPass seek to facilitate movement between countries by providing a privacy-preserving, digitally authenticated, secure and portable copy of your travel health records (approved by a medical professional). COVID-19 test results and potentially, in future, vaccine status can all be incorporated.   Rapid testing is also being piloted in a number of airports. However, we don’t foresee these changes to be rolled out uniformly across the world for some time, with regional pockets for now driving this change.


Many thanks again to Dr. Antony Renshaw and International SOS

You can access all 5 days of the recorded sessions and watch them at a time that suits you by clicking on the link here: 

FEM EMEA Online Summit Catch-up 

Keep sending in your questions and comments!

Take a look at the full week's agenda here

Meet the speakers here


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