Pandemic Scenario Forecasting

May 14, 2020

With so many unknowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, how can any business prepare for the future? That was the topic of the recent IGA/Oliver Wyman Pandemic Forecasting Webinar we recently shared with the IGA family. 

Using insights gleaned from observable data collected from across more than 40 countries and each industry sector, Oliver Wyman created a pandemic forecasting tool to deliver scientifically based, politically unbiased scenarios for health outcomes among various stages of the pandemic. On the webinar, Oliver Wyman's Health and Life Sciences Partner and former CDC pandemic response planner Helen Leis joined IGA CEO John Ross in using that tool to explore how those outcomes would heavily influence business in the grocery sector, presenting a sobering look at what summer and fall might look like as our country experiences cyclical geographic outbreaks.

Key findings include:

  • Early social distancing measures have worked to slow the spread of the virus, but cases will continue to increase as those measures are relaxed.
  • Supply chain disruptions and higher-than-normal employee absenteeism will continue for the next 12 months or more as we cycle in and out of various containment measures before therapeutic breakthrough or widespread use of a vaccine suppresses the virus.
  • Mental health and wellbeing will be an ongoing challenge for everyone—particularly for essential workers who are under an enormous amount of stress.
  • Given the large number of asymptomatic carriers of the virus, masks are important to slow the spread and protect essential workers and the general public alike.

"For IGA retailers to make good decisions on expanding their store hours, resuming their advertising and promotions, and relaxing cleaning standards, we really need purposeful forecasts for what the future may hold, both optimistically and pessimistically," IGA CEO John Ross says. "The Oliver Wyman Pandemic Navigator provides the most accurate forecast of U.S. outcomes I have seen, and I would encourage every IGA retailer to take to the time to download presentation slides here, watch the video recording of the webinar below, and use the Oliver Wyman Pandemic Navigator to help you plan your own business scenarios based on virus transmission projections in your specific region of the country or the world."


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