Now, the first wave seems to be under control in a number of countries in Europe. Thanks to the measures put in place, the effective reproduction number of the virus is less than one, meaning that the number of new cases is gradually decreasing. However, the virus is still circulating, and we cannot exclude the possibility of new waves in the future. We will have to live with the virus until an effective vaccine is discovered, marketed and accessible to all. The implementation of measures to reduce transmission through continued hygiene, and testing, tracing and tracking strategies are essential for health systems to contain the pandemic in the future. The cost to the economy of not implementing these measures and having to re-impose lockdowns is not only enormous, but also far greater than the cost of testing all suspected cases and their contacts.
What are some solutions for a relocation of strategic activities in Europe and France, in order to foster innovation?
The current crisis has triggered a renewed debate about supply chains and their concentration. The production of Covid-19 related goods, such as personal protective equipment for example, is concentrated in a handful of countries. Over 86% of global exports of Covid-19-related goods come from just 20 countries. The top five global exporters, which together account for 49% of trade, are Germany, the United States, Switzerland, China and Ireland.
Concentration makes supply chains more vulnerable to unexpected shocks. The issue of diversification of supply chains for medical goods is therefore important. Relocating production is not the only solution, as it would be too costly and inefficient for every country to develop production capacity that matches crisis demand and encompasses the whole value chain. An alternative, long-term solution would be to diversify sources of supply, to define upstream agreements with companies for rapid conversion of assembly lines during crises, with possible government incentives and coordination, and to build up strategic stocks (for example for personal protective equipment). At the national level, there is a need to recognize the strategic nature of the health sector and its companies. At the international level, there is a need to explore new forms of dialogue among countries, to better collaborate and share resources according to countries' needs. This co-operation must also be built around regional and local needs to best anticipate and respond quickly to sudden increases in demand.
Copyright : Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP