BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
Healix International/HX Global's Dr Adrian Hyzler talks:
Adrian Hyzler, chief medical officer at Healix International/HX Global, looks
ahead to how the world – and corporate travel – could be shaping up 12 months
BTN Europe: What
do you think the world will look like in a year with respect to COVID-19?
Dr Hyzler: A
year from now the world will have re-opened in varying degrees. Restaurants and
theatres will be open again but likely with diminished capacity. Sports may be
played with smaller audiences, and we may see people having their temperature
taken as they enter arenas.
places will need to be very stringent in their commitment to disinfecting
frequently and thoroughly. Offices may have a rotating schedule of remote work
to reduce the number of people in enclosed spaces.
may be “point of contact” rapid diagnostic testing prior to entry to healthcare
facilities, including nursing homes and other institutions where distancing is
problematic – some companies may also choose to adopt this approach. This depends
on accurate, affordable and simple-to-use test kits being mass produced.
may limit the number of people in meetings or depend more on virtual meeting
tools. In turn, we may see less traffic, fewer motor vehicle accidents and less
of care will become more important than ever as organisations will need to
provide their employees with critical resources to stay well both physically
and mentally in the workplace and also where travel is concerned.
BTN Europe: How will airlines and hotels
get to grips with social distancing measures, and will these still be in place
a year from now?
Dr Hyzler: While
the world will re-open gradually in the months to come, social distancing will
play a continued role to some degree.
The travel industry has the toughest job in getting their
businesses back up and running [in this environment]. Airlines may only allow
one passenger at a time to get up inflight, cut out the in-flight meal, leave
middle seats empty and run half-filled planes.
But will there be the appetite for travel if there is a mandatory
14-day quarantine at either end, or even both ends? The other question is,
how long can the airline industry afford to run half-filled planes?
think the ultimate solution to getting back to full occupancy is by performing
point-of-care testing at the airport prior to departure. Eventually, there
will be a rapid diagnostic test for the antigen that is affordable, quick,
simple to use and accurate.
is research going on into a new swab that will allow the sample to be taken
from just inside the nostril so that anyone can do it. That way confidence
in a safe journey can be established, by excluding anyone who tests positive
for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, even if asymptomatic. All crew will also be tested
before every flight.
hotel industry will have less difficulty with maintaining
social distancing but will need to make changes in their check-in process,
their dining facilities, and the room-cleaning service. I envisage this going
on for at least a year, as I do not expect that any potential vaccine programme
will be up and running by then, and certainly not with the penetration
BTN Europe: How will companies deal with employee
resistance to business travel?
Dr Hyzler: A lot
of business travellers will be anxious about getting back on planes for
business trips. Measures [like rapid diagnostic testing] may help to restore
confidence in the travel industry, but there will still be people unwilling to
travel until a safe and efficacious vaccine is available.
will need to listen to the concerns of employees and tailor business
requirements accordingly. There will be a greater drive, I suspect, toward
teleconferencing meetings until travel gets back to ‘normal’.
BTN Europe: What
are the chances of effective treatments or maybe even a vaccine being ready in
Dr Hyzler: Despite
the global collaboration between scientists, institutions and governments, we
may well still be searching for an effective vaccine in a year. Even when
vaccines reach the final lap in the race for validation, there will be problems
with the efficacy of the vaccines and subsequent difficulties in scaling up to
the quantities that are needed across the world.
all likelihood, there will be several vaccine candidates that are eventually
licensed around the world, and they will take their place alongside the annual
seasonal influenza immunisation.
though perhaps able to reduce the severity of the disease if taken early in the
course of the illness, is unlikely to completely eradicate Covid-19. More
potent drugs to treat severe disease may reduce the case fatality rate, but
just as seasonal influenza still results in between 400,000 and 600,000 deaths
each year – despite treatment and a customised vaccine – it is unlikely that Covid-19,
with its multi-organ involvement, will be cured or eradicated.