We greatly underestimate the dangers of the new COVID strains due to cognitive biases such as normalcy bias, hyperbolic discounting, and planning fallacy. We need to change our plans drastically to adapt to the new reality. That’s the key take-away message of this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, which answers the question: should you be worried about the new COVID strains?
Video: “Should You Be Worried About the New COVID Strains?”
Podcast: “Should You Be Worried About the New COVID Strains?”
Links Mentioned in Videocast and Podcast
- Here’s the article: Should You Be Worried About the New COVID Strains?
- The book Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic is available here
- You are welcome to register for the free Wise Decision Maker Course
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show where we help you make the wisest and most profitable decisions. What I’d like to talk about today is the new COVID strains. You probably saw them in the news, the new strains that are arriving in the US and around the globe that originated in the UK, South Africa and elsewhere, including new variants that are discovered in Denmark, actually, the US. So there’s a lot of new strains out there. And you’ve seen the news about this. And you’re wondering, should you be worried? Is this something of concern? Or is this not something to really be worried about? Is this just something that the media headlines are making a big deal out of? Well, there are a couple of concerns that you should be focused about. One is are these strains vulnerable to the new vaccines that we have developed whether the Pfizer vaccine, the maternal vaccine, Johnson and Johnson that’s coming along this Rosana vaccine? So all of these vaccines and of course, the Russian and Chinese vaccines, then are these new strains more deadly? And finally, are these new strains more infectious? So these are the three concerns, and the authorities have really been focusing on the deadliness and the vaccination aspects of things. They’ve been saying, hey, there’s no cause for alarm. The overwhelming majority of the authorities are saying, you know, there’s some cause for concern but not cause for alarm. These new strains appear to be mostly vulnerable to our vaccines may be a little bit less vulnerable, especially South Africa string seems to be maybe maybe 20 to 30% less vulnerable to our vaccines, but it’s still the vaccines are overwhelmingly going to take care of them and they seem to not be that much more deadly. So okay, there is no cause for real alarm, however, much, much more concerning is the infectiousness, there. infectiousness, if they are more infectious, which it seems like they are, it will actually cause much, much more problems many, many more deaths than if they are more deadly, because the disease spreads more quickly, and that will overwhelm hospitals. So let’s talk about the infectiousness because that seems to be something that really the authorities and the media are not paying nearly enough attention to. And that’s getting hidden, just like in the early stages of the pandemic, the huge huge potential for explosion of COVID due to its really high infectiousness wasn’t getting nearly enough attention despite warnings by myself and other future proofing and risk management experts were talking about this February, March. And this wasn’t getting attention. This is a big problem. We slept and walked into the pandemic. And I’m really worried we’re sleepwalking into a huge surge with Fox, with nothing nearly enough attention to the potential of these new strains for huge huge infectiousness. So let’s talk about infectiousness . What is the problem there? Well, we know the UK strain is anywhere from 56 to 70% more infectious, that’s what the research shows. And that’s what a huge spike in the UK bears out. We have a huge spike in cases there. Each individual therefore infects 56 to 70% more people that’s what the higher infectiousness means. South Africa strain means about the same thing is apparently even more infectious. Although we don’t know the numbers. It was initially found in October, in South Africa. And it caused over 80% of new COVID deaths, COVID cases by the end of December, and of course, new COVID deaths as well. So that is a pretty quick take over that’s about a two month period, we saw about the same period take over in the UK, about six to eight weeks before the new COVID strain became predominant in southeast England, which is the London area major metropolitan area of England. So this is something to really be concerned about. Actually, recently, there was a discovery of a new US based variant in Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, where I am right now by Ohio State University. And what they discovered was that it was a variant that had some similarities, some similar mutations to the UK variant. And it was quite a bit more infectious than the previous COVID variant. And they took over in the Columbus Ohio area, which is a metropolitan area of about a million people within three weeks. So pretty quick to take over. And of course if it’s more infectious, it causes more cases and therefore more deaths. So this is something that we have to realize we are making bad mistakes around these topics. We’re not really paying nearly enough attention to slow moving train wrecks like huge infectiousness, increase in potential for increase and clear increase in these new strains. I mean, if you look at the UK in late December, we have numbers for December, for looking from early December to late December. We saw cases double in the UK and in South Africa like cases, doubling It’s huge, huge increase from December 10 in the UK 240 cases per day to over four to 506 cases per day on December 24. In the UK, it went from 82 cases per day on December 10, to something like 192 cases per day on December 24. That’s a huge increase in cases. And there’s a strong potential for that same thing happening in the US, and around the world anywhere, these new strains are becoming predominant. And we see them happening already in Denmark, Ireland, and Brazil and other areas. But we tend to ignore these slow moving train wrecks, even though we can clearly see the implications of the strains of these strains and the trends lines from the mathematical statistical trend lines from them, because of dangerous judgment errors called cognitive biases. Specifically, I want to talk about three cognitive biases that are most problematic for us in addressing the new strains and the same problems that we had in addressing the pandemic in the first place. hyperbolic discounting normalcy bias and planning fellas, these are the three biggest ones hyperbolic discounting, what’s that about? Well, we tend to ignore the long term way too much. We focus on the short term, what’s actually going to happen right now. And we ignore the long term implications of looking at the future. And just drawing a line from how to the future seeing the clear long term implications. So we underestimate the eventual impacts of very, very clear trends, such as this new, more infectious strain in the UK, south from the UK, South Africa, and actually originating now in the US as well. So this is a really bad tendency. Another problem is called the normalcy bias, we think that the future will be much like to date, we don’t expect major changes, we feel our feelings, our current reaction is to feel that the same number of cases that we have right now will be the same, approximately the same number of cases that we have in the future. And we don’t realize that these new strains will make that absolutely not the case. However, that’s just not how we feel. And we don’t accept this information. Even though it’s very clear, even though it’s happened in other well developed countries, we don’t accept this information. And we reject it, it’s very tempting for you to reject this information that I’m sharing with you right now, because it’s kind of unbelievable, hard to imagine that cases will double every two weeks. But that’s what happened in the UK. That’s what happened in South Africa. That’s what is happening in Ireland and Denmark, it will happen here in the US and elsewhere around the globe, where the new cases predominate. And this is something that you need to anticipate and address. we underestimate the seriousness of these disruptions, how bad it will be for us, so their likelihood and their impact. And that’s the normalcy bias. And finally, the planning fallacy. So planning fallacy has to do with, like it says, our plans, we feel that if we make a plan, the future will go according to plan. So let’s say we make a plan for dealing with COVID. And we feel okay, that’s what will happen in the future, we follow past experiences, the future will be normal. And we are not able to really easily change our minds based on clear new evidence and change our plans based on clear new evidence, we’re not ready to prepare for and respond to major threats, major risks, major problems, like the new strains. So the hyperbolic discounting the normalcy bias, and the planning fallacy are the biggest problems for us in dealing with these new strains. Now, what can we expect here? So we’ve been talking about stuff here in the US, so sudden, Columbus, Ohio to cover in three weeks? What can we expect in the rest of the United States? Well, once they become predominant, just like in the UK, in South Africa, we can expect that with the same policies now, nothing changed in the UK and South Africa. They didn’t have any major policy changes, they just got the new strains. And so seeing there were no major weather changes, just these new strains, nothing changed. So if we don’t do anything, then the number of cases will double just like it did in the UK and South Africa every two weeks. That’s what happened there. That’s what will happen here. So two to three months after the strains were discovered around six to eight weeks in the southeast of England, around to two ish months in South Africa. That’s what happened, major case, surgeon cluding, up to doubling including doubling more than doubling actually in South Africa every two weeks. So we can expect the same thing in areas where the new strains they cover if we don’t do anything, so by April 2021, they were discovered here, but in December, late December, according to experts, they probably got here by mid November, partially because the US has a much worse tracking system for new strains than the UK which was able to catch them much earlier. So got here by mid November, likely hundreds probably 1000s of cases by now. So we can expect them to take over by March April 2021. So that’s what will happen. And the implications are really bad and really horrendous. And we’re not prepared at all to deal with implications. This is a sad, sad, tragic situation. But we’re not prepared. And we’re not taking steps to be prepared looking at what’s happening in the political spectrum and the business spectrum. So we had compared to what was happening in the UK in South Africa, in December, because we have the numbers for that. We had a similar situation from December 10 to December 24, there were just over 200,000 cases per day in the US. And of course, there will be a Christmas spike and the New Year spike. And we see that already happening right now, where now by mid late January, the cases are topic 250,000 per day on Sundays. So that’s the Christmas spike. That’s the New Year spike where people didn’t listen to public health guidelines and went and celebrated and traveled. Very sad. But that’s what’s happened. So what will happen when these cases start doubling 400, so going from 200,000, then to 400,000 cases per day in two weeks, and then 800 cases per day for weeks, you’re not doubling from the 200,000, you’re doubling from the new number 400,000. And then 1600 cases, is 1600 100,000 cases in six weeks. So going from 400,000 to 800,000 800,000 to 16 100,000, which is 1.6 million in six weeks. That’s pretty terrible numbers, isn’t it? Yeah, that’s pretty depressing. And that’s, I mean, I, I feel really bad about this. I’m very sad, I’m very frustrated, you can probably hear this in my voice. But we’re not paying attention to this very clear trend lines will have extensive shortages. Once that happens, because of panic buying naturally, panic buying will happen. Of course supply chain disruptions, people more and more people will be sick. And there are lots of sick employees. So that’ll be bad. Now, even worse, is the overwhelm of the medical systems. I mean, a number of states, California, Texas, Alabama, others, hospitals are already way overloaded, turning away patients, making people wait for a long time until somebody dies or leaves the hospital for a sick bed. This is really bad. What will happen when their patient load doubles in two weeks, and then quadruples in four weeks, and then and then so on and so on and so on. How horrible will that be? I mean, our medical system is already strained right now, it will be overwhelmed, it will break it, you know, this terrible outbreak in March in New York City. And my parents, I am from New York City and my parents still live there. My dad got COVID. Actually, he barely made it. So I’m very glad that he recovered. He’s one of the lone callers, he still has lung serious lung issues from COVID, his lung scarring and so on. So that was really bad. But that will seem like a nice summer drizzle compared to the tsunami that’s threatening us in April of this year. So this is really, really, really bad. Now, you might wonder, Well, someone do something about this. I mean, shouldn’t the government step in when someone does something about this? Unfortunately, now, this doesn’t look likely. So we have the case bump right now from Christmas and New Year, which is already hiding the impact of these higher infectious I mean, in Columbus, Ohio, as I mentioned, the new strain that’s originating the US and it’s pretty similar to the UK variant to COVID pretty quickly from the in December to early January. But that was hidden by the Christmas and New Year bump. And so the authorities haven’t really been paying attention to this, which is very sad and tragic. Health officials are right now focused on vaccines. So they’re focused on the vaccine saying the new strains are vulnerable to the vaccines. That’s great. But we have such a slow vaccine rollout, very slow going really, really slowly, much slower than promised by the authorities and promised by the federal government. So we can anticipate no more than 25% of Americans being vaccinated by April. And that would be great if that happens. 25% I’d love to see 25% you know, 100 million people vaccinated by April, that would be great. But you know, I, I’m a little skeptical it will happen. I really hope it does. So in addition, you can think about Okay, vaccination, so vaccination is one thing, but what about lockdowns? lockdowns, help Well, look at what’s happening. We already have the Christmas bomb. The holiday bomb cases went up from 200,000 to 250,000 per day. Has governors instituted lockdowns from December to January now they have not instituted any more lockdowns California had a lockdown in December didn’t do have anything more of a lockdown. In fact, some states are opening up and we have football games and other games where with mass the fan presence in the stadiums, so states are opening up instead of locking down this is Stupid This is dumb. But this is exactly what’s happening. And this is what will keep happening. Unfortunately, they will not see what’s happening. They’re reluctant to pause lockdowns there. So governors are the ones who are responsible for it. But there’s so much politicization, so much protests, and so much economic pain, understandable. But they’re reluctant to impulse, even smart targeted lockdowns, closing down bars, closing down the restaurant suit, you really should not do any indoor dining. Right now, in the pandemic, this is ridiculous. You should also not sit in igloos, which are essentially carrying indoor dining outside. Now you really need to close those down. But they’re not doing that. So you’re seeing many people who are not even complying with restrictions that are there in California, where bars are indeed and restaurants are indeed closed down. But many people aren’t complying with these restrictions in bar owners, restaurant owners and people who are going to them. It’s sad, it’s ridiculous, but that’s what’s happening. So you need to do something. If you can’t rely on the government in this situation, you need to take action, both as a private citizen and as your member of your household and to the extent that you have a leadership role in your organization, as a leader. So private citizen, what can you do as a private citizen for your household, you want to ensure supplies of consumables, so make sure to get that there will be panic buying, you can anticipate that in March, April, you want to get ahead of that, I recommend that you don’t empty the store shelves for others go to online sources get things from online sources, mass distribution will be cheaper for you to buy in bulk, and you won’t empty store shelves for others. You want to minimize risky activities that involve things like traveling. Traveling is pretty risky, both to deter COVID. And just to various kinds of injuries you can get while traveling. Various winter activities like skiing aren’t good at all right now, you don’t want to go to hospital while hospitals are overloaded. And you might catch COVID. And you also don’t want to do things like major household repairs. So please don’t do that. Get professionals to do that, if they are really needed. But don’t use power tools. If you can help it, you want to implement a strict lockdown for your household right now. I was surprised to find out in Late Middle Age January, that the new US variant that was already present was dominant in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. And I’m very glad that once I learned about the new strains and late December, that my wife and I and the CO principal of she’s the Agnes Vishnevkin, the CO principal of disaster avoidance experts, my training consulting and coaching company, on future proofing, we instituted a strict lockdown. So I’m very glad that we did that because it would have been quite a bit more likely to catch COVID because the new strains have already become predominant. So we’re not going out to even do minor shopping, ordering in getting delivery. So really staying safe. If possible. You want to insist on working from home, and really push your boss if and to allow you to work from home. If not consider a transition career, which will allow you in a couple of months where the surge will become really bad to work from home. Encourage friends and family to protect themselves. Give them this information, forward them this podcast this video, let them know about the situation, encourage them to take the steps they need to protect themselves. Be ready to deal with poor decisions made by other people. This is really important to other folks all around you, your neighbors, friends, colleagues, peers will make poor decisions, you want to be prepared to deal with that. Whatever steps you need to take. And finally really think psychologically, to prepare psychologically we’ll have the darkest days of COVID are truly ahead of us. We’ll get things much worse before they get better with mass vaccination available by late summer, which will address the new strains. But in the mid to late spring, you know, second to third quarter of 2021 it will be really bad. So you want to prepare yourself psychologically for the trauma of mastiffs. really prepare yourself, prepare yourself psychologically, it will get bad you want to be ready. Then as leaders, to the extent that you have a leadership role in your organization, it’s your responsibility to help your team prepare, that includes preparing for themselves as members of the household. So make sure that they are not unable to perform their job functions, because the household isn’t prepared. So given this information for them this podcast, let them know that this is what’s happening right now and get a team meeting, tell them to prepare for this urgently. Then encourage your team to take advantage of any mental health resources you offer. I hope you’re for some mental health resources as part of the organization. So encourage them right now to take those steps and get themselves ready. Prepare for higher rates of COVID and burnout in your team so that you can talk to your HR department and dissipate that definitely some people get COVID more people burn out because the situation will be really bad in this country. They’ll be distracted, it’ll be bad. Get some cross training in place, whatever policies you need, of course, get your team to work from home as much as possible right now, get them to incident strict pandemic lockdown, and really get them to work from home. You know, your state may be opening up, your state may be doing things that don’t follow that official policy guidelines, go for strict pandemic lockdown, you want to revisit your business continuity plans to prepare for the major surges, major disruptions in the second and third quarter of this year. That includes supply chain disruptions. That includes disruptions to your stakeholders, to your vendors, to your clients, all sorts of disruptions. And finally, if you take these steps, you’ll get into a really great competitive position. So be prepared to take advantage of lapses by your competitors who are going to stumble, because they’re not prepared for this really bad last search, and you can seize market share from them. So be prepared and ready for that. Alright, so this is what you should be doing about these new COVID strains. And indeed, you should really be worried because their much higher infectiousness will be devastating for this country and the globe. Alright, well, I hope you’ve benefited, if not enjoyed this pretty depressing episode of the wise decision maker show. But the goal is to help you make the wisest decisions, even in a situation that is as bad as this one, where you have to choose the least of all evils. So please choose the least of all evils and make some wise decisions about these new strains. There’s a blog with much more information about this in the show notes, please check out the blog. Please click like on the show if you’ve liked it. And please leave your comments and reviews. We’d love to hear from you. read your comments. And your reviews are incredibly useful for us in order to improve the content and encourage other folks to listen to this, talking about other folks who want to let them know about these new strains. So make sure to forward them this podcast, this video, whichever you’re watching it on, or listening to it, we have both a videocast version and a podcast version, some audio and video version. So you can check those out. There’s gonna be in the show notes. The video version will have the podcast, the audio cast, the audio cast will have the video cast version, check those out and follow us on whatever channel you’re listening to this, you’re watching this YouTube, iTunes spreaker or whatever. Now, there’s going to be much more information about this topic in my book called resilience, adapt and plan for the new abnormal of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and there’s going to be a link to it in the show notes. So this book is a disaster avoidance experts.com forward slash adapt. So if you want to know how to be ready for the last stage and for the post COVID recovery, get the book. And in general, if you want to improve your ability to make the wisest, most profitable decisions, check out my other book linked in the show notes. Never go with your gut. How pioneering leaders make the wisest decisions and avoid business disasters. Disaster avoidance experts have come forward slash never good. Also check out a free resource the wise decision maker course free eight video based modules on making the wisest decisions. And as part of that the first module is an assessment to help you learn about what are the most dangerous judgment errors in your workplace these cognitive biases so check that out at disaster avoidance experts comm forward slash subscribe that’s all free. And of course it’s linked in the show notes. Alright everyone, I hope you’ve valued and benefited if not enjoyed listening to this pretty sad information about these new COVID strains and they hope this episode helps you make the wisest and most profitable decisions. Till next time, my friends
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an internationally-renowned thought leader in future-proofing and addressing cognitive biases. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-proofing consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, which specializes in helping forward-looking leaders avoid dangerous threats and missed opportunities. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020), and Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Changemakers Books, 2020). He has over 550 articles and 450 interviews in USA Today, Inc. Magazine, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, Fortune, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Fast Company, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training on change management, decision making, and risk management strategy. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, including 7 as a professor at Ohio State University. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, LinkedIn, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.