Medical products sector to benefit from Covid-19

MANAMA: E-Commerce, modern food retail, medical appliances, pharmaceutical products and raw materials and wholesale trade in medical products are some of the industries that are set to benefit from Covid-19 with an expected increase in revenue, a Bahrain-based technology expert has said.

Talking to the GDN following the release yesterday of the World Economic Forum’s report, ‘Covid-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and Its Implication’, Artificial Intelligence Society president Dr Jassim Haji said there will be opportunities for virtual conferences to replace physical conferences and exhibitions, further damaging the travel and tourism industry.

“Conference producers are attempting to bring expo floors and networking to virtual life, as well,” he said.

The expert was listing some of the positives in the midst of the gloomy forecast in the report, which said economic distress and social discontent will rise over the next 18 months unless world leaders, businesses and policy-makers work together to manage the fallout of the pandemic.

Dr Haji, with a long career in the aviation sector, said the sector will suffer greatly for the next 12-18 months as restrictions on travel continue and people choose to avoid all but essential travel.

“The impact will not only affect aviation, but also extend to catering, duty free supply, taxis, hotels, tourism, events, conferences, exhibitions and the entire hospitality sector,” he added.

The WEF report, produced in partnership with Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, taps into the views of nearly 350 senior risk professionals who were asked to look at the next 18 months and rank their biggest concerns in terms of likelihood and impact for the world and for business.

The immediate economic fallout from Covid-19 dominates companies’ risks perceptions.

These range from a prolonged recession to the weakening fiscal position of major economies, tighter restrictions on the cross-border movement of goods and people, and the collapse of a major emerging market.

Looking back at the impact of the pandemic so far, Dr Haji said in China, where the coronavirus first appeared, industrial production, sales and investment all fell in the first three months of the year, compared with the same period in 2019.

In terms of technology transformation, he said for the majority of people who have been cooped up in homes for more than two months, reality is beginning to bite.

“There are only so many Netflix series you can watch consecutively, so many movies you can start and stop and so many video games you can replay before the torpid gloom descends.”

The expert sees a change of pace in the offing.

“Tech companies are hoping this change will come in the form of virtual reality headsets, with some analysts saying the stay-at-home orders could finally be the Hail Mary pass they’ve been waiting for. The truly immersive virtual reality experience transports people to other places – both reality-based and simulated. You can take walking tours of your favourite cities and visit national parks and cultural landmarks,” said Dr Haji.

The WEF report also has a note of cautious optimism.

It says as economies restart, there is an opportunity to embed greater societal equality and sustainability into the recovery, which would unleash a new era of prosperity.

“While the impact of Covid-19 on the global economy is undeniable, it is also clear that the actions of governments and regulatory bodies will divide the world into countries that experience significant decline and those who are more resilient and emerge stronger,” said Zurich Middle East chief executive Walter Jopp.




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