The Conference Board polled business executives across the U.S. and found that only 27% of U.S. workplaces in America’s 20 largest metro areas will be reopened by the end of the month. And more than a third of the executives surveyed—35%—still have no timeline to reopen their offices. A slightly larger group—39%—are targeting reopening in the first quarter of 2021.
Interestingly, the survey found that wide availability of a vaccine would be the deciding factor for only 5% of respondents.
Meanwhile, Fortune’s own research shows a large number of Americans—8% of those surveyed—may consider moving as a result of the pandemic. If they follow through on that intention, that would be a massive migration, and bad news for cities. But this isn’t the first time big cities have been declared dead, and I wouldn’t write them off. There’s a not easily quantifiable advantage to putting lots of creative people in close proximity.
Separately, I talked yesterday with Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos. His company focuses on neurological diseases, so hasn’t gotten as caught in the hubbub over COVID as other biopharma companies. (Although it’s gotten lots of attention for the unfortunate fact that its February conference became a super spreader event.)
Vounatsos says the kind of cooperation that’s been sparked by the pandemic also will be necessary to deal with the Alzheimer’s epidemic. The FDA last month agreed to review Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab for clinical use by March 7 next year. If approved, that would be a significant step forward, but far from a silver bullet. “One company alone won’t be able to solve this,” Vounatsos told me. Moreover, “the infrastructure is not ready.” There are too few medical specialists to diagnose early Alzheimer’s, too few of the necessary diagnostic scanners, and too few infusion centers to deliver treatment. Collaboration of the sort springing up around COVID will be critical.
Vounatsos will be joining me on September 16 for a conversation on climate, health & equity. If you are interested, register here.
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