More than 17,000 people across the globe listened and watched online as Carnival Corporation and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) jointly conducted an online "Global Scientific Summit on COVID-19" on Monday.
The importance of masks, the combination of face shields and masks in some instances (to up the odds of not contracting the disease), the need for social isolation and the widespread testing of people who test positive but are asymptomatic were among the topics discussed.
Co-moderated by Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corporation, who was in Los Angeles, and Gloria Guevara, president and CEO, WTTC, in London, the discussion unfolded during three back-to-back-to-back one-hour sessions.
The first hour was designed to help attendees understand the virus. The second hour focused on prevention, treatment and a potential cure, and the third hour centered on how the world can move forward with life in a COVID-19 era.
Stressing that COVID-19 has “completely disrupted” the world, Donald said companies are seeking a way to put their best foot forward and 330 million people across the globe depend on travel and tourism for their livelihoods. Throughout the program, renowned medical experts shared the latest scientific knowledge and evidence-based best practices related to prevention, detection, treatment and mitigation of the virus.
Phil Cappelli, senior vice president, preferred partnerships, Signature Travel Network, was one of the many travel industry executives who tuned into the program. Calling the summit “excellent,” Cappelli said: "Education and understanding are ultimately critical factors in this very difficult space we find ourselves in the travel industry.”
Among the speakers were Dr. Steven Gordon, chairman of the Department of Infectious Disease, Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute; Dr. William Morice, chair, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic, and president of Mayo Clinic Laboratories; and Dr. Stacey Schultz-Cherry, faculty member, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, among other experts.
From a frontline seller’s perspective, “I found the summit very informative about COVID-19 and the precautions to take, and the possibility of a vaccine later,” says Ray Teet, who along with his wife, Joy, owns and operates a Dream Vacations franchise agency in Port St. Lucie, FL. “They also discussed what successes other countries have achieved, especially versus the U.S." Germany, for example, did extensive testing on asymptomatic people who had contracted the virus so these people were able to be isolated early on—helping reduce cases.
Cutting Through the Noise
From Donald’s perspective, the goal was this: “We hope to cut through the noise and establish a base line in science and the latest facts.” That said, the program did not focus on travel, tourism or cruising in detail.
“What I felt was missing was how any of this will or may affect the future of cruising,” said Teet, noting that he'd submitted several questions about that focus, but they were not addressed. Instead, the discussions touched on epidemiology, transmission, screening, testing, therapeutics and practical risk mitigation.
The mask issue rose to the top—with the medical experts saying it was important to non-politicize it. “If everyone would just wear a mask for two to three weeks, this virus would end,” said Dr. Michael Lin of Stanford University, stressing the important of “personal responsibility.”
The experts also touched on such steps as the importance of avoiding crowded public spaces like bars, playing basketball games or attending large events. One expert said wearing a face shield also—in combination with a mask—does increase protection, as eyes are one point of entry for the virus (not just the nose and mouth).
The summit’s listeners also learned that 27 vaccines have potential (two look very promising) but the time needed to vaccinate everyone isn't quick. It could take six months or more. Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general, said that even if a vaccine is developed for public use, “we should not presume coronavirus will be over in a few months.” In fact, Murthy doesn't believe life will return to its pre-pandemic normal during 2021.
Cappelli said he appreciated the time and effort taken to deliver an informative look into COVID-19 from a medical perspective and to give participants some thoughts for the future.
Advisors who missed the program and wish to listen to or view any of its three segments, can visit this link (up for a limited time): https://covidsciencesummit.com/.