Physical health is a core problem of the Covid crisis. It is estimated that in the spring of 2020 New York about 1,4% of people who contract SARS-CoV-2 died of the virus or resulting complications.[i] About 95% of these were either above the age of 65 or had underlying medical conditions (such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, kidney or liver disease, obesity). This number increases as health care capacity is exceeded due to the pandemic.[ii] To keep health care facilities below their maximum capacity the “flatten the curve” strategy was developed.[iii] A further concern is that among patients who recover from Covid-19 there is a risk of long-term damage to their lungs, heart, and cognitive systems. For example, in Italy, two thirds of Covid patients still reported symptoms two months after having tested negative.[iv] In addition to deaths directly from the virus, the phenomenon of “medical distancing” is putting patients in danger. Out of fear of contracting Covid-19, patients avoid consulting doctors about health issues related to e.g. heart attacks or cancer, where a quick diagnosis is essential for treatment. A study in the U.S. in April 2020 found that 80% of patients were worried about contracting Covid-19 and that 29% had actually delayed or avoided seeking medical attention.[v]
All four hybrid complementarity strategies can be applied by temporary Covid-19 social entrepreneurship. The most important approach is the elimination strategy whereby social entrepreneurs contain the virus by breaking the infection chains. This development of new complementarities and the creation of demand for antagonistic assets are also possible. There is even a small potential for hidden complementarities where containment strategies can have unintended consequences on reducing the spread of other virus born illnesses.
Pre-contamination temporary Covid-19 social entrepreneurship can help eliminate the virus through four containment strategies by providing beneficiaries with
hygiene products (alcohol and gloves) to avoid contamination through surfaces.
protection equipment (including masks) and by facilitating social distancing (1.5 meters distance) to avoid contamination via droplets.
room ventilation or air filtration products to avoid that aerosols are spread indoors
services that move potential super spreader activities outside where aerosols disperse faster (e.g. in a choir, fitness center etc.) or by moving them into the virtual sphere
Post contamination temporary Covid-19 social entrepreneurship can help eliminate the spread of the virus by providing services that
allow for contact tracing of people who have been exposed to the virus,
help with the testing of suspected cases, and
assist in effective quarantine of potential and actual cases.
Developing new complementarities
temporary Covid-19 social entrepreneurship can support the elimination strategy by developing new complementarities that support social distancing. Social enterprises can, for example, provide services that allow high-risk beneficiaries people to stay, work, and learn effectively from home (e.g. food home delivery, work, and education via online services).
Creating demand for antagonistic assets
Not all beneficiaries can pay for the products offered by temporary Covid-19social entrepreneurship. Thus, in order to generate revenue for products (such as masks, filters etc) temporary Covid-19 social entrepreneurship can use approaches such as buy-one-give or even donation driven schemes. In these cases, the value proposition to customers lies partially or wholly in the fact, that products are provided free or at subsided prices to for example low-income beneficiaries in need.
While most of the effects of the Covid-19 crisis are negative there are a few hidden complementarities that temporary Covid-19 social entrepreneurship might be able to leverage. For example, many of the measures that fight the spread of Covid-19 also reduce infections with other virus diseases. This can have a coincidental effect in reducing deaths from influence and other virus borne diseases.
The highest risk group in relation to Covid are elderly people who make up the largest amount of fatalities and severe cases.[i] This implies that elderly people are in particular need of hygiene and social distancing.[ii] The beneficiary group falls into two subcategories.
Those currently in elderly care facilities need systematic support of these facilities which allows for regular testing and an availability of hygiene and protection equipment, as well as advanced air filtration systems.
Those elderly staying at home need temporary Covid social entrepreneurship to provide service such as shopping to reduce exposure
The second-largest risk group are all people with underlying medical conditions (such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, kidney or liver disease, obesity). Particular among younger people in this group it will be difficult to keep them isolated over long periods. Here it will be important if essential services can be provided in safe environments (indoors with ventilation and air filters) or outdoors.
Even when protection equipment is available health care workers tend to be at up three times the risk of infection compared to the average population.[i] Equally, during times of high risk due to very bad outbreaks, social entrepreneurs can provide health workers with places to stay close to their work reducing their commute in public transport and contact with their own families.