Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A recent report by Deloitte posits four potential scenarios for how the coronavirus pandemic could affect the economy and society.

Why it matters: It's almost impossible to predict how an event as unprecedented as the pandemic will play out. But scenario planning allows business leaders to identify the most important questions a crisis poses, and prepare for a number of possible outcomes, rather than being locked into one future.

  • To make some sense of how the next three to five years will look, Deloitte convened a number of top scenario thinkers in an exercise led by Andrew Blau, a managing director at the firm. I spoke to Blau about the four scenarios that resulted.

The Passing Storm: After a slow start, the pandemic is contained through an increasingly effective health care system and political response.

  • Blau: "It feels unlikely at this point, but the surprise scenario is the one people are always least prepared for. It would be a storm that leaves us marked, but it wouldn't change everything."

Good Company: Governments struggle to control the pandemic. Large companies step up in their stead, accelerating the trend toward a more empathetic stakeholder capitalism.

  • Blau: "Companies need to imagine a world where customers are going to make very different demands on them, one where their relationship to governments will be fundamentally reshaped by this experience."

Sunrise in the East: Western countries like the U.S. struggle to manage the pandemic compared to China and other East Asian nations. As a result, Beijing seizes geopolitical primacy.

  • Blau: "This draws on a trend that was already in place before the pandemic: the continued rise of China. This unprecedented situation could take that trend and accelerate it.

Lone Wolves: The pandemic lasts longer than anyone expects, and in response, governments turn isolationist and tech-enabled surveillance becomes more common.

  • Blau: "This is the scenario that no one wants, but sometimes, that's the outcome that happens. It's a world in which it seems we can't eradicate the disease, and social distancing becomes a way of life.

The bottom line: "My one prediction is that the future will surprise us," Blau told me. But the scenarios outlined here at least give us a platform on which to try to prepare.

Go deeper: America's future foretold

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Aug 3, 2020 - Health

The pandemic hasn't hampered the health care industry

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The economy has been tanking. Coronavirus infections and deaths have been rising. And the health care industry is as rich as ever.

The big picture: Second-quarter results are still pouring in, but so far, a vast majority of health care companies are reporting profits that many people assumed would not have been possible as the pandemic raged on.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

The pandemic is boosting the public's view of doctors

Reproduced from Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic is leading Americans toward a more favorable view of doctors, according to our KFF polling.

Why it matters: New appreciation for frontline health care workers — expressed in polling as well as yard signs and nightly applause from apartment windows — could help boost morale within the medical profession and perhaps get young people more interested in specialties that aren’t usually the most lucrative.