Sharp rise in COVID-19 concerns before the second lockdown in England

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Concerns for the safety of family members and loved ones have risen by a significant 15%, while personal worries are up 10%. Our COVID research panel is increasingly reporting that they know people who have had the virus – more so than at the peak of the first wave. 
 
The effects of ignoring social distancing and face covering guidance are abundantly clear, so some UK pension professionals have been taking additional precautions even prior to the announcement of a new lockdown in England. Only 15% are going to the office one or two days per week and are restricting social contact to close family and select friends. 
 
 
 

A prolonged second peak 

 
The expected minimum duration of the outbreak has increased yet again – by nearly 9%, meaning the outbreak is not thought to subside until the end of July 2021. This outlook is concerning for UK pension professionals, as it may make the general public increasingly unruly. 

As England enters into a second lockdown, the guidance variation across the country will be less confusing, but some have been disobeying the rules simply because they were ‘fed up’ with having their personal freedom restricted. Working from home is also causing fatigue, according to some on our research panel. 
 
 
 

Economic pressures are increasing again 

 
By far the worst change in the most recent data is the 18% increase in the expected minimum duration of the pandemic’s macro effects. After some oscillation, it has now extended to more than two and a half years, meaning we are unlikely to see the economy recover until at least Q2 of 2023. 
 
A prolonged second wave will be bad news for the global economy and UK companies. With unemployment already high, even more jobs may be at risk. The younger generation are unable not only to find work, but in some cases to finish their education. And while Brexit will deepen the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, debt levels will weigh on economic growth long into the future. 
 
 
 

How have your expectations evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic? Click here to tell us in our bi-weekly survey. 

 
 

Previous articles in this series: 

 
 
 

About the COVID Concern Index 

 
This short survey helps gauge sentiment of our community on the pandemic. The results are distributed via the community newsletter. Until 31/08/2020, this was a weekly survey. From 01/09/2020, the survey shifted to a bi-weekly cadence. 
 
The COVID Concern Index values should be used as indication only and do not constitute advice. Their values are bound by the choices available in the survey on which they are based. 
 
COVID Concern Index: 
 
  • 0 = respondents are not worried at all 
  • 100 = respondents are extremely worried 
 
Expected minimum duration of outbreak: 
 
A methodology change took place on 06/10/2020, affecting data from 20/10/2020 onwards. 
 
Prior to 06/10/2020: 
 
  • Lowest possible value = 1 month 
  • Highest possible value = 6 months 
 
Following 20/10/2020: 
 
  • Lowest possible value = 1 month 
  • Highest possible value = 12 months 
 
Expected minimum duration of macro effects: 
 
A methodology change took place on 15/04/2020, affecting data from 21/04/2020 onwards. 
 
Prior to 15/04/2020: 
 
  • Lowest possible value = 3 months 
  • Highest possible value = 12 months 
 
Following 15/04/2020: 
 
  • Lowest possible value = 3 months 
  • Highest possible value = 60 months 
 
Macro rates index: 
 
  • -100 = all respondents think rates will fall 
  • 0 = all respondents think rates will stay the same 
  • +100 = all respondents think rates will rise 
 
Sector sentiment index: 
 
  • -100 = all respondents think the sector will be a ‘loser’ in the pandemic 
  • 0 = all respondents see a neutral outlook for the sector 
  • +100 = all respondents think the sector will be a ‘winner’ in the pandemic 
 
Concerned about the coronavirus outbreak and its macro implications? Click here to take part in the bi-weekly COVID-19 survey.