4 Jun.

Public health, economic effects and data privacy as businesses open

Thursday, 01:00 p.m. | 35 min

Recent developments around COVID-19, specifically in relation to public health, the UK and global economy, and the use of data now and after the pandemic.

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Public health - Karen Taylor, director, Centre for Health Solutions, Deloitte UK

Karen began her update on public health by noting the key components needed to ensure an effective approach to the response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, that governments, healthcare systems and employers need a multi-faceted recovery plan comprising: testing, tracking, contact tracing and monitoring.

She also noted the importance of effective collaboration, including constant review and revision of the approach while keeping under reflection the methods used in other countries and regions, so governments can adapt as necessary.

Karen noted that most countries are turning to digital contact tracing solutions to supplement manual tracing, by leveraging smartphone technology. Methodologies vary between centralised and decentralised approaches across the globe, which impacts where data is stored and who can access it. The EU Commission recommends a decentralised approach.

Data collected before COVID-19 gives an interesting insight into consumer behaviour, showing that willingness to share health data is at its highest in the US, and lowest in the Netherlands, with trust and transparency of use seen as crucial. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer behaviour has changed in this regard, with more people willing to share their data.

The UK and the global economy - Ian Stewart, partner and chief economist, Deloitte UK

Ian spoke about employment, and the possibility that some jobs, which were initially preserved through furlough, may cease to exist, at least in the short term. He referenced airlines in particular, some of whom have said there will not be a return to full volumes. There has already been an impact on the jobs market in May, with claimants for universal credit rising, and it’s likely the UK will see a sharp rise in unemployment in the coming months.

Ian spoke about what the future of the labour market might be, noting we have already seen long term growth in health and social and IT, both of which are likely to get a further boost on the back of the pandemic.

The big story of the past decade has been the sharp increase in private sector employment, this is beginning to slow and we can assume that the UK is now at a turning point, where public sector jobs may begin to rise again.

Data privacy and how it will be managed - Peter Gooch, partner in cyber risk services, Deloitte UK

Peter notes that the past 60-70 years has seen different perceptions of the value of personal data and how it can be used and controlled, and there are still many polarised opinions. These have often been driven by misuse and trust is incredibly important, especially in its impact on what governments and organisations might do with data in the future.

Right now, tech solutions and personal data are being used in different ways to control and contain the virus, but it is important to strike the balance between the right to privacy and greater public interest.

Data privacy and management will play an important role in several areas. There are privacy implications for the return to work, immunity passports and other ideas being considered, such as temperature checks and video monitoring within an office.

A general privacy principle is not to collect more data than is needed. However, now is a time to carefully consider how this data could be used for the greater good in future – for instance if there were another outbreak or a different pandemic. If this was considered, it would be especially prudent to look at what should and should not be anonymised, and for organisations to be transparent on what they are doing and why.

Peter’s key recommendation going forward was for companies at a minimum to undertake a data protection impact assessment, in order to instil structure and confidence in decision-making. 


Ian Stewart

Ian Stewart

Partner and Chief UK Economist

Ian Stewart is a Partner and Chief Economist at Deloitte where he advises Boards and companies on macroeconomics. Ian devised the Deloitte Survey of Chief Financial Officers and writes a popular weekly economics blog, the Monday Briefing. His previous roles include Chief Economist for Europe at Merrill Lynch, Head of Economics in the Conservative Research Department and Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Ian was educated at the London School of Economics.

Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor


Karen is the Research Director of the Centre for Health Solutions. She supports the Healthcare and Life Sciences practice by driving independent and objective business research and analysis into key industry challenges and associated solutions; generating evidence based insights and points of view on issues from pharmaceuticals and technology innovation to healthcare management and reform. Karen also produces a weekly blog on topical issues facing the healthcare and life science industries.

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Thursday, 4 Jun 2020 01:00 p.m.
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