Who could have believed that an organism smaller than 200 nanometers in diameter could turn the whole world upside down in less than a couple of months?

In the late eighties, I read The Stand, by Stephen King. It starts with a car pulling into a gas station. In the car is a man and his family, all of whom are infected by a deadly virus. Things go fast after that, and soon large swaths of humanity have succumbed to a flu worse than any other flu. 

Reading King’s book, I was naturally startled by the idea that a virus, incurable and fast spreading, could take the lives of so many people. It was a piece of fiction and a completely different kind of virus, but I wasn’t alone in getting the same feeling when the news of covid-19 began to spread across the globe. Highly infectious, highly fatal and no cure. Were we on the way to seeing The stand become a reality? 

In the beginning, no one knew, how hard the pandemic would hit us, and fear of the virus was about to get as bad as the virus itself. Many rumors were circulating and there were few facts. Should we shut down altogether, or were there other ways to deal with the pandemic? 

In Stena AB’s crisis team, we have dealt with various kinds of crises, but never anything even reminiscent of covid-19. A lot was new and we had to rely on the only thing that really works in crisis situations. Keeping a cool head, focusing on structure and processes, while at the same time, constantly analyzing the situation and working with the few facts that could be obtained. 

Thankfully, covid-19 has turned out to be no new Captain Trips, as the virus in King’s story was called. But covid-19 was bad enough and remains a tangible threat. More than thirty million people have been infected and over one million have died as a result of the virus. 

Crises are typically events that occur relatively seldom, are comparatively short-lasting – although during the course of the crisis they may be experienced as lasting an eternity – and they keep to one area. Covid-19 is a crisis in several guises. The crisis as it relates purely to health hazards is simpler to understand than the psychological crisis that has followed in the wake of the virus. Covid-19 has even sparked a new fear – the fear of going back to work. 

Magnus Carling

At the same time, the financial crisis that followed has left millions of people unemployed and it is difficult to grasp the effects of unemployment.

At Stena, we’ve seen relatively few cases. We have proactive leaders who have followed and implemented the recommendations, and we have all done our best to avoid spreading the disease. We all have to continue doing this until the pandemic is over.

Because if there’s one thing we know, it’s that the pandemic is going to end. The world may be permanently changed in many ways, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to hold out, keep being pragmatic and finding solutions to challenges while following the recommendations on how to deal with covid-19.

Magnus Carling

CISO, Stena AB


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