Covid-19 Special Report: all updates from our webinar program

As #1 think Private Tank in Italy we feel strong social responsibility to provide insights on the size of the crisis that is affecting us because of the spread of Covid-19. We have involved Italian and international experts in an intensive webinar program that analyzes the social, medical-scientific, economic-financial and political aspects of the time we are living.



March 15 -20, 2020

In the difficult situation everyone (individuals and companies) is experiencing, The European House – Ambrosetti is looking to make a useful and valuable contribution by providing detailed information about the multiple aspects of the crisis that has hit us.

Our intent is also to provide a sign of awareness and “social responsibility” towards people, the majority of which will find themselves working at home over the next few weeks (while interacting with colleagues using a range of tools and platforms).

As the #1 private think tank in Italy and thanks to our network of experts in Italy and internationally, we are creating papers and webinars to provide a range of in-depth coverage on the novel Coronavirus involving four main areas:

  • Social
  • Scientific/Medical
  • Economic/Financial
  • Political


Much of this content is available through our digital channels.

Provided below is a synthesis of a number of webinars we produced during the week of March 15-20.

The post- Coronavirus world: how international balances of power will change

March, 16 2020 Webinar

Vittorio Emanuele Parsi, Professor of International Relations,
Università “Cattolica del Sacro Cuore” di Milano

The Coronavirus has triggered significant reflection regarding the impacts on the social-economic systems of the countries affected to a greater or lesser degree, but what impact will the Coronavirus have on the global geopolitical situation and international balances of power?

In essence, there will be no major alterations in the hierarchy of the international political system, but the specific interdependencies of the global context and the effects of these interdependencies could change.

The Coronavirus generated a slow-down in the Chinese economy, but the advantage for the economy of the United States has been short-lived.
Chinese production is now returning to full-capacity, but it will not draw any benefits from the slow-down in other economies because the global system is highly-interconnected and -interdependent. Following the Coronavirus, the Belt & Road Initiative will also be less than what was expected.

The Coronavirus emergency has also revealed a number of positions of some countries.

For example, in this situation, the US has displayed a slow-down regarding a sense of belonging to the so-called Western community, and from the political point-of-view regarding Western democracies.

A number of differences between the American healthcare system and those of the European systems have also emerged, as well as among the various models of the European countries themselves, which impact on the political responses that in these weeks the different governments are preparing.

From a healthcare standpoint, the United States does not have a strong system, compared with the European systems.

In Europe, the leadership of the European system held by Germany should not undergo change because the reaction of Germany seems positive and its economic, productive and healthcare system is solid.

The way in which Italy is responding and will continue to respond to this extremely serious crisis is crucial because it influences the perception of the country’s actions and its strength within the geopolitical scene.

Interdependence on a global level exists and it will need to be managed to promote a level of international cooperation. A new Bretton Woods will be needed. In other words, provide national governments with the means required to manage international issues.

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Coronavirus in Italy: current status and predictions for the weeks to come

March 17, 2020 Webinar

Carlo Signorelli, Professor of Public Health and Hygiene,
Director of the Post-Graduate School of Hygiene & Preventive Medicine,
Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan  

The COVID-19 pandemic began on the Asian continent and spread to Europe and other countries, including America. In many European countries, with a delay of about ten days compared with what occurred in Italy, infections are now increasing.

Differences in the way the primary or final cause of death is determined is the reason for the variation in mortality rates between Italy and other countries. In recent days, Spain is the European country with the most rapid growth rate, probably also due to differences in the way people socialize. History teaches us that often islands—because of their geographical position—have a lesser impact and this, in part, could justify the statistics from the United Kingdom. The Coronavirus is a highly-contagious virus that is transmitted through respiratory droplets and has an average incubation period of 5-6 days to a maximum of two weeks.

We also know that the virus also remains on surfaces for several hours or days. The characteristics of this virus, whose effects are serious in nearly 10% of all cases, render inapplicable the concept of herd or community immunity.

The strategy adopted by Italy through a series of restrictive measures, is guided by three major concepts:

  1. Delay and flatten the epidemic peak
  2. Gain time and reduce the impact on the national health service
  3. Reduce the overall number of those infected

The personal prevention measures are maintaining a distance of at least a meter between individuals and washing hands. Personal hygiene and cleaning are indispensable to limiting the spread of the virus.

The measures taken on a centralized level to restrict mobility and close down a number of activities are absolutely necessary in this phase to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

The current evolution of the epidemic in Italy was not easily predictable. Lack of knowledge about the virus and its high level of contagiousness, including in those without symptoms, caused the number of cases to explode in a short period of time. Currently, Italy’s healthcare system, which is reacting well to this emergency, is finding itself having to face two major critical aspects: the availability and method of managing intensive care units and the availability of personal protection devices (masks), especially for healthcare personnel.

On an individual level, following the conduct recommendations indicated by healthcare authorities and social distancing are essential, and together with the measures issued by government, these could lead over the coming days to a slow-down in the growth of the epidemic curve and, subsequently, a progressive lessening. The rapidity with which the epidemic curve decreases will depend on the ability to respect and maintain these social distancing measures.

Within a few weeks, the new scenario will impose a new challenge: reconciling public health needs with the need to relaunch the economic-productive system and other activities. It will be absolutely necessary to start up again with new rules of behavior and management of the workplace and public spaces to avoid a relapse of the epidemic and the creation of a second epidemic curve in the coming months.

The time required to develop a vaccine is not compatible with the current management times of COVID-19 which requires immediate response.

On the other hand, experimentation currently underway in a number of anti-viral and rheumatoid arthritis pharmacological treatments could open the way for a number of major opportunities for patients, including in the short-term.

The outcome of the battle against the COVID-19 epidemic depends on a series of actions: general prevention measures, individual behavior and different rules and ways of managing public spaces.

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From vulnerable to resilient: managing governement and business in the Coronavirus era

March 19, 2020 Webinar

Valerio De Molli, Managing Partner and Ceo, The European House – Ambrosetti;
Enrico Giovannini, Professor of Economic Statistics, Università di Roma “Tor Vergata”

Key points from the presentation by Valerio De Molli

Over the last few days, there has been major growth in the infection curve on a global level, with—other than in Italy—a significant increase in other European countries, including Spain, France, Germany.

Although not fully comparable given the different criteria used in their compilation, data regarding deaths in the various countries are also worrying.

As of March 16th, Italy had 35,713 cases, of which 50% were in Lombardy, predominantly in the provinces of Bergamo and Brescia.

The trend in the curve of cases in Italy is similar to that in China during the same period in which the quarantine measures were launched.

Although different from those in China, if the containment and conduct measures in Italy were to be followed effectively, following a quarantine period, we could see an evolution in the infection scenario that would begin to decrease as it did in China, or in the area around Lodi.

The potential scenarios that could be hypothesized depend on the extent to which the restrictive measures indicated by the government are respected.

On the economic front, COVID-19 will have an equally important impact.

It is estimated that, for 2020, there will be a 2.5% to 3.5% decrease in GDP, without taking into consideration the impacts resulting from the interdependence among global production supply chains and the negative impacts the Chinese downturn could cause in European manufacturing.

Highlights from the presentation by Enrico Giovannini

Transitioning from the vulnerability that brought the Coronavirus to the resilience of systems is the great challenge for all, both government and businesses.

Start-up in the various industrial sectors will not occur at the same time for everyone. The tourism sector will unquestionably be on a different time frame than the automotive sector and, in many cases, manufacturing will be affected by its interdependence with other European sectors. It is absolutely necessary to implement a process of foresight, i.e., imagine different scenarios to which to link investment choices.

It is on the duration and intensity of the shock on countries and companies that the response choice depends in terms of absorption, adaptation or transformation.

The new paradigm of policies, reclassified into five areas: prevention, preparation, protection, promotion (4P) and transformation (1T).

A key element becomes the social-production transformation that systems are able to implement.

It will be necessary to create two parallel teams: alongside a crisis unit, create a unit capable of resilience comprised of a number of experts that can identify the opportunities for re-starting and the strategic transformations required, while keeping in mind the new direction created by this crisis.

The 4P+1T model must be adopted. Companies must mobilize people of different ages and experiences and launch this transformation process. A cooperative approach is very difficult to implement during moments of crisis, but it is the necessary course to re-start.


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Pandemic and predictions: mapping the spread of the virus through Big Data and A.I.

March 20, 2020 Webinar

Alessandro Vespignani, Director of the Network Science Institute & Stenberg Family Distinguished Professor of Phisycs and Informatics, Northeastern University, USA


Over the last ten years, something has change when we speak about datification. Enormous quantities of machine-readable data began to be digitalized, and this has changed the ability to do science and understand phenomena. The speed of the spread of epidemics has changed because of the development of connections where, thanks to air travel, distances and connection times have been reduced.

Building models that integrate data regarding population, mobility and epidemics makes it possible to have complex models that are increasingly closer to the real situation and which aid in building potential scenarios and, therefore, attempt to change the trajectory of the pathology.

The evolution of the novel Coronavirus, which began in China in December 2019, is different from that of SARS in 2002, also because of the infection level even in the absence of symptoms and the incubation period that is being seen for COVID-19.

The current strategy of countries, including Italy, is to attempt to flatten the infection curve so that healthcare systems will have to manage a lower number of people who are ill.

Immediate closing of schools and all activities was extremely important in the measures adopted in China.

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