Just a few months ago, it seemed as though the national COVID threat was winding down. Reports of new cases across the U.S. had dropped to a few thousand a day, albeit briefly, before the so-called Delta variant — which is more infectious — started to become an issue, especially among the millions of Americans who remained unvaccinated. In recent days, new cases have climbed well past 100,000, and there likely is not an end in sight without some kind of additional intervention.

For these reasons, and because different parts of the world are experiencing their own "variant" surges, there is reason to be concerned about the effect such issues will have on the supply chain. Financial News Media recently reported that more than 4 in every 5 new coronavirus cases in the U.S. alone were the result of the Delta variant, leading federal authorities to once again urge all unvaccinated Americans to obtain the vaccine, with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky calling it "the most powerful tool we have" to fight the disease.

How will the Delta variant affect U.S.-based procurement pros?How will the Delta variant affect U.S.-based procurement pros?

But as multiple states — especially those in the Southeast and Midwest — grapple with significant outbreaks, more research is being conducted to find new ways to deal with COVID-19, the report said. In addition to the well-known vaccines developed by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna in recent months, it should be noted that Biovaxys is also developing a vaccine, but it's only in clinical trials at this time.

Potential impact
To gain a true understanding of how such an outbreak in the U.S. could end up affecting the economy and supply chain, one need only look at what is now happening in the U.K., where the Delta variant now has a strong hold on the nation. According to the latest data from the IHS Markit/CIPS U.K. manufacturing index, private-sector growth hit a recent low in July after posting strong recovery numbers for most of the year, though it was still considered strong in comparison with recent months and, indeed, much of the last five years.

However, it was the second straight month in which the private sector increased at a slower rate, and that trend may be a point of concern after the economy worked so hard to recover after the widespread release of the various COVID vaccines.

In the meantime
For now, the global recovery is still continuing apace — not all major countries are dealing with variant outbreaks, after all — but as these variants gain a foothold in highly developed nations, the likelihood of economic disruption rises, according to The Wall Street Journal. Additional "waves" of the virus could be disruptive on a global level; while economists believe growth in the U.S. "peaked" in the second quarter, the global peak isn't expected to come until the end of the third quarter worldwide.

This may be an issue already affecting procurement pros in the U.S., and if it isn't yet, it likely will be in the near future. As such, any fallback plans you can craft now could help you significantly in the months ahead.

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