Coronavirus – How long can your company last?

Coronavirus – How long can your company last?

How long can your company last from the impact of Coronavirus? This is the very question every business owner in the country will have asked themselves, but have they come to the right conclusion? And what you can do to increase that lifeline?

The Current No Holds Barred Reality

As it stands we are confined to our homes. Stay Safe. Protect the NHS. Save Lives. That’s the message and that’s what any responsible person is doing unless of course they are a critical worker.

But if you’re anything like me then you’re probably quite bored of the isolation and getting frustrated. My main concern is, having had our company start the year in record fashion and having what looks to be a juicy business account, that that is all going to whittle away pretty quickly if things don’t change.

If money is only going in one direction and that is out of the business it’s only a matter of time. And currently the control of that time is out our hands. The government and law enforcement dictate that period however long it will be.

Estimated Timescales

What are these timescales? How long will the country likely be on lockdown? When will things return to normal?

Nobody can give me a straight answer so I decided to do the research and the math’s to come to a realistic conclusion. And by realistic that is in the middle of optimistic and pessimistic for you critics.

What the Research Says

To answer this let’s establish the end goal which needs to be met in order for restrictions to be lifted. For this to happen the government need the virus outbreak to be at a manageable level for the NHS to handle. At the start of March 5000 ICU beds were available, but already that is planned to increase by 33,000 within weeks. With 240,000 returning NHS workers specifically to assist this, that’s over 6 times as many.

At the start of March, 4,000 of the available 5,000 beds were already occupied almost exclusively by non Covid-19 infected patients. At a fair estimate that 1000 remaining, plus the 33,000 new bed spaces, will allow for 34,000 beds available for Coronavirus patients across the UK.

What Else?

According to the UK’s Chief Medical Advisor Chris Whitty , the average time a patient with Covid 19 spends in hospital is 8 days.

20% of people contracting the virus will require hospital treatment. Of that 20% 1 in 3 will require an ICU bed. This means that if every person in the UK contracted Covid 19 at once then the NHS would need 4.4 million beds in the ICU unit.

Infection Spread

The spread, even if uncontained, would still take a while to infect every person in the UK. Various studies have shown that 1 infectious person will infect 2.5 other people every 4 days. Even at an exponential and uncontrollable rate then this will still take 84 days to infect every member of the UK population.

But the infection rate will level out from infecting 2.5 people for every one person contagious, to 1 person for every 1 contagious person when it has infect 60% of the UK. This is due to Herd Immunity.

Herd Immunity

Herd Immunity works by where if one person has recovered from the virus then they are immune meaning that if they come into contract with a contagious person and would otherwise by 1 of the 2.5 people infected, they would no longer be infected due to their immunity.

This ties into the original goal that the government will have to re-open everything because by this point it will be manageable. But how long will this take?

Timescales with this Information

The mean infection rate from 2.5 at 0 infected people to 1 at 60% of the UK’s population infected is 1.75. Therefore initially there will be a spike this will steadily start to decline after the initial peak. This is what they mean by flattening the curve.

By reducing the infection rate to 1.75 as a mean figure then for everyone in the UK to be infected that increases from 84 days to 128 days. Factor in that using common sense isolated members of the UK community will account for 10% of the population due to location, age and vulnerability and that’ll take nearer 150 days. This seems a conservative estimate, but no information can accurately calculate how long the infection will take to infect these final 10%.

Broken Down

The other consideration is that the deciding factor on opening up the UK, presuming the borders are still closed, is when herd immunity is met at 60% of the population having been infected. To meet that number we are looking at 40,000,000 people infected.

With only a fifth of them requiring hospital treatment and a third of those needing an ICU bed that leaves 2.67 million people that the NHS needs extra capacity to handle. 2.67 million divided by 33,000 ICU beds with an average hospital admission period of 8 days means that in order for the NHS to handle this they need to spread the patients over 323 days.


The government will need to balance out health without killing the economy. Therefore the easiest way of doing that is in waves, whilst easing the overall impact over a longer time period.

Firstly, if you Furlough workers then it stops them defaulting on bills. But you are only likely to do in shortish bursts as it is costly for the government to pay the wages. You don’t want the companies going under who they are furloughed from. Therefore although we are working from home mostly or furloughed, this is only likely to be an initial burst now. This is to give the NHS and government preparation time to create that curve flattening.

Whilst personally I think the 3 week lockdown will be extended, I think it’ll only run up until the end of April in this first burst.

Some Predictions

The government will maintain a ban on mass gatherings, maintain social distancing guidelines and general advice. However, I also believe that by May they will ease the restrictions on people going to work and allowing business to flow. They will give tax reprieves to businesses and possibly introduce several assistance packages to keep as many businesses going as possible.

So although your weekends won’t exactly be interesting, work will begin circulating again. The infection rate will be restricted, the NHS will have breathing space and the government will keep the economy going. And companies will be able to resume working to a reasonable level.

The Answer

This is a best estimation based on the information known currently. But taking into account the infection rate mean, hospital capacities, presuming that testing to confirm who has been infected/immune is coming shortly and herd immunity then we’re looking at another full month. This is until some work easing happens, two months before there is some normality returning but 6 months until we start seeing the back of this from taking over our lives.

So if you are a business owner you need to consider where you are in the supply chain. If you can only last 30 days then I’m sorry but this doesn’t look good. If you can last 3 months then it’s going to be touch and go. But if you can last more than 3 months then you have a reasonably good chance of coming out of this. Sure, you’ll be battered but able to fight another day.

Get your house in order to last 3+ months minimum and your chances are good.

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