Phil Lempert on the Benefits of Immunity

Phil Lempert is a television and radio news reporter, newspaper columnist, author, consumerologist, and food marketing expert. For more than 25 years, Lempert, an expert analyst on consumer behavior, marketing trends, new products, and the changing retail landscape, has identified and explained impending trends to consumers and some of the most prestigious companies worldwide. Known as The Supermarket Guru®, Lempert is a distinguished author and speaker who alerts customers and business leaders to impending corporate and consumer trends, and empowers them to make educated purchasing and marketing decisions.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Let’s take a page out of the airlines frequent flier programs, or closer to home, those from supermarkets’ frequent shopper programs. In a Washington Post op-ed Dorry Segev and Marty Makary, both physicians and professors at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health have offered an interesting twist that supermarkets should pay attention to.

Last week they pointed out that 17% of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine dose, a number that is growing every day. There is strong evidence, they write, that immunity not only makes people far less likely to get sick from COVID-19, but also makes it highly unlikely they will spread the disease. Let’s put science into action, they declare. Local lawmakers should allow “immunity nights” or designated days or times for businesses to accommodate immune customers at a higher capacity. Doing so might just save businesses on the brink of failure.

Segev and Makary suggests that those who are now immune should be able to slowly and carefully start living their lives again. They say, go to public venues and gyms. Eat out. Shop and rebuild communities. For some businesses, this influx of customers could be a lifeline. In the supermarket world, since the pandemic began, most stores have allocated special hours for people to shop that are 65+ or handicapped or have fragile immune systems – how about turning that on its head? And offering special prime hours (when people really want to shop instead of 6-7 AM time slots). Or what about even offering certified vaccinated shoppers a discount?

Segev and Makary also point out that for people who battle depression from being inactive often remind us of how the soul longs for community and to be active. More than 42% of people surveyed by the US Census Bureau in December reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in December, an increase from 11% the previous year. Here’s how it could work they write: Businesses such as restaurants would allow those with documentation of immunity to enter with 100 percent capacity during certain times. Certainly this could also work in supermarkets – and their mostly shuttered grocerants. It’s not a new idea.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is already talking about “immunity passports” for his country as a way for people to get back to pubs and theaters. Israel is using them for entry into public gatherings and travel. Dr. Segev and Dr. Makary feel that our nation’s COVID-19 strategy should not be to simply to extinguish the virus. It should be to maximize overall health and transition to normalcy.

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