A Longstanding Pandemic Response Team Helped Intel Act Swiftly in the Wake of COVID-19

By Mary Mazzoni
May 12, 2020 3:00 PM ET

Companies around the world have collectively committed billions of dollars to help communities and health organizations combat the new coronavirus, but the pandemic is uncharted territory for most business leaders. And while the scope and scale of the coronavirus threat is unlike any we've seen before, global technology firm Intel was perhaps more prepared than most, thanks to a forward-thinking decision made nearly 20 years ago and investment that's continued to this day.

The tech giant created an in-house Pandemic Response Team amidst the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China in 2002, which ultimately sickened more than 8,000 people across 26 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The response team began as an informal group of executives, who coordinated efforts to protect employees and customers while supporting health agencies in the fight against SARS, but it soon evolved into a standing team within the company.

This group went on to lead Intel's response to other pandemics including the Avian Flu, Ebola and, now, the new coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. "When all this started happening, we were really able to activate that group and activate the learnings from past pandemics," said Suzanne Fallender, Intel's director of corporate responsibility.

During a webcast this week hosted by Susan McPherson of the corporate responsibility consultancy McPherson Strategies, Fallender went on to explain Intel's response and what can be learned from it.

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