Foreword from the president

By ADDE
December 17, 2020

Dear ADDE members and members of the dental industry,

Welcome to our final newsletter for 2020, a year which has proved to be one of the most challenging in living memory for the European dental industry and for the global economy. Our last newsletter was published at the end of the first lockdowns in Europe, but many European countries have now begun a second full or partial lockdown. Although dentistry was severely affected during the first wave of state-mandated closures, we have reacted and adapted quickly—as a profession and industry—so that the effects of second lockdowns can be mitigated. Innovative solutions in personal protective equipment, such as powered air-purifying respirators, are additionally helping to lessen the impact of the pandemic on dental teams.

Each EU country has been affected differently by the pandemic, but their responses to it have had many commonalities. Anecdotal evidence from colleagues in Germany suggests that a drop in turnover has been limited to around 15%. In the UK, the National Health Service dental business is still slow, whereas the private dental business has already bounced back to pre-pandemic level. It will be interesting to see whether the corporate dental business model—and digital technology—gain further traction as a result of this cathartic year. The ADDE survey remains a critically important information resource for helping members to understand how different dental markets have fared in comparison with others, how differing healthcare systems and national responses have affected the dental trade and how the overall dental business is evolving.

Last week, someone in the UK became the first person in the world to receive a SARS-CoV-2 vaccination outside of a trial setting. The name of the second recipient was William Shakespeare—something that could only happen in the UK! A mass vaccination programme is now being rolled out. This gives us hope that there will be an end in sight next year to the disruption caused by the virus. It was also announced last week that IDS 2021 will be rescheduled to 22–25 September 2021. Postponing the event was the right decision, in my opinion; however, it was disappointing to see the removal of Tuesday as the day of the event that is typically dedicated to dental dealers. We will work closely with our colleagues at VDDI to ensure that the interests of ADDE members will be heard and taken into account.

We also learned last week that it is increasingly unlikely that the UK and EU will be able to reach an agreement on a Brexit deal before the end of the transition period. Whereas this may be viewed as a failure of statecraft on both sides, business and trade must continue regardless of politics. One commentator observed that the EU and the UK are not disagreeing on practice but rather on theory. Either way, I will do my utmost to represent dental dealers, both large and small, because a healthy European economy needs the richness and strength that is brought to it through diversely sized businesses and organisations. Prior to joining the dental business, I worked in Germany as a software engineer—this was during the early 1990s, immediately after the Berlin wall came down. It was a unique time in the history of Europe, and it had a formative effect on me. The Schengen agreement was just coming into effect, and the abolition of border controls meant that it was a time of people coming together and working together towards a better future. By joining forces through organisations such as ADDE, dental dealers can better help and support each other. In my opinion, this truly reflects the European ethos.

The new year promises to be a busy one in which key challenges will be faced by the dental industry and society at large. These challenges will include mass vaccination programmes and the ongoing response to the pandemic, the introduction of the delayed medical device regulation, and the impact of Brexit. We look forward to 2021 with renewed optimism that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. This year has been stressful on many levels—as a dental business owner myself, I have experienced this personally—and so I wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas and a successful New Year.

Ed Attenborough
President of the ADDE

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