In mid-March, I cited Tomas Pueyo's article "Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now". It was a clarion call to politicians and business leaders to take immediate action to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and listed various measures that would help in that process.
I was interested to learn that a number of experts in their field have since joined with Mr. Pueyo to study the matter further. They've published four more articles, which I recommend to your attention, and will be publishing more (you can sign up for notifications here). The articles analyze what's happened around the world, what's worked, and what hasn't. Those so far published include:
They've also produced a more formal, scientific article titled "Evidence-based, cost-effective interventions to suppress the COVID-19 pandemic: a rapid systematic review". Click on that link to go to its summary page, then click "Preview PDF" to read the text.
I find these articles interesting in that they're analyzing events "on the ground" and recommending ways to make dealing with the pandemic easier for all of us. They're not politically motivated, and don't seem to have any particular special-interest agenda to push. They appear to aim to provide as much useful, practical information as possible. For example, from their latest article:
Many countries are enduring the Hammer today: a heavy set of social distancing measures that have stopped the economy. Millions have lost their jobs, their income, their savings, their businesses, their freedom. The economic cost is brutal. Countries are desperate to know what they need to do to open up the economy again.
Thankfully, a set of four measures can dramatically reduce the epidemic. They are dirt cheap compared to closing the economy. If many countries are enduring the Hammer today, these measures are the scalpel, carefully extracting the infected rather than hitting everybody at once.
These four measures need each other. They don’t work without one another:
Testing and contact tracing are the intelligence, while isolations and quarantines are the action.
- With testing, we find out who is infected
- With isolations, we prevent them from infecting others
- With contact tracing, we figure out the people with whom they’ve been in contact
- With quarantines, we prevent these contacts from infecting others
There's much more at the link.
The thing is, of course, that these measures aren't "one-size-fits-all" like the total shutdown of the economy currently being experienced. They require good judgment, careful administration and constant monitoring of the health care workers in the field doing the work. That's anathema to bureaucrats, who'd rather use a single mold and force everyone into it, because it's easier to administer that way. (The bureaucrats will also have to get out of the way of those who can produce solutions - such as, for example, cheap, accurate easy-to-use tests for COVID-19 - rather than micromanage every aspect of the problem.) Politicians also won't like it, because it demands that they use their heads rather than react with a knee-jerk. (For an example of the latter, note the number of states whose governors have extended the lock-down, some into July, rather than proactively seek to restart their economies while protecting citizens so far not affected by the virus.)
Kudos to Mr. Pueyo and his team for producing these articles. It's good to have all the information pulled together and synthesized, to provide a detailed overview of successes, failures, and potential next steps. I look forward to seeing what they have in mind in future. Thanks to them and those like them, the rest of us are better informed, and have options to consider - and to recommend to our elected leaders.