Countries now face difficult and difficult choices.

Nancy 2021-03-25


Countries now face difficult and difficult choices. End the blockade to restore its economy, but there is a risk of suffering from the Covid-19 epidemic, or prolong the blockade and cause greater losses to people's lives and economy.

In some of the most affected countries, large-scale testing is not feasible, and antibody tests used to detect immunity face reliability issues. This makes it difficult to determine which subpopulations are allowed to exceed the lock range, and how long to isolate.

There is a way out. Uri Aron and Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel said that we can use the development of coronavirus in humans to open our society every 14 days.

Most infected people are not infectious in the first three days after infection, and peak at the 4th to 7th days of infection. Therefore, in a 14-day cycle, people must work for 4 days and then lock in for another 10 days, which can minimize the spread of disease. During the working day, most infected people are most contagious during confinement, which reduces transmission.

Although people with more severe symptoms may be infected for a longer period of time, symptoms can also be tested to enable family members to isolate themselves and minimize secondary infections. During the blockade, asymptomatic infections on working days will exceed most of the peak infection period. When symptoms occur, rapid testing and isolation in homes and workplaces can help shorten the infection chain.

We can go one step further and divide the population into two groups and work every other week. Each family has four working days and a ten-day locked schedule. This will disperse production activities throughout the period and reduce the population density on working days, thereby reducing the infection rate. The downside is that this will be difficult to achieve.

The potential impact of the policy is simulated using so-called SEIR epidemiological models and macroeconomic models, which take into account the spread of the virus and the degree of worker participation in the labor market and production. The unemployment rate in Israel is expected to rise by 21 percentage points, while the unemployment rate under lock-in conditions will rise by 32 percentage points.

Compare it with the current situation. The French National Bureau of Statistics and the Institute of Economics began operations in March 2020, when France was under a strict blockade, 35% lower than normal. The UK ’s Office of Budgetary Responsibility reduced gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter by 35%. Forecasts by the International Monetary Fund, Central Bank and Investment Bank indicate that, including the recovery phase, the decline in 2020 will reach 6% to 12% of GDP. This is based on a fairly optimistic plan that will gradually unlock and resume normal activities.

The 14-day regular lock-in work policy has better health outcomes than no intervention, and in some cases even better than the current lock-in policy. Compared with the comprehensive blockade, its economic effect is better. The number of unemployed has decreased, and the results of both GDP and consumption have improved. It has a positive impact on predictability, production and consumption plans, and work in the informal sector.

The same timetable can be used for schools, in fact, the Israeli Ministry of Education is currently seriously considering the timetable. From the second month to the third month of implementation, it may also include restaurants, bars and pubs, and other places where people frequently participate in social activities. This can be done after observing the results of the first stage, but subject to health regulations and social alienation measures.

The strategy should be tested in a smaller area, tried for a month, and then modified based on the results. It is important that it should complement the existing social alienation, covering, testing and protecting risk groups. For most affected countries, efforts that started earlier than this month or next month may be feasible.

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