On 2 October enoteca met online with Prof. Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of New England Complex Systems Institute, MIT-trained physicist and complexity scientist, has warned about global pandemics for 15 years, contributed outbreak response protocols for stopping Ebola in Africa in 2014 – which worked.
From a rapidly growing outbreak to a global pandemic, COVID’s long term impacts are just beginning to be recognized. While the severity of the disease is manifest in fatalities and severe illness, it is increasingly apparent that even mild and asymptomatic cases can have lifetime consequences (brain damage, heart damage and perhaps loss of male fertility) for all ages. Economic hardships often attributed to government restrictions to combat the disease are increasingly recognized as essential temporary measures necessary to restore economic vitality. Carefully targeted economic supports are needed during strong anti-COVID actions to prevent permanent harms.
With the right policies economic activity can recover rapidly restoring economic growth and even accelerating it. How countries can achieve an exit from this disease must be addressed clearly and directly. For both health and economic reasons it is imperative to act strongly. Stopping transmission, while challenging, is achievable. I will review strategies, challenges and success stories in China, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand and recently Australia, as well as countries that have partially if not completely controlled the outbreak in Africa and South America. I will discuss, in particular, challenges in high density urban areas, where all aspects of the response effort must be well orchestrated, including community ownership and a Green Zone strategy.