Wednesday, April 08, 2020

The Steps Required to Stop and or Live with the Pandemic

Common Good
We have all learned a great deal about living with and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.  Not everything for sure, but enough to start sketching a plan for the guaranteed next one.  We don't ever want to be in a situation again where we must decide between our lives or a functioning economy.  We also recognize that both COVID-19 and poverty have their own associated health risks, so let's try to balance both concerns.

A working plan seems to be emerging from the fog of war.  It isn't fun.  It requires isolating those that feel sick, those that test positive, and those that are in contact with those that test positive.

This plan is also written without due consideration for individual liberties.  It is simply a list of what works to stop the virus from spreading, while keeping the economy functioning long enough for effective treatments and vaccines to be developed and "herd immunity" achieved.  An implementation of this plan, however, would need to balance the concerns for individual liberties against the common good. 

This plan is not original.  It is the aggregate of what has already been widely reported and argued to be working.  I have simply collected them in this living document and will continue to add, subtract and edit as we gain better insights.

The Pandemic Response Plan - Things We Can Do:
  1. Ensure global situational awareness which enables early alerts, disease recognition and prompt plan activations and escalations.
  2. Have enough healthcare capacity including hospital beds, staff, PPEs, ventilators and medicine to care for all patients during a pandemic.
  3. Test and quarantine all travellers entering a country.
  4. Implement social/physical distancing.
  5. Wear masks in public.
  6. Disinfect - Wash hands with soap, use hand sanitizer, don't touch your face and clean surfaces.
  7. Work remotely when possible.  Change work meetings to online.
  8. Test municipal sewage systems often to detect viruses early in a community.
  9. Test widely and often - individuals should be prepared to take their temperatures regularly, and test for the disease on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
  10. Test for immunity, so those with immunity can return to work and/or gather with others that are immune.  The problem is no one knows how long this hoped for immunity actually lasts.
  11. Isolate the ill until test results are returned - provide temporary accommodations overseen by medical professionals.  
  12. If test results are negative - remain quarantined in provided accommodations for 14-days, then if another test is negative return home. 
  13. If test results are positive - leave temporary isolation accommodations and enter a formal Covid-19 recovery facility that is medically supervised.  Most will recover and be sent home in about two weeks after testing negative at least twice.
  14. Those more seriously ill would be taken to acute care facilities (hospitals) for more intensive treatment.
  15. Contacts of those with positive test results will be informed, tested and isolated.
  16. Implement randomized testing in every county/region to determine the rate of infection in the population.
  17. Ensure all testing supplies and materials are sufficient for wide and persistent testing.
  18. Identify the demographic profiles of those that are vulnerable.  Protect the most vulnerable and enable those with little risk to keep the economy and services operating.
  19. Pay special attention to those that test positive with Covid-19 and have Type A blood as research shows they are 50% more likely to need oxygen and ventilators.
  20. Community members can be notified via mobile apps when they are within 100 meters of a person that recently tested positive or is waiting test results.
  21. Community members may be required to show proof of health/testing status when attending private and/or community events.
  22. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can quickly determine a shortlist of existing medicines and treatments to focus on for efficacy.
  23. Test shortlist of treatments and medicines.
  24. Scale production of approved medicines and stockpile.
  25. Develop vaccine candidates.
  26. Test vaccine candidates.
  27. Produce the successful vaccines at scale and stockpile.
  28. Distribute  the vaccines globally.
  29. Achieve herd immunity through global vaccinations.
This plan is all about acting with speed, isolating and tracing contacts for testing, while keeping the economy open.  The implementation of this plan will very likely look different in every country, state and region based on local cultures, laws, traditions, etc.

The unintended consequence could be people significantly changing their behaviors due to the potential isolation and financial costs resulting from human contact.  People will think twice, or three times about attending a neighborhood birthday party when the risk is 14-days in isolation if a person there is found to test positive.

Credit goes to the three public health experts, Harvey V. Fineberg, Jim Yong Kim and Jordan Shlain for their recent NYT article, "The United States Needs a ‘Smart Quarantine’ to Stop the Virus Spread Within Families."  

Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.