The next step in combating the coronavirus
WHAT WE WANT
We want security and freedom for people, to safeguard their physical, psychological and economic wellbeing. We want to be able to live with the new coronavirus.
Health and the economy seem currently in conflict with each other. This conflict can be resolved, if there is widespread, regular testing of people. This does not happen at present, because the capacity to do this is not sufficient.
This is why we are campaigning for systematic random testing across the board, so that
- individuals and the economy can live and function with COVID-19
- insight can be gained in the effectiveness of current and future policy measures
WE NEED YOUR HELP
to convince public opinion, media and policy makers that such a programme is crucial to simultaneously meet public health requirements and allow normal economic and social activity, as long as the COVID-19 pandemic has not been conquered.
Firm, fast and decisive action by governments – lockdown/shelter-in-place and spatial distancing measures – are succeeding in avoiding a catastrophic collapse of the healthcare systems and thus saving many lives in many countries.
However, the pressure on the economy is increasing and we have to manage rising expectations to ease the lockdown measures against the essential containment of the virus spread. Whilst we acknowledge the detrimental consequences of the dramatic reduction in economic activity, we strongly advocate maintaining public health as a priority while developing a sound and safe exit strategy.
A significant problem in the discussion is the lack of information on who is infected and contagious right now, who is immune, and where transmission of CoV-2 takes place. This means that many people, in particular key workers in care and emergency activities, are self-isolating while they are, based on today’s knowledge, not posing any infection risk. Thus, better knowledge about who is immune and can therefore neither be infected, nor infect others, is of paramount importance to develop and implement a safe exit strategy from the current lockdown situations in many countries.
For this reason, decisive action is now needed by governments to implement, without delay, a widespread and relentless testing regime, to strengthen the capacity to care for patients and to enable a safe restoration of social and economic life. Please support us by adding your signature to this request for governments to make this an immediate top priority.
The present lockdown/shelter-in-place and spatial distancing measures in many countries have been
- successfully flattening the exponential growth of new cases of COVID-19 patients
- preventing the catastrophic breakdown of the healthcare system and
- protecting the lives of numerous individuals who rely on a well-functioning healthcare system.
However, they also are a blunt intervention with undesired effects:
- Out of precaution, requiring many people who are not infectious to self-isolate, including medical and care staff, thus unnecessarily restricting the capacity of healthcare systems to cope with the situation
- Enforcing drastic containment (curfew) which may not be epidemiologically effective
- Causing enormous reduction of the affected countries’ economic activity and risking a worldwide recession of unprecedented magnitude
- Despite dramatic fiscal measures, leading to profound hardship for millions of citizens
- Posing substantial challenges to the education system and affecting millions of children
- Disrupting family and social relationships
- Causing lasting damage to the fabric of the economy and in return threatening the ability of societies to provide health and social care in the coming years.
An uncontrolled relaxation of the current measures could lead to a rapid flare-up of the number of cases, and in response, force governments to a re-imposition of a shutdown of all but essential social and economic activity. Such a second shutdown would be even more damaging than the first one, triggering a global recession with even greater devastation to people’s social and economic welfare. This must be avoided.
Mitigating the risk
There is a strong and growing consensus among researchers and practitioners that the most meaningful intervention is to rapidly establish a relentless, wide-ranging testing program that should be complemented by a contact tracing approach. Which measures are relaxed and the timing thereof can only be meaningfully determined based on solid data on individuals’ infections and immunity acquired. This can only be done through testing.
Personal request to governments, and political and business leaders
By adding my signature to this campaign, I am urging governments, and political and business leaders all over the world to take, without delay, the following steps to combat the coronavirus crisis:
- Implement a large increase in the daily testing capacity by mobilizing the necessary resources of public and private sector partners;
- Launch a pervasive, randomized testing program to establish both whether citizens currently have SARS-CoV-2, or have acquired immunity to it;
- Facilitate the adoption of a global standard for tracing infected people and those who have been in contact with them, without endangering citizens’ human rights and privacy; and
- Put in place mechanisms for collecting and correctly analysing and interpreting infection and immunity data and establish measures and guidelines for citizens to act accordingly.
Governments around the world have acted swiftly and with strong international alignment to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus. We mourn several thousands of deaths, but together we have so far avoided the worst consequences of this pandemic. However, the danger of the Coronavirus still prevails, and a more permanent program has to be established to enable the world, its inhabitants and economies, to live with COVID-19. General testing in all countries must be a key part to this program, and we trust in our leaders and governments to understand and implement such a plan and base decisions on its outcome.
Together, we will beat this crisis.
«…the value of information is high at present.»
Professor of Economics at Humboldt University
«… because decisions and policies need to be based on evidence and data.»
Head of Human Ressources at Telekom Austria Group
«We need data, otherwise we are navigating with a blindfold.»
Organization Development Professional, Adj. Asst. Prof. at Saint Louis University, Senior Advisor BVA Nudge Unit
«We just need to accumulate more knowledge to find optimal mitigation strategies.»
Chair of Statistics and Econometrics at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg
«Without testing, we don’t have data to conduct evidence-driven policy making. This is essential to minimize health risks while reopening the economy. »
President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy
«The economic burden is huge on individuals: Support everyone to get “back to normal” soon.»
CEO Monvia Gesundheitszentrum AG, Lecturer at Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration (HWZ)
«A strategy that involves widespread testing at its core is the only way out of this crisis.»
Professor of Economics at London School of Economics and Political Science
«Because large-scale testing in countries like Island or South Korea has shown that infection numbers were quickly brought under control. »
Owner, Heidi Glück media + public affairs consulting GmbH
«I think it’s a good idea.»
Managing Lawyer at Scheer Rechtsanwalt GmbH Vienna
Professor of Business Psychology at Kalaidos University, Advisor at The Negotiation Studio
«Because testing is the best way to face this crisis.»
Student and Former President of the Youth Parliament Canton of Zurich
«We need a better understanding where we are in this crisis!»
Holder of the Chair of Political Economy at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)