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.
«Without comprehensive testing and contact tracing, governments risk a dramatic rise in both human and economic costs.»
Novartis Chaired Professor of Management and Environment, Professor of Marketing INSEAD, Singapore
«Testing is central to enable us to live with the virus without severe and blunt distancing measures.»
Director of the department Behaviour on Markets
«We need to balance economic concerns and health issues. »
Professor of Business at the University of St. Gallen (HSG), Director of the Institute for Customer Insight (ICI-HSG)
«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
«Testing is an important element in reducing the impact of the new coronavirus.»
Professor at Princeton University
«We just need to accumulate more knowledge to find optimal mitigation strategies.»
Chair of Statistics and Econometrics at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg
«Gather knowledge about what’s unknown today – that’s what an extensive testing strategy can do for our society. »
CEO Russmedia Digital, Editor in Chief at Vorarlberger Nachrichten, President of the European Division of the International News Media Association (INMA)
«Testing is the key to better knowledge and thus to better management of the recovery phase.»
Professor of public economics and Vice-Rector for Research and International Affairs at the University of Vienna.
«We need valid data for valid decisions!»
Managing Director NetSkill Solutions GmbH
«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
«We need reliable data about the true infection rate to take appropriate actions that minimize the overall burden of the pandemic »
Professor of Marketing and Co-Director Susilo Institute for Ethics in the Global Economy
«We need more reliable samples and in-depth analyses to fight covid-19.»
Adjunct Professor of Business Administration with special emphasis on Diversity Management at University of St. Gallen