Lack of transparency is reducing epidemic policy

Are new yorkers Still puzzling over a new one, State-wide government The bar, restaurant and gym would have to be closed at 10 pm to prevent the spread of Kovid. Was it based on some brand-new evidence that mutates like a virus Evil spirit, getting Worse At night? You will not know this from the announcement by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who did not cite any research that justifies this policy. The declaration claimed, however, that New York uses more science than any state in the nation.


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I have seen it again and again since the onset of the epidemic: a new, “science-based” Kovid-19 measure is set, but the science in support of it is either unclear or completely missing. For example, last week, I was working on a story about the latest research in quarantine procedures. The best data at this point suggest that the eight-day stretch of quarantine, combined with the Kovid test, provides protection similar to traditional 14-day quarantine. But then I saw the New York State policy: Some people who came out of the state are allowed to quarantine for just four days. I asked the New York Department of Health how they would come to this decision, and they sent me another statement from Cuomo, stating only that they “worked with global health experts” on the plan. A formal guidance from the state’s Department of Health did not cite any research either, but it gave room to be proud of New York’s record of “strict adherence to data-driven, evidence-based protocols.”

This problem is hardly limited to one state. Reporting on the same quarantine story, I came to Alberta, Canada, which allows for some travelers to be risky even for a 48-hour period of quarantine. What was the scientific basis of this policy? I never heard back. A lack of transparency has also been shown under the guidance of the World Health Organization. Back in March, I emailed the headquarters in Geneva to ask how they felt certain at the time that the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus was not “Hawaii”. The press office answered my questions with a pair of untouched scientific documents. In that case, the decision to drop (or ignore) existing research – which suggested that other coronaviruses were likely to spread by air – could well be a fatal mistake.

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Hiding the scientific basis for epidemic policies makes it difficult for the public to evaluate what is being done. This means that they can be poorly crafted or even dangerous. However the risks may be deeper. When health officials present one rule after another without clear, science-based inference, their advice seems arbitrary and complex. It erodes public confidence and makes it harder to enforce rules that matter for this epidemic and future public health. As Zeynep Tufekci observed in March, both the WHO and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention sprung early messaging on masks by recommending that only health workers use them. Perhaps if these agencies were more accurate, citing the studies they were using to make this guidance, then the faces that followed would have seemed less arbitrary — and less fodder available to skeptics later Got it done.

Yet there are all kinds of unsafe rules in this epidemic. There was no way for the general public to know that earlier, card-game players were recommended to be 6 feet apart from the 3-foot rule laid down by a decades-old study., And that the recommended vacancy was doubled based on research into the spread of the original SARS virus through the cabin of the airplane. And what about the broader rule that 44 sq ft of space should be allotted to each child in the school? David Zweig of WIRED discovers that a consultant who found it in an education journal, who in turn had already been hit by a faulty calculation by an educational non-beneficiary. Some epidemiological guidelines are also stranger and more mysterious. To prevent people from going out unnecessarily and from spreading the Kovid-19 as a winter in the Southern Hemisphere, the South African government halted the sale of open-toed shoes and shorts (unless they had leggings Could not be worn), but on the grounds that any trip to purchase such articles of clothing would be insufficient. In a reasonably backward move, the city of Madrid has closed the parks but allows some indoor dining to continue. Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Officer of Canada recommended that people engaged in sexual activities wear masks.

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There is a precedence for public health agencies to provide scientific support for their advice. The WHO and the CDC sometimes cite research studies in their guidance documents. For example, the latter gives specific information behind his handwashing recommendations on science – including more than a dozen references to published research papers. The epidemic presented special challenges in this regard, given the unprecedented speed and volume of new research about novel coronaviruses. Even in the spring, 4,000 new papers were being published on the subject every week; And scientists were told to “drown” in a flood of findings. A portion of that new research now appears online before being vetoed by critics for a science journal. Some of the findings have not stood the test of time, and as the evidence changes, the battles will continue as to which studies should form policy. But right now we are not ready for that debate either.

There is a crisis over transparency in our Kovid guidelines, and this needs to be addressed. We live in a time when people check nutrition labels and worry about the condition of the farm where their meat was raised. So show us the data and research that informs the rules about the epidemic, however messy it may be. Let us see how Kovid-19 policy sausages are made.

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