• Immigrants & the economyCost of Excluding Undocumented Immigrants from Stimulus Funds: $10 billion in Economic Activity

    A new study found that the exclusion of undocumented residents and their families from the COVID-19 pandemic-related $1,200 stimulus payments given to taxpayers resulted in a loss of $10 billion in potential economic output. It also cost 82,000 jobs nationally and 17,000 jobs in California, the research found.

  • TerrorismThe Impact of COVID-19 on Terrorism

    While government leaders are focused on fighting COVID-19, the threat of terrorism has not gone away. In fact, homeland security experts have warned that violent extremists may seek to take advantage of the fear and disruption around the pandemic to further their agenda and recruit new members.

  • Supply-chain resilienceLet’s Not Forget the Important Lessons the Coronavirus Taught Us about Supply Chains

    By Sarah Golden

    Resilience is priceless when you really need it. It turns out our economic systems are more fragile than we thought. As locations across the world implemented “shelter-in-place” orders in an effort to flatten the coronavirus contagion curve last spring, we got a real-time lesson in how intertwined our transportation and distribution systems are. It was staggering to see how efforts to curb the human toll of a pandemic rippled across every sector and created incalculable emotional and social impacts.

  • Election securityElection Flexibility Needed to Address Pandemic Safety Concerns

    The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a severe threat to state election plans in 2020. To conduct an election during the COVID-19 pandemic, states need registration and voting options that minimize direct personal contact and that reduce crowds and common access to high-touch surfaces.

  • Pandemic costsGoogle Searches During Pandemic: Hints of Future Increase in Suicide

    U.S. Google searches for information about financial difficulties and disaster relief increased sharply in March and April compared with pre-pandemic times, while Googling related to suicide decreased. Because previous research has shown that financial distress is strongly linked to suicide mortality, the researchers fear that the increase may predict a future increase in deaths from suicide.

  • Hemispheric securityCOVID-19: Millions Face Severe Food Insecurity in Latin America, Caribbean

    The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean could potentially leave around 14 million vulnerable people in severe food insecurity this year, warranting urgent attention to save lives, according to projections by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The estimate suggests that an additional 10 million people could be pushed into poverty and hunger in 11 countries in the region, including the small island developing states in the Caribbean.

  • Face recognitionFace Masks’ Effect on Face Recognition Software

    Now that so many of us are covering our faces to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, how well do face recognition algorithms identify people wearing masks? The answer, according to a preliminary NIST study), is with great difficulty. Algorithms created before the pandemic generally perform less accurately with digitally masked faces.

  • Truth decaySocial Media Users More Likely to Believe False COVID-19 Information

    People who get their news from social media are more likely to have misperceptions about COVID-19. Those that consume more traditional news media have fewer misperceptions and are more likely to follow public health recommendations like social distancing.

  • Pandemic preventionThe (Low) Cost of Preventing the next pandemic

    Thus far, COVID has cost at least $2.6 trillion and may cost ten times this amount. It is the largest global pandemic in 100 years. Six months after emerging, it has killed over 600,000 people and is having a major impact on the global economy. “How much would it cost to prevent this happening again? And what are the principal actions that need to be put in place to achieve this?” asks one expert. His research team offers an answer: $30 billion a year.

  • PandemicsCombating a Pandemic Is 500 Times More Expensive Than Preventing One

    Experts say that the failure to protect tropical rain forests has cost trillions of dollars stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked economic havoc and caused historic levels of unemployment in the United States and around the world. These experts say that significantly reducing transmission of new diseases from tropical forests would cost, globally, between $22.2 and $30.7 billion each year. In stark contrast, they found that the COVID-19 pandemic will likely end up costing between $8.1 and $15.8 trillion globally—roughly 500 times as costly as what it would take to invest in proposed preventive measures.

  • The Brief // By Ben FrankelThe Science Behind the Alternatives to Lockdowns

    Four leading Israeli researcher argue that a correct reading of the Swedish experiment of a more relaxed approach shows that, despite early localized setbacks, it has been a success – and its success helps explode the three myths which have led governments around the world to impose unnecessary lockdowns. Sarah Knapton writes that an official U.K. government report says that more than 200,000 people could die from the impact of lockdown. Robert Peston writes that the cost of COVID-19 in the U.K. was unnecessarily high, and Yoon K. Loke and Carl Heneghan write that in the U.K., the number of COVID-19-related deaths is so high because “no one can ever recover from COVID-19”: A patient discharged from the hospital after being treated for COVID-19 will still be counted as a COVID death — even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later.

    It is difficult to think of another country that has botched the response to the coronavirus more spectacularly than the United States. Joel Achenbach, William Wan, Karin Brulliard, and Chelsea Janes write that the death rate from COVID-19-19 in the United States looks like that of countries with vastly lower wealth, health-care resources, and technological infrastructure, adding: “If there was a mistake to be made in this pandemic, America has made it.” Michael D. Shear, Noah Weiland, Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman, and David E. Sanger write that the roots of the U.S. current inability to control the pandemic can be traced to mid-April, when the White House began to focus on shifting responsibility for leading the fight against the pandemic – which was becoming a public health, economic, and political disaster — from the White House to the states.

    Wearing a face mask has become a political issue. J. Alexander Navarro writes that this was also the case during the 1918 pandemic. Beginning Monday, wearing face masks in public will be mandatory in France, and Valentin Hamon-Beugin writes [in French] that several French start-ups have developed technologies which would allow the authorities to monitor citizens’ compliance with the new rule.

  • Better approachThe Right Approach to Getting out of the Current Crisis

    Four leading Israeli researchers call for a realistic, science-based, myths-free approach to the coronavirus crisis. They argue that the Swedish approach, despite early localized setbacks, has not only been a success – it also helps explode the three myths which have led governments around the world to impose economically ruinous and socially destructive lockdowns. These myths are: 1) That the immunity triggered by infections does not last long, and hence cannot be relied upon to create herd immunity; 2) that in order to achieve herd immunity through infection-triggered immunity, at least 60 percent of the population must be infected; and 3) that the number of death resulting from wider infection would higher than the number of deaths resulting from economic lockdown and social restrictions.

  • Herd immunityHerd Immunity: Why the Figure Is Always a Bit Vague

    Nearly 100 years ago, two British researchers, William Topley and Graham Wilson, were experimenting with bacterial infections in mice. They noticed that individual survival depended on how many of the mice were vaccinated. So the role of the immunity of an individual needed to be distinguished from the immunity of the entire herd. Adam Kleczkowski writes in The Conversation that, fast-forwarding a century, and the concept of “herd immunity” is now widely discussed in government dispatches and newspaper articles. But what does it actually mean? “When a disease such as COVID-19 spreads through the population, it leaves some people immune, at least in the short term,” he writes. “The people who become infected later will increasingly have contact with these immune people and not with the susceptible ones. As a result, the risk of infection is reduced and eventually the disease stops spreading. This might happen even if some people in the population are still susceptible. Vaccination can be used to protect susceptible people and thereby hasten the decline of the epidemic. It can also be used to stop the virus from spreading in the first place.”

  • Lockdown costLockdown May Cost 200,000 Lives, U.K. Government Report Shows

    More than 200,000 people could die from the impact of lockdown and protecting the NHS, an official government report shows. Sarah Knapton writes in The Telegraph that as national restrictions were imposed, experts from the Department of Health, the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the government’s Actuary Department and the Home Office forecast the collateral damage from delays to healthcare and the effects of recession arising from the pandemic response. It estimated that in a reasonable worst case scenario, around 50,000 people would die from coronavirus in the first six months of the pandemic, with mitigation measures in place. But in the report published in April they calculated that up to 25,000 could die from delays to treatment in the same period and a further 185,000 in the medium to long term - amounting to nearly one million years of life lost. 

  • No (statistical) recoveryWhy No One Can Ever Recover from COVID-19 in England

    One reason why the number of COVID-19-related deaths in England is consistently higher than in neighboring Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland is due to a statistical flaw in the way that PHE compiles ‘out of hospital’ deaths data. Yoon K Loke and Carl Heneghan write in The Spectator that by PHE (Public Health England) definition, no one with COVID in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness. A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a COVID death, even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later. “It’s time to fix this statistical flaw that leads to an over-exaggeration of COVID-associated deaths,” they write. “One reasonable approach would be to define community COVID-related deaths as those that occurred within 21 days of a COVID positive test result.”