• YB Wong Chen

Two approaches to overcoming the COVID-19 virus

Posted on Facebook, 16 April 2020 at 10:19 Globally, the reported infection rate has hit 2 million and claimed the lives of 134,000, with 510,000 recovered. The death rate is tricky to calculate due to the long incubation period, nevertheless the WHO has put a rate of 3.4% based on March 3rd 2020 cut off date.

Data is incomplete and suspect at many levels. There is a lack of mass testing, locally and globally. We also have asymptomatic carriers, and the phenomenon of recurring patients. And in some countries, intentional political suppression of numbers.

On the big picture level, there are basically two approaches.

First, a scientific race to find (a) a vaccine and effective treatment, and (b) containing the virus via lockdowns to buy time for (a).

The alternative approach is a herd immunity/survival of the fittest strategy, which will sacrifice countless of lives. This alternative approach will open up deep societal issues regarding inequality and power.

In the weeks and months to come, as the economy stagnates further, more and more policy makers will be looking at a combination of both approaches. Thus, reliable and good data is the key to enable policy makers to model the best policy decisions.

This PN government needs to collect better data. If we have a problem on that front, then they need to honestly say so and then work on improving data collection. We need more tests and more labs, and we need much more resources for the frontliners. Procurement of PPE, masks, gloves must be transparent and accountable. I have heard of allegations of reported bottlenecks in the supply chain of these items.

So my plea to the government is simple; fix the data collection and then share the data. Government must be transparent with data and share with all MPs. Finally, Parliament must convene, put in check and balance and policy makers can then constructively debate and work on a national solution.