19 min

Smart Containment with Active Learning: Proposal for a Data-Responsive & Graded Approach to COVID-1‪9‬ Harvard Center for International Development

    • News

Originally recorded on November 13th, 2020.

CID Director Asim I. Khwaja joined us after CID's virtual Speaker Series event for further discussion on his research proposal for governments to face the challenges of COVID-19 faster and better, using the Smart Containment with Active Learning (SCALE) strategy. SCALE is an active learning strategy that tests and refines policy in real-time through a context-specific approach, according to the local prevalence of COVID-19.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments face a difficult tradeoff, particularly in developing countries. Government officials must decide either to keep their economies open and risk thousands of lives or implement a lockdown and risk economic collapse, which may also result in many non-COVID related deaths. Even worse they must make these decisions without knowing what the real tradeoff between them is.

Lockdowns hit low-income countries especially hard. Larger informal workforces mean newly vulnerable populations are harder to target for support. Chains of food production and distribution are more fragile. With many people living on the margins of starvation, a higher prevalence of disease, and poor healthcare, non COVID related morbidity risks are high. The government also has limited money and public capacity to rely upon.

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To learn more about SCALE, please visit CID's website: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/centers/cid/publications/smart-containment-with-active-learning

Originally recorded on November 13th, 2020.

CID Director Asim I. Khwaja joined us after CID's virtual Speaker Series event for further discussion on his research proposal for governments to face the challenges of COVID-19 faster and better, using the Smart Containment with Active Learning (SCALE) strategy. SCALE is an active learning strategy that tests and refines policy in real-time through a context-specific approach, according to the local prevalence of COVID-19.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments face a difficult tradeoff, particularly in developing countries. Government officials must decide either to keep their economies open and risk thousands of lives or implement a lockdown and risk economic collapse, which may also result in many non-COVID related deaths. Even worse they must make these decisions without knowing what the real tradeoff between them is.

Lockdowns hit low-income countries especially hard. Larger informal workforces mean newly vulnerable populations are harder to target for support. Chains of food production and distribution are more fragile. With many people living on the margins of starvation, a higher prevalence of disease, and poor healthcare, non COVID related morbidity risks are high. The government also has limited money and public capacity to rely upon.

----

To learn more about SCALE, please visit CID's website: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/centers/cid/publications/smart-containment-with-active-learning

19 min

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