Consensus or chaos? Pandemic response hinges on trust, experts say

Article by Catherine Cheney: “Trust is a key reason for the wide variance in how countries have fared during the COVID-19 pandemic, determining why some have succeeded in containing the virus while others have failed, according to new research on responses across 23 countries.

The work, supported by Schmidt Futures and the National Science Foundation and carried out by teams at Columbia, Harvard, and Cornell Universities, studied national responses to COVID-19 based on public health, economy, and politics.

It organizes countries into three categories: control, consensus, and chaos. The researchers call the United States the leading example of high levels of polarization, decentralized decision-making, and distrust in expertise leading to policy chaos. The category also includes Brazil, India, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

To prepare for future pandemics, countries must build trust in public health, government institutions, and expert advice, according to a range of speakers at last week’s Futures Forum on Preparedness. Schmidt Futures, which co-hosted the event, announced that it is launching a new challenge to source the best ideas from around the world for developing trust in public health interventions. This request for proposals is likely just the beginning as funders explore how to learn from the pandemic and build trust moving forward….(More)”.