Rational policymaking during a pandemic

Perspective by Loïc Berger et al: “Policymaking during a pandemic can be extremely challenging. As COVID-19 is a new disease and its global impacts are unprecedented, decisions are taken in a highly uncertain, complex, and rapidly changing environment. In such a context, in which human lives and the economy are at stake, we argue that using ideas and constructs from modern decision theory, even informally, will make policymaking a more responsible and transparent process….

The COVID-19 pandemic exposes decision problems faced by governments and international organizations. Policymakers are charged with taking actions to protect their population from the disease while lacking reliable information on the virus and its transmission mechanisms and on the effectiveness of possible measures and their (direct and indirect) health and socioeconomic consequences. The rational policy decision would combine the best available scientific evidence—typically provided by expert opinions and modeling studies. However, in an uncertain and rapidly changing environment, the pertinent evidence is highly fluid, making it challenging to produce scientifically grounded predictions of the outcomes of alternative courses of action….(More)”.