Cheap and effective interventions

From Jan Kulveit: important, functional and cheap interventions.

  • Compulsory wearing of masks: Unfortunately the debate about masks was led completely astray by discussion about whether they are effective as protection of the wearer, and by the attempts of many governments to prevent hoarding by spreading the idea that masks are not effective as personal protection. However, the main benefit of everyone wearing masks is completely different: the mask limits the transmission from infected individuals. What’s crucial this works even in the pre-symptomatic period, and for asymptomatic individuals. So the wearer mainly provides a public good. Additional benefits are in encouraging behavioral changes. Masks remind everyone of the need for distancing. They are also great for signalling: people who are not taking the situation seriously don’t wear masks, or don’t wear them properly, and make it easy for everyone avoid close proximity with them. For how to get 10M people wear a mask in 2-3 days by promoting DIY efforts read here.
  • Scalable contact tracing solution based on use of telecommunications data: Here is how it works. Anyone infected is interviewed by an operator to track their past contacts. The operator is using our Memory Map, which includes telco data, banking data, phone location history and other sources to help the patient remember their whereabouts and contacts. All with user’s consent and within GDPR. New suspected cases are then invited by SMS to be tested. We are already extending this further to more data sources, mobile apps etc. The system was launched here in Czechia in one week including the necessary emergency legislation and the setup of the call centre. It is packaged and can be rolled out to other countries.

Both of these interventions are very cheap and effective. They have been effectively used in several Asian countries. Outside of Asia the only place implementing them I’m aware of is Czechia and Israel, and possibly Slovakia.