18 Simple Steps to Deal with Future Respiratory Virus Pandemics

Without a need for vaccines, contact tracing, lockdowns or any other far-reaching measures.

  1. Avoid superspreading events, which seem to occur when large numbers of people spend a prolonged period of time in poorly ventilated spaces, especially when there is a lot of laughing, singing, shouting or talking involved.
  2. When it is not possible to avoid such settings entirely, people should spend as little time as possible in them. Duration matters.
  3. Consider advising people to wear masks in such settings as well as in public transport but note that evidence for the efficacy of wearing masks is mixed at best, and people may take greater risks when they believe masks will protect them.
  4. Quarantine & protect the vulnerable (the elderly, people with serious other illnesses), and provide them with all the services they need.
  5. Quarantine carers with (non-infected) nursing home residents & pay >500% overtime.
  6. Don’t send infected patients (back) to nursing homes.
  7. Isolate infected patients from others: Create special, isolated facilities either within or outside of hospitals and nursing homes.
  8. Keep the economy and public life open: Let the healthy non-elderly live their lives.
  9. Promote spending time outdoors.
  10. When possible, move indoor activities outdoors.
  11. When indoors, open windows.
  12. Encourage people who don’t get enough sunlight to take vitamin D supplements as there is an emerging, strong body of research that shows vitamin D deficiency to be a Covid-19 risk factor.
  13. Install or improve HVAC systems so that air with droplets that contain infectious virus particles is not circulated from room to room: Invest in systems that take in a lot of outside air instead of merely heating or cooling indoor air, or in systems that can kill or remove infectious virus particles from the air.
  14. Create virus clinics and telemedicine so that suspected virus patients don’t have to go to doctors where they may infect others.
  15. Everybody who tests positive or is a suspected patient receives a pulse oximeter and a thermometer to continually monitor their oxygen levels and temperature.
  16. Order ample PPE supplies before the pandemic starts.
  17. Financially reward hospitals for making treatment data publicly accessible in real-time so that doctors, health officials etc always have available a vast amount of up-to-date information from all over the world about which treatments are effective and which are not.
  18. Devise standardized protocols for recording infections, hospitalizations and deaths (including standardized criteria for what counts as dying from Covid), financially reward hospitals for providing this information, and make the data publicly accessible, to enable meaningful quantitative comparisons between different regions to get a much better sense of the spread and severity of the pandemic.

That’s all.

For many more suggestions (as well as references to academic research) for reopening the economy while limiting the damage Covid-19 is doing, see here.

But if we implement the 18 measures mentioned above, most of these 58 measures may turn out to be unnecessary.

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