Misleading and contradictory claims on asymptomatic transmission led to global spread of Covid-19, according to leading macroeconomic influencers

30 June 2020 (Last Updated June 30th, 2020 07:26)

Misleading and contradictory claims on asymptomatic transmission led to global spread of Covid-19, according to leading macroeconomic influencers

Health officials and government authorities ignored the risk of asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 despite mounting evidence from scientists across the world. Acknowledgement of the risk would have necessitated drastic containment measures, something which government officials were reluctant to implement. Timely response was the most crucial element for stopping the global spread of the disease.

Paul Romer

Paul Romer, an economist, shared a New York Times article on how a two-month delay over public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic led to its global spread. The delay was due to faulty scientific assumptions and resistance towards new evidence on the evolving nature of the disease, which resulted in a sluggish response to controlling the spread of the virus.

Despite some scientists raising red flags over asymptomatic transmission, the warnings were dismissed by health officials and political leaders. Asymptomatic transmission would have required more aggressive methods of containment including wearing of masks by healthy persons and restriction of international travel.

The reluctance of adopt such drastic measures was one of the main reasons for the global spread of the disease that has cost thousands of lives, the article adds.

Adam Posen

Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, shares an article comparing the job retention schemes and other support provided to households, and small and medium size enterprises by the US and France.

The article notes that despite the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) initiated by the US being twice in size in terms of proportion of GDP as that implemented by France, it has been less effective in serving its purpose. The PPP was poorly implemented and failed to reach people and curbing unemployment.

The French approach, however, was far more effective as it was open to all companies that suffered a loss in business due to the pandemic.

Ugo Panizza

Ugo Panizza, professor and Pictet Chair at the Graduate Institute Geneva, shared an article on how the sub-Saharan Africa sub and poorest parts of South Asia face the biggest economic risks from the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The GDP in Africa is expected to be permanently 1% lower than that expected in a no Covid-19 scenario provided the pandemic is contained quickly. In a case where the pandemic lasts more than 18 months, the GDP is expected to be permanently 4% lower than that expected in a no Covid-19 scenario.

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