Exit strategies for Covid-19

Marcos Lopez de Prado, the financial mathematician whom we have mentioned several times before in this venue (see, for example, Marcos Lopez de Prado testifies before U.S. Congress), has co-written an article entitled Exit Strategies for COVID-19: An Application of the K-SEIR Model. The article, actually a 52-page presentation file, is co-authored by Lopez de Prado (Cornell University) and Alexander Lipton (Hebrew University of Jerusalem and MIT).

In this presentation, the authors argue that universal lockdowns are blunt tools that should be employed only for brief periods of time. They then present a new mathematical model (K-SIER), which permits one to simulate the outcomes of lockdowns and evaluate a variety of exit strategies, balancing the needs of saving lives, protecting the vulnerable and preventing the exhaustion of medical supplies and personnel.

Here is the Abstract:

Six weeks after becoming a pandemic, COVID-19 has caused over 150,000 deaths across 210 countries. Governments around the world have instituted universal lockdowns to curve the spread of this serious disease. While it is obvious that extended universal lockdowns have saved lives that otherwise would have been lost to COVID-19, they have also caused historical losses of livelihoods. Universal lockdowns are particularly detrimental to minorities and the working class, who have suffered the greatest job loss since the Great Depression. In some countries, unemployment carries the loss of access to health services, which is the opposite of what lockdowns intended to achieve. Hundreds of millions of citizens worldwide will endure the effects of universal lockdowns for years to come.

Universal lockdowns are a blunt tool that should be used tactically, for brief periods of time. In this study, we introduce a new mathematical model (called K-SEIR) to simulate the outcomes of lockdowns, and help evaluate various exit strategies. We demonstrate that targeted lockdowns can achieve better outcomes than universal lockdowns, in terms of (1) saving lives, (2) protecting the most vulnerable in society (the elderly, the poor), and (3) preventing the depletion of medical resources.

There is not one solution that fits all. National governments must device tailored targeted lockdowns, based on their particular circumstances. We hope that the K-SEIR model will help governments learn from the mistakes of the COVID-19 crisis management, and help prepare society for COVID-20.

For full details, see the full text of the presentation, which is available here: Exit Strategies for COVID-19: An Application of the K-SEIR Model.

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