Abstract: Outbreaks of infectious diseases bring behavior and policy responses into sharp focus since societies face acute constraints and uncertainties. This paper compares two infectious disease outbreaks: the Covid-19 pandemic and the 1665 London plague outbreak described by Daniel Defoe in A Journal of the Year of the Plague published in 1722. We compare three aspects: individual behavior, social behavior and governance and find striking similarities in behavior in spite of these events being separated by 350 years. We contend that the same models of behavior can be used to explain human responses during such outbreaks regardless of when they occur.
Jaclyn Yap, Vandana Chaudhry, Chandan Kumar Jha, Subha Mani, and Sophie Mitra, 2020. "Are responses to the pandemic inclusive? A rapid virtual audit of COVID-19 press briefings in LMICs''. World Development, 136: 105122
Abstract: Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic may leave many people behind through a variety of exclusion processes as basic information about the virus and its spread is shared with the public. We conduct a rapid virtual audit of pandemic related press briefings and press conferences issued by governments and international organizations in order to assess if responses have been inclusive to the hearing-impaired communities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We analyze COVID-19 press conferences and press briefings issued during Feb–May 2020, for over 123 LMICs and for international organizations (e.g. the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization (WHO)). Our virtual audit shows that only 65% of countries have a sign language interpreter (SLI) present in COVID-19 press briefings and conferences. This number is smaller in low-income countries (41%) and Sub-Saharan African countries (54%). Surprisingly, none of the international organizations including the WHO has a SLI present during COVID-19 press briefings. We recommend all countries and international organizations to reconsider ways to make press conferences accessible to a wide audience in general, and to the hearing impaired communities in particular by including a SLI during their COVID-19 briefings, a primary step towards upholding the sustainable development pledge of “no one gets left behind.”
Abstract: Homo economicus, the typical economic man, is a rational agent whose goal is to find the optimal solution to any problem. However, this may not be feasible in complex situations like the current global pandemic. We argue that in such environments where Knightian uncertainty plays a big role, the behaviour of countries, sectors of the economy, and individuals may be characterised by procedural rationality. Instead of focusing on the outcome, it is argued that the decision-maker draws upon similar experiences and follows a consistent procedure.