When is it safe to reopen countries among loose locks? The age of coronavirus is a big issue – and one that is on the minds of many minds around the world. People need an open economy – and jobs – to put food on the table. But they also need safety and health to survive.
For months, countries have been grappling with this question. To complicate matters, public health recommendations on this topic are not readily available, says Nasar Ahmed, professor and founding chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, part of the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work.
Although suggestions are open for reopening, there is little information on when it will reopen.
“There are no published models or guidelines to inform policy on when schools, tourism, entertainment and other sectors should reopen,” Ahmed explains.
To help fill this need, a group of experts and researchers – consisting mainly of FIU professors, students and alumni – developed a data-driven tool to help countries make decisions. about when it should reopen.
The project began with a Zoom group meeting with Abu Shonchoy, a professor of economics at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs. When the pandemic struck, Shonchoy was looking for a way to help scientists and colleagues on the face of the pandemic.
Then, he heard about countries going on locks or enforcing closures as part of a safety warning.
“I was thinking in the back of my mind as an economist If you are shutting down the economy, when are you going to open it? In some countries, a lot of people live hand in hand, and so many people would die of hunger. It is a balancing act between saving lives and living, “he says.
The project was born. Shonchoy began hiring a team of colleagues to share their knowledge.
The interdisciplinary team includes Ahmed, one of the principal investigators working on the project; Shonchoy; FIU Alumnus Sajedul Talukder, who is currently an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Edinboro; FIU Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology Abir Rahman; Farzana Yusuf, FIU computer science student; and Khandker S. Ishtiaq, research faculty member in environmental engineering at FIU.
The team also established a transatlantic collaboration with Cambridge-Oxford group leader Dr Rajiv Chowdhury, an associate professor of global health at Cambridge, who led an outstanding study and helped develop a model that deals with periodic reopening and closure based on detailed hospital information and intensive health facility data.
The group studied trends in countries around the world that appeared to be successfully reopening, collecting and analyzing data and creating a model including public health and economic considerations led to the Large Scale Reopening (LSR) index.
The LSR index provides guidance for reopening any country or region – and is especially valuable for countries with low resources.
Countries with strong economies often have centralized health care systems, Ahmed explains, and usually receive information about hospital beds, ICU statistics and other such data to help determine whether the country can re- handle opening.
However, he said, countries with low resources often do not have centralized systems or means to access these data points. That’s where the LSR index comes in.
Countries only need to know a few data points to use it. This means that deprived regions, developing countries and other low-resource countries will be supported through this index.
Two critical data points are required: daily COVID-19 infection rate and daily recovery rate. According to the team, when the daily infection rate and the daily recovery rate intersect (when they are both equal), that is a crucial point in the process.
If the infection rate continues to fall, countries may be able to reopen safely in about three weeks or at least 20 days.
“The LSR index is simple and feasible,” Ahmed explains. “It’s a flexible package of tools that can be easily adapted for low-middle-income countries.”
Shonchoy adds that while the index is still a work in progress and subject to change as experts learn more about the coronavirus, it is a first step in the right direction.
“This tool will be very useful,” he says. “Even at a local level, if someone is looking to lock down a street or zip code, or for decision makers at the state level, they can use it. It’s a data-driven decision-making process. “
The team has already met commitment from index users. Ahmed and Shonchoy spoke on the index recently at the FIU’s inaugural conference at the Global Health Consortium, and participants from several countries expressed interest in the instrument.
To help increase access to the index, the team plans to release a toolkit available online in the coming weeks that will allow public health officials around the world to submit their data for free and get the index response on the spot.
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Presented by Florida International University
Citation: A new data-driven index could help countries successfully reopen through the pandemic (2020, Dec 17) on 17 Dec 2020 retrieved from https://phys.org/ news / 2020-12-data-driven-index-countries-reopen-successfully .html
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