Authored by Alex Broadbent, Herkulaas Combrink, Carleigh Krubiner, Benjamin Smart and Damian Walker
How should we evaluate measures taken in response to COVID-19? An early precautionary stance was to act first against an immediate threat, and later work out the evidence-base. Even now, as the UK government considers the range of options for tackling the ongoing outbreak, its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (better known as SAGE) published a summary of the effectiveness and harms of different non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), and concluded that “The evidence base into the effectiveness and harms of these interventions is generally weak. However, the urgency of the situation is such that we cannot wait for better quality evidence before making decisions.” However, many different NPIs—actions apart from taking medicines—have now been tried in a range of global settings, and thus we have the evidential means to begin evaluating them. In this blog we discuss some recent evidence from Africa, and we present some thoughts on how lockdowns can be evaluated, using some of the Bradford Hill “criteria.” While our examples are from Africa, we believe this blog is relevant to ongoing debates globally.
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