Policymaking in uncertain times: Smart containment with active learning

Policies to address the COVID-19 pandemic are being implemented with very limited information. There is already some evidence, however, that the longer lockdowns last, the more likely the economic and non-COVID-19 health impact of the lockdowns could outweigh the potential health impacts of the virus for some countries. Rethinking the way countries undertake policymaking in the face of this substantial uncertainty is needed.

This brief outlines a framework for COVID-19 containment strategies for a targeted, localised, and dynamic approach in developing countries that uses real-time testing and refinement of policy responses. Importantly, the framework can and should be adapted as more information becomes available to better enact policies during this pandemic that improve health outcomes whilst reducing economic burdens.