Can 60 COVID-19 Reports Make a Difference?

Michael Marien, WAAS Fellow; Senior Principal, SSG (Email: mmarien@twcny.rr)

The COVID-19 pandemic has already changed our world. And it is still underway, expected to continue over several years—or longer. Despite some 165 vaccines currently in accelerated development or in early trials, a quick tech fix is unlikely, especially for all nations.

Some countries have been cautiously re-opening after lockdown, but still finding outbreaks. Other countries are facing a sharp upswing in infections, e.g. Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Pakistan, and especially India. In the US, new infections were at a plateau of 40,000 new cases and about 1000 deaths per day in mid-September, nearly twice the number of deaths per week as the total deaths from the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001. And Europe is now “bracing for a second wave of coronavirus…and re-imposed restrictions” (Guardian Weekly, 31 July, p18; also see The Economist, 1 August, p41).

Public health experts have already issued several dozen brief reports on how local, state, and national governments can best deal with the crisis. Economists, political scientists, and journalists are thinking about the profound impacts on security and sustainability of communities, schools and colleges, hospitals, industries (food, airlines, travel), small business (notably restaurants), state and local governments, and international relations. Many individuals are distressed not only by hospitalization and loss of loved ones, but by unemployment, uncertainty, hunger, and quarantined confinement. For example, a third of Americans had signs of clinical anxiety or depression at the end of April. US scientists now have “a pervasive sense of sadness and exhaustion” (New York Times, 30 July, p1). The Times announced that in the US “Virus Wipes Out 5 Years of Economic Growth” (31 July, p1), and that Latin America has been “plunged… into the deepest recession in its history” (30 July, p11).

SSG Report on COVID Reports. The Security & Sustainability Guide is compiling a listing of online COVID-relevant reports, as well as other new evidence-based reports by scientists and other experts on all aspects of security and sustainability. See for the Sept 11 version that briefly annotates 60 reports, while providing links to the original documents and longer “Read More” annotation for many. Nearly all of these reports were published in the April-August 2020 period. More have yet to be identified, and more will be issued, notably by the newly formed Lancet COVID-19 Commission. Most of the reports were published by US-based organizations, although many of them may offer useful guidance for most countries. [Readers of this essay are encouraged to provide information on relevant reports from other countries, especially reports that have made a difference.]

All COVID reports are free online, and are generally brief and clearly written. Publishers include several UN agencies, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Johns

Hopkins Center for Health Security, the University of Minnesota (CIDRAP), the Columbia University Earth Institute (NCDP), the Harvard Global Health Institute, etc. (see Organization Index attached below).

General Topics. The SSG “report on reports” begins with four daily data updates on cases and deaths in countries and US states. This is followed by six items providing scenarios on the course of the virus and impacts on the world and business, including three scenarios on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. [WAAS Fellow Jerome Glenn et al. is preparing three US COVID scenarios to Dec 2021 (due Oct 2020) and a State of the Pandemic Index to Feb 2022 (] General overviews include a March statement by 43 UN organizations on responding to COVID impacts, an April COVID strategy update from WHO, and 13 reports on the difficult task of reopening societies from lockdown, including a remarkable 190-page “Roadmap to Recovery” by some 100 scholars from eight Australian universities.

Specialized Topics. Items include the impact of COVID on US workers (up to a third of jobs may be vulnerable), crisis leadership for the pandemic, effective crisis communication, strategic testing, a tailored approach to contact tracing, a strategic plan for COVID research, a framework for early vaccine allocation and distribution when scarce, the increasing depth and breadth of hunger due to COVID, how pandemics increase inequalities for women and girls, the economic impact in Sub-Saharan Africa, the EC’s proposed major recovery plan for Europe, the C40 Mayors’ Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery, a letter to G-20 leaders from 350 medical organizations and >4500 health professional urging a “healthy recovery” and a healthier society, and a “global women’s appeal” on International Women’s Day urging “Human Security for Public Health, Peace, and Sustainable Development.”

Pre-COVID-19 Warnings. Many reports, briefings, and novels previous to the COVID pandemic have warned of the potential security threat of pandemics. Three still-relevant reports conclude SSG’s initial mapping. The Oct 2019 Global Health Security Index provided 195 country profiles across six categories and 34 indicators, concluding that “national health security is fundamentally weak about the world” and that “no country is fully prepared.” A 2018 report from Harvard describes how to prevent the next pandemic by global monitoring of disease outbreak preparedness. And a 2006 report warns that serious disease outbreaks are becoming more common due to population growth and globalization, with environmental and climate change acting as a “risk multiplier.”

COVID-19 Reports, April-August 2020: Organization Index

– (priority items indicated with an asterisk)

  • American Enterprise Institute 18
  • American Society of Civil Engineers 49
  • Asia Society Policy Institute 17a
  • Atlantic Council Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security 5, 16
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies *4
  • Center for Disease Control (Atlanta) 1, 29
  • CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Univ of Minnesota) *3, 32, 33, 34, 37
  • Economist Intelligence Unit *58
  • European Commission 40, *52
  • Foreign Affairs 17a
  • Foreign Policy 17
  • Georgetown Univ Center for Global Health Science and Security 21
  • Global Challenges Foundation (Stockholm) 15, 50
  • Global Disinformation Index 41
  • Global Mayors’ COVID-19 Recovery Task Force *54
  • Group of Eight Australia *23
  • Harvard Center for Ethics 36
  • Harvard Global Health Institute 36, 59
  • Healthy *55
  • Heritage Foundation 19
  • Indian Institute for Human Settlements (Delhi) *22
  • International Growth Centre (UK) 24, 47
  • IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) 12
  • Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security 18, 20, 26, 27, 38, *42, *58
  • Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center 1
  • Joint Research Centre (European Commission) 40
  • Lancet COVID-19 Commission *11
  • McKinsey & Company 6, 30
  • McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) 39
  • National Center for Disaster Preparedness (Earth Institute, Columbia Univ) 25, 28, *31
  • National Coronavirus Recovery Commission 19
  • NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease; Dr. Anthony Fauci) 43
  • Nuclear Threat Initiative 21, *58
  • Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament 56
  • SDSN Youth 53
  • Sustainable Development Solutions Network 7, 53
  • Swiss Re (Zurich) 60
  • UN Committee for Coordination of Statistical Activities *9
  • UN Dept of Economic and Social Affairs *7 UN Environment Programme 44
  • UNFPA 51
  • UN Sustainable Development Group *10
  • UN World Food Programme 45, 46
  • US Dept of Health and Human Services 35 Wire, The 57
  • World Health Organization (WHO) 1, *14
  • Women Legislators’ Lobby 55
  • World Bank Group 48
  • World Future Council 56
  • World Wildlife Fund 13
  • Worldometer 2

NOTE: New additions to the Sept 11 version of COVID- 19 Reports: What the Experts Expect and Advise will be indicated in the updated Organization Index with lower- case letters after the item number, e.g. 17a.