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Taking the “panic” out of pandemic

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world have had to implement public health policies that would limit the virus from spreading. How can they take into account people’s behavior to implement policies strategically?

Guangwen Kong finds that social distancing policies are more important in the period after the peak of infections, when people are more likely to abandon precautions. Furthermore, Kong finds that distributing vaccines to older people before younger people reduces rates of infections and deaths, but should be accompanied with more strict social distancing policies.

Kong suggests that policymakers include people’s behavioral responses in their public safety modeling to achieve the twin aims of minimizing spread of the virus and limiting the accompanying socioeconomic costs of public health policies.