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Responding to COVID-19: Priorities Now and Preparing for the Future

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What have we done so far and what are some of the early lessons? Some thoughts on these two vital questions follow.

The crisis now The COVID-19 crisis is the largest shock to the global economy since the 2008–09 global financial crisis, maybe since the Great Depression of the early 1930s. To avoid overwhelming their health care systems, governments have sought to slow down the spread of the virus by implementing various suppression policies. They have made the case that social distancing measures are central to these efforts, as shown by the recent experience of Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, where various combinations of lockdowns, testing and contact tracing appear to have slowed down the rate of infections. The shocks to the economy have been multiple and mutually reinforcing. Business closures, travel bans and other transportation disruptions have undermined consumer spending and business confidence and could lead to a sharp increase in bankruptcies. Dismissals, layoffs, shortened work…