Special Edition  |  COVID-19 Update  |  April 24, 2020
In Prayagraj, India, people maintain safe distance while awaiting free rations. (Prabhat Kumar Verma / istockPhoto)


Building tools to tackle COVID-19 in developing countries

Scholars at the Center for International Development (CID), based at Harvard Kennedy School, have made the case since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic that poorer countries are being hit hardest and are likely to suffer the most. The CID team has declared this challenge to be a call to action and has responded with the CID COVID-19 Response and Resource Page, which compiles funding information for pandemic-related research; provides tools for faculty and doctoral students to share their virus work; and connects researchers and policymakers. Professor Asim I. Khwaja, the CID director, and faculty colleagues Rema Hanna, Matt Andrews, Ricardo Hausmann, and Dani Rodrik are among those engaged in research on COVID-19’s impact on poorer countries. The Growth Lab, a CID program led by Hausmann, has launched a COVID-19 Task Force to support public leaders and analysts around the world by modeling the pandemic at the national level and offering guidance on policy decisions on both economic and epidemiological fronts.


HKS students help hospitals improve operations

Harvard Kennedy School Lecturer Mark Fagan, an authority on operations management, got a request from a local hospital in mid-March. Could he help the hospital think about how to coordinate the work schedules of 300 medical professionals as the pandemic surged? The hospital needed to assign doctors and nurses to wards based on factors including experience, capabilities and work hours, using advanced analytics. Fagan turned to the HKS students in his public service supply chain management course. About 10 of them jumped in—during spring break—and others students volunteered to help. They developed the dynamic scheduling tool the hospital needed, and it was tested and in use by early April. Fagan reached out to other contacts in governments and health care to offer similar support. Within days he set up several supply chain projects involving his students, from one on telemedicine services to another on blood plasma donation collections. Students say they benefit from the real-world, real-time learning in the course. And Fagan says the students have handled the pressure with aplomb.


New HKS misinformation journal shares two studies on pandemic impact

A journal published by Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy has just released two studies assessing information aspects of the coronavirus pandemic. One paper reports on a national survey of reader knowledge of COVID-19, including its lethality and protection methods: the study finds that watching mainstream news media correlated with a more accurate grasp of the facts of the pandemic, and watching right-wing media correlated with conspiracy theories and believing that authorities were exaggerating the virus threat. Another study examines what the authors call the mis- and disinformation campaign led by COVID-19-denialists in Brazil. The HKS Misinformation Review was launched in January to make peer-reviewed studies on the fast-changing field of misinformation available online quickly. The journal’s co-editors are Professor Matthew Baum, the principal investigator, and adjunct lecturer Joan Donovan, who also leads the Shorenstein Center’s Technology and Social Change Research Project.



Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem, interviewed on PBS TV’s Frontline special



To the extent that female heads of state are performing better than men against the coronavirus crisis, it’s likely because women are expected to be—and have learned to be—more democratic leaders, more collaborative and more compassionate communicators.

Zoe Marks, lecturer in public policy, in the Washington Post



On PolicyCast: “When discrimination and a pandemic collide,” Professor of Practice Cornell William Brooks


  • Two errors our minds make when trying to grasp the pandemic [Arthur Brooks] The Atlantic

  • Target R and wait for the vaccine [Ricardo Hausmann] Project Syndicate

  • Using tech to combat the coronavirus [Steve Kelman] FCW

  • Financial doomsday: State, local governments face layoffs, service cuts, projects derailed [Linda Bilmes] NBC News

  • How do you know voting by mail works? The U.S. military's done it since the Civil War. [Alex Keyssar] NBC News

  • So do morals matter in U.S. foreign policy? I asked the expert. [Joseph Nye] Washington Post

  • COVID-19: Key takeaways for digital teams [David Eaves] Apolitical

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