CME: Reducing the number of daily infections is not enough

PETALING JAYA (June 14): A comprehensive approach needed in containing the spread of Covid-19 and ensure economic growth, said Center for Market Education (CME) CEO Carmelo Ferlito (pictured).

“The reduction of the number of daily infections cannot be a strategy per se, when we aim to go back to a normal life and to avoid further damages in terms of unemployment, GDP losses and prolonged stagnation,” he said in a media statement today.

The economist raised the concern after senior minister for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government would review the need to continue or relax the total lockdown SOPs under the movement control order if the daily infections drop to below 4,000 cases.

The number of daily infections is a very questionable target and can easily be manipulated by playing with the number or the target of tests, said Ferlito.

“We need something much more comprehensive, otherwise, by taking into account only daily infections, we will again have growing cases after restrictions are eased, and the government once again will have nothing better to offer than lockdowns,

We need much more than this, the country cannot survive another year under these conditions. The poor will suffer in a way that we cannot even imagine,” he added.

Instead of looking at the number of daily cases, Ferlito suggested the government to focus on minimizing R0 via lockdowns that can only prolong the time taken by the pandemic to become endemic. 

“Our target should not be to minimize infections, but to increase them in a targeted way, allowing the strongest part of the population to develop targeted immunity, while the most vulnerable are protected with ad-hoc initiatives and home-care strategies,” he added.

He also stressed that there’s urgent needs for pharmaceutical research for effective treatments that need to be enhanced.

For economic recovery, Ferilito said a new social pact is needed, based on mass, frequent and affordable testing, for instance businesses will have to commit to test their staff on a weekly basis.

“On the other side, when mass, frequent and affordable testing is introduced, the government should commit to leave businesses to operate and to make their testing expenses tax deductible,” he explained.

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