Home > knowledge transfer, media, news > If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about a GIF alert with 12 frames on the evolution of COVID-19?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about a GIF alert with 12 frames on the evolution of COVID-19?

March 26, 2020

This blog post on the COVID-19 crisis aims to provide timely evidence-based alerts and sound advice to multiple stakeholders. 

In the last few days, many of us have been locked in our own disbelief for the lack of adequate and timely actions from key actors such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), and many other (inter)governmental organisations. I have been reading BBC News and other mainstream media everyday since the first case was reported. However, it was really surprising to see Italy asking and receiving help from Russia, China and Cuba, while at the same time European media outlets (except Italian) decided to suppress what can only be seen as humanitarian and lifesaving actions, regardless of who is actually behind them.

My frustration for the lack of trustworthy information drove me to make my own analysis of the situation based on freely and publicly available data about the most difficult to manipulate and closest to the reality figures, i.e. number of deaths and the weekly death rate. Thus I am grateful for the almost real time work carried out by people at WHO producing the Situation Reports (as provided by national authorities), as well as the OECD Artificial Intelligence Policy Observatory and an interactive web-based dashboard hosted by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. Of course, it is important to have a panoramic overview of the number of confirmed cases, but the truth is that these figures are definitely not reflecting the reality on the ground for several reasons, including lack of tests, different diagnostic and case confirmation definitions, and the quarantine itself, to name a few. Having said so, knowing the weekly death rate and the number of officially confirmed cases is enough to recognise the situation is not under control (except for China and South Korea, with 0,02 and 0,62 most recent weekly death rate respectively).

The animated GIF image below includes 12 frames showing in 3 minutes the timeline of the the COVID-19 evolution, with highlights from decisions and actions that were often not (or wrongly) taken. The last frame offers some recommendations for civil society, government, business, and research and education actors.

COVID19_GIFT_Alert_in_3_min

With all of the above in mind, and following recent reflections I shared in LinkedIn and Twitter, I strongly believed that now more than ever policy analysts, scientists and foresight practitioners should raise their voice and reach out to their networks so as to mobilise a critical mass capable of alerting policymakers about the urgent need to upgrade (sometimes ‘old but still gold’) future-driven recommendations into practical and transformational policy actions and priorities.

In the foresight and innovation research community, some of us are trying to raise awareness with the help of specialised and responsible media in Finland, such as Tekniikka&Talous, and we hope that this kind of blog posts in professional social networking platforms will help us reach out to beyond-the-obvious audiences in business, policy, and other circles. Collective and timely actions can play a key role in taming wild cards such as the unexpected and impactful consequences of the current Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

If you would like to look at the frames in detail and have more time to see the evolution of the pandemic and early (lack of) response, please feel free to use and/or circulate the images below.

 

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