Too often, reopening the economy after the lockdown is presented as a trade off between economic prosperity and deaths. That is misleading. Experience in Italy, Sweden and the US demonstrates that efforts to maintain production will not succeed if they result in overwhelmed communities and hospitals.

Instead of cost-benefit analyses, we need risk-management techniques. In this frame, the core challenge is how best to manage the risk of contagion. Lockdowns work by eliminating human interactions on a national scale. The question is whether SA can design and implement equally successful measures that impose less economic and human pain...

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