“One of the impediments to designing sustainable policy solutions to contain the damage from COVID has been the assumption that people have an accurate estimate of risk. Behavioral research has repeatedly illustrated how people generally miscalculate risks—especially when they are influenced by fear. This is why transparency, and the right incentives should form the core elements of any sustainable policy for the next phase of COVID response.
“In late July, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its mask guidance, recommending vaccinated people mask up indoors in areas with high infection transmission rates. This policy was a sharp reversal of its initial recommendation two months earlier. Masks remain an important tool in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus, especially during a surge in infections and in high-risk situations; however, having people look up the areas of transmission for making the decision is not a feasible solution for most. Masking guidelines have also been severely politicized, taking the attention away from a more urgent intervention: vaccines.”