Special Covid-19 Series, Issue #25

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Data: 22-02-2021




Hello, Action Institute Community!


While the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting the global economy, we at Action Institute aim at delivering a whole-rounded perspective, cutting through the noise.


Our weekly Special series approaches the effects of the virus from different perspectives: from medical facts to health policy, from economic policy to macroeconomic issues, from politics to financial markets, from technology to the impact on businesses, and more. We encourage our esteemed readers to provide us with feedback and suggestions.


This weekly issue proposes a selection of papers and articles focused on (i) Technology and (ii) Politics, Institutions and International Policy.



“Technology is a word that describes something that doesn’t work yet.”, Douglas Adams

 “AIs that read sentences can also spot virus mutations” (MIT Tech, Will Douglas Heaven, January 14th, 2021). Natural-language processing (NLP) algorithms designed for words and sentences can also be used to interpret genetic changes in viruses – speeding up lab work to spot new variants. The key insight making this possible is that many properties of biological systems can be interpreted in terms of language.

 “How our outdated privacy laws doomed contact-tracing apps” (Brookings, Jessica Rich, January 28th, 2021). The author points out why contact tracing apps while having mixed success in the rest of the world, failed miserably in the US. The main reason for the rejection of the app by Americans were concerns about privacy and the treatment of their data, a matter not uniformly regulated throughout the US.

 “The COVID-19 Pandemic and Trends in Technology” (Chatham House, Joyce Hakmeh, Emily Taylor, Allison Peters, Sophia Ignatidou, February 16th, 2021). As COVID-19 is considered the “great accelerator” of digital transformation, this paper focuses on the dynamics between governments and big tech, cybercrime and disinformation in order to examine some of the risks that have aggravated as societies have sped up digitalisation.



“Just because you do not take an interest in politics, it doesn’t mean that politics won’t take an interest in you.”, Pericles 
 “Wealthy Countries Should Share Vaccine Doses Before It Is Too Late” (Foreign Affairs, Lawrence O. Gostin, Eric A. Friedman, Suerie Moon, January 19th, 2021). The authors argue that rich countries have a moral obligation to share their vaccine supplies with poorer countries. It is also in their own interest to do so, as broad vaccination is indispensable for global economic recovery.

 “WHO Mission Finds COVID-19 Is ‘Extremely Unlikely’ to Have Originated from Wuhan Lab” (Time, Emily Wang Fujiyama, February 9th, 2021). This article explains the motives behind the conclusions drawn by the team of international and Chinese scientists which went to Wuhan in search of the origins of COVID-19.

 “Preparing for the next pandemic: Early lessons from COVID-19” (Brookings, Dante Disparte, February 16th, 2021). This article highlights seven lessons from our COVID-19 response to improve readiness for future pandemic shocks. It portrays how the restoration of institutional trust, the adoption of a threat-based resource allocation and the enforcement of privacy preserving technology, together with other factors, could improve readiness for future pandemic shocks.

 “Government architecture and the sense of government unpreparedness during the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy” (, Massimiliano Ferraresi, Gianluca Gucciardi, February 12th, 2021). This column examines the change in policy decisions induced by the pandemic that led to centralised decision-making in Italy. Using an indicator of local governance approval, it investigates the difference between cities politically aligned and non-aligned with the central government before the pandemic, when municipalities enjoyed the usual discretion in policy decisions, and after the COVID-19 outbreak, when decisions were centralised. (Questo articolo prende in esame i cambiamenti introdotti dalla pandemia che hanno condotto ad una centralizzazione dei processi decisionali in Italia. Utilizzando un indicatore che stima il grado di approvazione verso i governi locali si investiga la differenza tra città politicamente allineate con il governo centrale e non allineate, prima e dopo la pandemia.)


Let me remind you that credit is the lifeblood of business, the lifeblood of prices and jobs.

Herbert Hoover […]


Good health is essential to social and economical development and it empowers all of the public sectors.

World Health Organization […]


Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.

Peter Drucker […]

Human Capital

Talent is a source from which water flows constantly renewed. But this source loses its value unless it is properly used.

Ludwig Wittgenstein […]