Public Policy in a Pandemic: A Hazard-Control Perspective and a Case Study of the BCG Vaccine for COVID-19

Public Policy in a Pandemic: A Hazard-Control Perspective and a Case Study of the BCG Vaccine for COVID-19

Table of Contents


The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in China in Dec 2019, quickly spreading to other parts of the world leading to a global pandemic. A number of potential interventions and treatments are being considered. However, in the midst of a pandemic, much early reporting can contain misleading and contradictory data. Thus, reliable information and reasoned perspectives by decision-makers must be attained to minimize the pandemic’s current impact, as well as the impact in the likely second wave in the ‘flu season of 2020-2021. One potential treatment is the use of booster doses of the BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine; this vaccine is mandatory at birth in many lower-income nations. In this paper, using widely available and reliable data, the relationship of per-capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and the BCG vaccine’s use on the impact of the virus is studied via statistical models. A strong association is seen between lower per-capita GDP and lower impact. Further, a lower impact is witnessed in countries where the BCG vaccine is mandatory at birth, which suggests that clinical trials need to occur to determine the vaccine’s efficacy. Perspectives in safety and risk mitigation needed for the management of pandemics and similar events are also provided.

  • Author Keywords

    • COVID-19,
    • Contact Tracing,
    • Privacy,
    • Safety,
    • Apps
  • IEEE Keywords

    • Privacy,
    • Protocols,
    • Government,
    • Vaccines,
    • Viruses (medical),
    • Diseases,
    • Sensors


THECOVID-19 pandemic has emerged from a coronavirus that has the ability to spread rapidly across the world. The virus was first detected in China in Dec, 2019. Many factors potentially play a significant role in how quickly diseases spread, e.g., the overall health of populations, history of vaccinations, the average age of the population, ventilation of homes, and social and cultural differences, to name a few. Governmental response to the pandemic has varied across countries, especially in its early stages. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of confusing and contradictory information available to strategic decision-makers in this time. Many measures, typically known as “interventions” have been commonly recommended to control the spread and reduce the loss of life: testing and tracing, quarantining of sick patients, social distancing, and use of masks [1]. However, there are significant issues related to these measures. First, reliable tests have been difficult to produce for coronaviruses in general with high rates of false negatives and positives [2]. Second, data are hard to find for the impact of these interventions. Different from “interventions,” exist potential “treatments,” which are being examined in many countries. Some of these include (i) the development of a vaccine for the specific coronavirus strains discovered, (ii) plasma therapy, (iii) a link between the BCG (BacilleCalmette-Guerin) vaccine and increased immunity to COVID-19, (iv) the drug Remdesivir, and (v) the drug hydroxy-chloroquine. Determining the efficacy of these treatments will require time-consuming medical studies, but any potential link between the BCG vaccine and reduced fatality rates can be performed from existing data, as the BCG vaccine has been mandatory in many nations and data for spreading and fatality rates are available from those nations as well. The BCG vaccine is for tuberculosis (TB), and since TB has been eradicated from many countries, TB vaccines have been discontinued in many of those countries. However, the TB vaccine is still mandatory in some countries where TB has all but disappeared [3]. The BCG vaccine appears to have produced strikingly different results in the number of casualties between two neighboring countries with vast similarities: Spain and Portugal [4]. The other aspect that government agencies take into account is healthcare spending, which is typically higher in more developed nations. Poorer nations often do not have the infrastructure to control a pandemic. In general, decision-makers in more affluent nations tend to have access to a wider variety of resources to tackle public-health issues and control hazards in shorter time intervals. Therefore, intuition suggests that higher per-capita GDP should lead to a stronger ability of a nation to fight infectious disease. However, it is necessary o conduct a statistical study before a definitive conclusion can be arrived at. Thus, statistically verified information should provide immense value to decision-makers. A rigorous statistical analysis on the effect of the BCG vaccine and per-capita GDP spending on the impact has not been carried out in the literature to the best of the knowledge of these authors. This paper performs a regression-based analysis that seeks to fill this gap in the literature. A significant advantage of developing a model is that it can ascertain in a statistical sense whether a given factor produces an impact. Further, statistical models can also provide a deeper understanding of the underlying critical factors in this pandemic. It needs to be emphasized that statistical models of the kind studied in this paper can only indicate potential relationships; in order to determine the efficacy of the vaccine, clinical (medical) trials need to occur. The paper also provides a so-called hazard-control perspective for pandemic control that can help governments make more informed strategic decisions and thereby reduce the loss of life. Mitigation measures need to be implemented without loss of time, as the virus is likely to make a comeback in Fall, 2020, and as such, there is not much time remaining.


The overarching goal of this work was to provide a fundamental hazard-control risk perspective to decision-makers and those advising decision-makers in pandemic management. In light of the often-contradictory information available to decision-makers, this paper conducted a statistical analysis of reliable data to develop insights that should help in making informed decisions. A significant effort is being devoted in the literature to developing simulation models that can help predict the spread index in case lockdown and other measures currently adopted are eliminated. In this paper, a different aspect of this pandemic was studied. The analysis showed that the fatality rates seem to be higher in nations with higher income (per-capita GDP) levels, which indicates that there is no room for complacency in dealing with this virus. The research further showed a statistical link between the BCG vaccine, mandatory in lower-income nations, and a lower spread and fatality indexes; this does not prove that the vaccine may be effective but it indicates that phased clinical (medical) trials may help determine its efficacy. A general conclusion from this work is that outside-the-box thinking and engaging with protocols of hazard control at the source, e.g., existing vaccines discontinued in some parts of the world may also be necessary to control the pandemic.

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FULL Paper PDF file:

COVID-19 Mobile Contact Tracing Apps (MCTA): A Digital Vaccine or a Privacy Demolition?



D. Zeinalipour-Yazti and C. Claramunt,




COVID-19 Mobile Contact Tracing Apps (MCTA): A Digital Vaccine or a Privacy Demolition?

Publish in

2020 21st IEEE International Conference on Mobile Data Management (MDM), Versailles, France, 2020, pp. 1-4,



PDF reference and original file: Click here

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Somayeh Nosrati was born in 1982 in Tehran. She holds a Master's degree in artificial intelligence from Khatam University of Tehran.

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Professor Siavosh Kaviani was born in 1961 in Tehran. He had a professorship. He holds a Ph.D. in Software Engineering from the QL University of Software Development Methodology and an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Chelsea.

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Nasim Gazerani was born in 1983 in Arak. She holds a Master's degree in Software Engineering from UM University of Malaysia.