In the COVID-19 a large number of non-pharmaceutical measures that pertain to the wider group of social distancing interventions (e.g. public gathering bans, closures of schools, workplaces and all but essential business, mandatory stay-at-home policies, travel restrictions, border closures, and others) have been deployed. Their urgent deployment was defended with modeling and observational data of spurious credibility. There is major debate on whether these measures are effective and there is also uncertainty about the magnitude of the harms that these measures might induce. Given that there is equipoise for how, when, and if specific social distancing interventions for COVID-19 should be applied and removed/modified during reopening, we argue that informative randomized controlled trials are needed. Only a few such randomized trials have already been conducted, but the ones done to-date demonstrate that a randomized trials agenda is feasible. We discuss here issues of study design choice, selection of comparators (intervention and controls), choice of outcomes and additional considerations for the conduct of such trials. We also discuss and refute common counter-arguments against the conduct of such trials.
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