Looking through the Lens of Risk Management at COVID-19

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Vik Muktavaram applies a few principles of risk management to understand why COVID-19 grew from a risk to a pandemic. 

As the federal government finally took the first decisive step in stemming the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, the images of serpentine lines of arriving international passengers at airports waiting for immigration and screening for COVID-19 coronavirus ubiquitous online and in print. Presumably, the rationale for the screening was that these arriving passengers represented a high-risk cohort. Yet, the long, crowded lines with no social distancing not only defeats the very purpose of screening but in fact, one could argue that the risk of spreading is increased substantially amongst the ground staff as well as passengers from different airlines. 

As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we should also be wondering how did we miss this when all the signs were there. How did some countries such as Singapore and South Korea manage to contain, if not necessarily prevent, the spread of virus in their countries despite their proximity to China? Risk Management is a structured way of looking at early indicators and prioritizing risks and then managing these risks. As our crisis response continues to be a case study in “how not to”, let’s take a step back to see how the risk (low likelihood, high impact) of a virus-pandemic became a crisis. Mind you, this was not a black swan event. Even as early as 2015, Ebola outbreak provided a harbinger of things to come. Before there is a war, there is a failure of diplomacy, before there is a bankruptcy, there are telltale signs of declining sales, before COVID-19 became a pandemic there was Wuhan and there were several emerging risk indicators.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Risk transfer
  • Risk acceptance
  • Risk avoidance
  • Risk mitigation

 

Read the full article, COVID-19 pandemic – How a risk became a crisis in the US, on the Rithym Advisors website.