Assessment and Communication of COVID‑19 Barrier Effectiveness
The current proposal describes a unique partnership among Dalhousie University, Memorial University, and the Nova Scotia Health Authority, which utilizes the research team’s significant expertise in hazard analysis and risk assessment and management. Generally speaking, one cannot assess the risk from hazards that have not been thoroughly identified and analyzed. Only then can an effective risk reduction approach be designed to prevent the likelihood of contact with an identified hazard, as well as to mitigate the severity of the consequences arising from unintentional contact. Because not all prevention and mitigation techniques will be of equal effectiveness for a given situation, due consideration to a preferred order of implementation is advisable. Once hazards and health and safety measures have been identified and selected, clear and explicit communication with various at-risk groups is critical in achieving actual reduction of risk to a level deemed tolerable.
With respect to the current pandemic, the coronavirus is the hazard of global concern. The risk of contracting COVID‑19 is driving unprecedented measures worldwide to prevent contact with the virus and to protect against the potentially severe consequences of infection. Against this background, we are proposing the use of two complementary graphical techniques (bowtie analysis and Bayesian network analysis) as well as a systems modeling approach. Research objectives are to identify virus threats and likelihood of infection, evaluate the prevention and mitigation measures (or barriers) currently in place, and explore whether additional measures based on a hierarchical framework might be helpful for specific groups such as healthcare workers (among others). Additional research goals consist of efficient and straightforward communication of the project findings, and provision of guidance for making risk-based decisions on the selection of the most effective safety measures (barriers) for various scenarios. The proposed project therefore has significant potential to aid both the technical science and the social communication aspects of COVID‑19 research.