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COVID-19: Governments should introduce RATIONING to prevent panic in future pandemics, experts said

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Governments should introduce RATIONING to prevent panic buying of groceries and electronics in future pandemics, researchers suggest

  • Researchers from Durham modelled the impact of pandemics on key markets
  • These included groceries, electronic goods, clothing and automotive products
  • They found that earlier lockdowns lead to higher excess demands for key items
  • Governments should stockpile essentials before lockdown to ensure supply
  • If this is not possible, the team said, rationing measures would be effective

To prevent panic buying of groceries and electronics during future pandemics, governments should introduce rationing measures, researchers have argued.

Management experts from Durham University modelled the impact of pandemic events like COVID-19 on critical consumer markets like groceries and clothing.

They concluded that the demand for key goods like groceries is higher the earlier that lockdown measures are instigated.

Accordingly, they recommend that governments should stockpile essentials before lockdown to ensure supply — and introduce rationing if such is not possible. 

To prevent panic buying of groceries and electronics during future pandemics, governments should introduce rationing measures, researchers have argued. Pictured, a WW2 ration book

To prevent panic buying of groceries and electronics during future pandemics, governments should introduce rationing measures, researchers have argued. Pictured, a WW2 ration book

‘We cannot ignore that the progression of COVID-19 across countries drives changes in immediate needs and consumer behaviour — for example, panic buying and overstocking at home,’ said Durham management expert Christos Tsinopoulos.

‘Such changes put an enormous strain to the respective supply chains. For instance, when consumers start panic buying dry pasta, eventually, the whole supply chain involving eggs, flour, wheat, is affected.’

‘Therefore, forecasting becomes essential for effective governmental decision making, for managing supply chain resources and for informing very difficult political decisions as, for example, imposing a lockdown or curfews.’

‘Yet forecasting the evolution of the pandemic i.e. the growth in the number of cases per country, is a complex task, partly because of the limited history of pandemic data,’ he explained. 

In their study, Professor Tsinopoulos and colleagues compared various forecasting models — including those based on statistical analysis, machine learning and deep learning — to predict the growth of COVID-19 cases. 

They used data collected from across the UK, the US, Germany, India and Singapore — and, from their modelling, determined the impact developing pandemics and control measures like lockdowns have on global supply chains at the country level.

In particular, the team considered various critical consumer markets — including those of groceries, electronics, automotive products and clothing. 

The researchers confirmed that pandemics lead to a significant increase in demand for both groceries, pictured, and electronic goods — while calls for motor vehicles decline

The researchers confirmed that pandemics lead to a significant increase in demand for both groceries, pictured, and electronic goods — while calls for motor vehicles decline

The researchers confirmed that pandemics lead to a significant increase in demand for both groceries and electronic goods — while calls for motor vehicles decline.

However, the team’s modelling also revealed that excess demand for groceries is higher the earlier lockdown measures are imposed.

Based on this, the researchers have suggested that governments should work to secure surpluses of essential products before lockdown — and, where such is not possible, consider implementing more radical interventions like rationing.

The full findings of the study will be published in the European Journal of Operational Research.

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