Leonardo J. Basso , Marcel Goic , Marcelo Olivares , Denis Sauré , Charles Thraves , Aldo Carranza, Gabriel Y. Weintraub, Julio Covarrubia, Cristian Escobedo, Natalia Jara, Antonio Moreno, Demian Arancibia , Manuel Fuenzalida , Juan Pablo Uribe, Felipe Zúñiga, Marcela Zúñiga, Miguel O’Ryan , Emilio Santelices, Juan Pablo Torres , Magdalena Badal, Mirko Bozanic, Sebastián Cancino-Espinoza, Eduardo Lara, Ignasi Neira
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Chilean Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Sciences, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation partnered with the Instituto Sistemas Complejos de Ingeniería (ISCI) and the telecommunications company ENTEL, to develop innovative methodologies and tools that placed operations research (OR) and analytics at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic. These innovations have been used in key decision aspects that helped shape a comprehensive strategy against the virus, including tools that (1) provided data on the actual effects of lockdowns in different municipalities and over time; (2) helped allocate limited intensive care unit (ICU) capacity; (3) significantly increased the testing capacity and provided on-the-ground strategies for active screening of asymptomatic cases; and (4) implemented a nationwide serology surveillance program that significantly influenced Chile’s decisions regarding vaccine booster doses and that also provided information of global relevance. Significant challenges during the execution of the project included the coordination of large teams of engineers, data scientists, and healthcare professionals in the field; the effective communication of information to the population; and the handling and use of sensitive data. The initiatives generated significant press coverage and, by providing scientific evidence supporting the decision making behind the Chilean strategy to address the pandemic, they helped provide transparency and objectivity to decision makers and the general population. According to highly conservative estimates, the number of lives saved by all the initiatives combined is close to 3,000, equivalent to more than 5% of the total death toll in Chile associated with the pandemic until January 2022. The saved resources associated with testing, ICU beds, and working days amount to more than 300 million USD.