Integrating such ample evidence in real-time is fraught with difficulties, but related streams of work like disaster management have already documented some of them, for example, exploring evacuation practices for vulnerable populations during man-made and natural disasters (e.g., during the 2011 nuclear incident at Fukushima, Japan). The best course of action at the time remains controversial even in hindsight as research findings can be difficult to reconcile. While a number of studies found evacuated nursing home residents actually suffered higher mortality than those who sheltered in place, there is conflicting evidence about the conditions in which evacuation may be preferable, including those related to staff capacity for supporting non-evacuation strategies, conditions of the evacuation site, and baseline characteristics of the population.
While these studies are still too few to be conclusive, they offer valuable lessons and experiences for how to gather evidence and test hypotheses for different approaches, an essential tool if outbreak decision-making is to improve. Similarly, research into adverse effects of different response strategies on other areas like schooling, manufacturing, trade, etc. will provide the broader much-needed information for multisectoral epidemic response efforts and optimal approaches given the looming global financial crisis.