COVID-19 represents not only one of the greatest natural and economic disasters in human history, but also a rich case study of government’s emergency response. As such, it is a test bed for risk research and regulatory theories in a world increasingly shaped by transboundary, uncertain manufactured and natural risks. While it is obviously too early to come to definitive conclusions, the contributions collected – in record-time – in this special issue of the European Journal of Risk Regulation attempt at providing an initial analysis of the surprisingly uncoordinated, at times unscientific, response to an essentially foreseeable event like a novel coronavirus (nCoV) in a geopolitically shattered world.
Due to the temporal proximity of the research to the events studied, the contributions to this special issue – although subject to peer-review – rely on a unique, unconventional mix of academic sources and journalistic reporting. As such, they represent an illustration, albeit modest, of “action research”. This is a form of research that unfolds along the events it studies and which may help the practitioner, all the more so in a situation of emergency. Action research carries its own epistemic risk—the risk of error versus the risk of missing the truth. By accepting the invitation to contribute to this collection in the present, unfolding circumstances of a major, uniquely complex event, each and every author showed an unprecedented readiness to take such a risk. This takes courage. It needs courage as Plato defines it. It needs the best of what the best among us can give, and the help of everybody.
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