Health economics

Emanuel Ornelas, 28 March 2020

Countries worldwide are implementing lockdown measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Very soon, the question will be how to lift the lockdowns while keeping the epidemic in check. This column uses basic economic principles to shed light on the key trade-offs. A central message is that there is no ‘health versus economics’ dichotomy. Rather, some degree of lockdown is typically optimal in a crisis like this, balancing economic costs against health benefits. Moreover, the optimal level of lockdown is dynamic, changing over time and eventually becoming more lenient.

Andrea Galeotti, Paolo Surico, 27 March 2020

The fight against COVID-19 is lacking two important weapons: full awareness of populations (especially carriers) and knowledge of the individual traits that are most likely to identify a carrier. This column introduces a ‘user guide to COVID-19’ – a package of resources which offer a narrative of events and present the trade-offs inherent in any policy option. It also appeals for more data collection and statistical analyses.

Richard Baldwin, 26 March 2020

The economic and medical fight against COVID-19 are linked, as Mathias Dewatripont and a team of virologist pointed out on VoxEU recently. The linchpin is testing. This column argues that testing is critical to (1) reducing the economic pain of the current COVID-19 wave, and (2) reducing the pain of the second wave that some epidemiologists are expecting. The US and Europe should be investing massively in testing capacity.

Anniek de Ruijter, Roel Beetsma, Brian Burgoon, Francesco Nicoli, Frank Vandenbroucke, 26 March 2020

An initiative to create centralised control of medical countermeasures at the EU level would solve many coordination issues in times of crisis. However, a unified European response faces a number of legal and political obstacles. This column uses a survey conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak to understand EU citizens’ attitudes towards a joint solidarity programme. It suggests considerable support already exists for an effective policy framework centralising the procurement, stockpiling, and allocation of medicines. 

Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 23 March 2020

How can euro area countries work together to protect their economies? A diverse group of economists has suggested the creation of an emergency Covid credit line. CEPR President Beatrice Weder di Mauro tells Tim Phillips how it would work.

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