Mathias Dewatripont, Michel Goldman, Eric Muraille, Jean-Philippe Platteau, 23 March 2020

The first phase of the economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic is already under way with measures that, while costly, are relatively ‘easy’. The second phase – restarting the economy – involves the more challenging task of overcoming people’s fears of contracting the virus from a co-worker. This column describes how a combination of two currently available tests could identify people who are both free from COVID-19 and immune to it, and thus are safe to go back to work. A targeted scaling-up of procedures for both tests will help maintain vital services and accelerate the relaunch of the economy, while minimising the risk of the epidemic recurring after restrictions are lifted.

Michael Kremer, Christopher Snyder, Natalia Drozdoff, 29 January 2016

Many observers believe that pharmaceutical firms prefer to invest in drugs to treat diseases rather than vaccines. This column presents an economic rationale for why such a pattern may emerge for diseases like HIV/AIDS. The population risk of such diseases resembles a Zipf distribution, which makes the shape of the demand curve for a drug more conducive to revenue extraction than for a vaccine. Based on revenue calibrations using US data on HIV risk, the revenue from a drug is about four times greater.

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