Best COVID-19 strategy is strong suppression health-wise and economy-wise

April 26, 2020

Martin Wolf's article:

The (Imperial College London) paper analyses four sorts of costs: the costs of lost lives; the lost work days of the sick; the medical costs associated with higher incidence of disease; and the costs (primarily economic) of social distancing, both officially imposed and spontaneous. The overall conclusion is overwhelming. The least costly option is strong suppression: it saves lives, massively reduces medical costs and even lowers the economic costs of social distancing over the course of the epidemic.

 

This is taken from this part of Martin Wolf's 24/4/20 article:

These strategies are related to “mitigation” and “suppression”, as discussed in an influential paper from Imperial College London (https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf ). In the UK political debate, they correspond to reopening when the reproduction rate of the disease is close to one (a constant rate of infection, at its peak rate) or when the rate is close to zero (which implies near elimination).

 

The paper analyses four sorts of costs: the costs of lost lives; the lost work days of the sick; the medical costs associated with higher incidence of disease; and the costs (primarily economic) of social distancing, both officially imposed and spontaneous. The overall conclusion is overwhelming. The least costly option is strong suppression: it saves lives, massively reduces medical costs and even lowers the economic costs of social distancing over the course of the epidemic.

This lower overall economic cost flows from there being a smaller and thus more manageable prevalence of the disease in the population. Provided there are well-established systems for testing, tracing and quarantining the relatively small number of new cases, people will then go out freely, and there will be no risk of further shutdowns. This would not be true if the disease was still widespread and likely to resurge.

 

 

 

 

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