A new article by the Goethe University Frankfurt (GUF) and Centre of European Policy Studies (CEPS) has been launched in Economics of Disasters and Climate Change "Lockdowns and the US Unemployment Crisis"
The rapid spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) confronts policy makers with the problem of measuring the effectiveness of containment strategies, balancing public health considerations with the economic costs of social distancing measures. We introduce a modified epidemic model that we name the controlled-SIR model, in which the disease reproduction rate evolves dynamically in response to political and societal reactions. An analytic solution is presented. The model reproduces official COVID-19 cases counts of a large number of regions and countries that surpassed the first peak of the outbreak. A single unbiased feedback parameter is extracted from field data and used to formulate an index that measures the efficiency of containment strategies (the CEI index). CEI values for a range of countries are given. For two variants of the controlled-SIR model, detailed estimates of the total medical and socio-economic costs are evaluated over the entire course of the epidemic. Costs comprise medical care cost, the economic cost of social distancing, as well as the economic value of lives saved. Under plausible parameters, strict measures fare better than a hands-off policy. Strategies based on current case numbers lead to substantially higher total costs than strategies based on the overall history of the epidemic.
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