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Halfway there? Covid policy trade-offs

21 December 2020

What do we know about policy trade-offs that could inform the Government's pandemic approach in 2021?

Governments around the world are grappling with the question of how tightly to manage the spread of Covid-19 while sustaining economies and preserving public licence for ongoing or renewed containment measures.

Apparent short-term trade-offs between saving lives and sacrificing the economy give way to the possibility of longer-term trade-offs between saving lives from the virus and the wider health and wellbeing impacts of worsening economies. Likewise, as containment measures such as quarantining, contact tracing and physical distancing lower transmission rates, and improved treatments lead to reduced mortality, the trade-offs at the early stages of the pandemic differ to from those confronted now.

Dave Heatley from the Productivity Commission (author of A cost benefit analysis of 5 extra days at COVID-19 alert level 4offered his perspectives on these trade-offs at a seminar last week run by Russell McVeagh and the Law & Economics Association of New Zealand. Dr Martin Lally (author of The costs and benefits of a Covid-19 lockdown) also provided comment.

A copy of the presentations are now available here:

For more perspectives on covid-policy, the Commission has a Pandemic-economics blog. Read the blog and feel free to comment on posts.