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Assessing the Optimality of a COVID Lockdown in the United States

Anna Scherbina ()
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Anna Scherbina: Brandeis University

Economics of Disasters and Climate Change, 2021, vol. 5, issue 2, No 2, 177-201

Abstract: Abstract Though COVID vaccines have been available since December 2020, the rate at which they are administered remains slow, and in the meantime the pandemic continues to claim about as many lives every day as the 9/11 tragedy. I estimate that with the promised rate of vaccinations, if no additional non-pharmaceutical interventions are implemented, 203 thousand additional lives will be lost and the future cost of the pandemic will reach $1.3 trillion, or 6% of GDP. Using a cost-benefit analysis, I assess whether it is optimal for the United States to follow the lead of many European countries and introduce a nation-wide lockdown. I find that a lockdown would be indeed optimal and, depending on the assumptions, it should last between two and four weeks and will generate a net benefit of up to $653 billion.

Keywords: COVID-19; Pandemic curve; Cost-benefit analysis; Non-pharmaceutical interventions; Public health policy; Lockdown; Vaccinations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I10 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s41885-021-00083-6

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