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Act Early to Prevent Infections and Save Lives: Causal Impact of Diagnostic Efficiency on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Simiao Chen, Zhangfeng Jin () and David E. Bloom ()
Additional contact information
Simiao Chen: Harvard School of Public Health
David E. Bloom: Harvard University

No 13749, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: This paper examines the impact of diagnostic efficiency on the COVID-19 pandemic. Using an exogenous policy on diagnostic confirmation, we show that a one- day decrease in the time taken to confirm the first case in a city publicly led to 9.4% and 12.7% reductions in COVID-19 prevalence and mortality over the subsequent six months, respectively. The impact is larger for cities that are farther from the COVID-19 epicenter, are exposed to less migration, and have more responsive public health systems. Social distancing and a less burdened health system are likely the underlying mechanisms, while the latter also explains the more profound impact on reducing deaths than reducing infections.

Keywords: diagnostic efficiency; information disclosure; social distancing; COVID-19; China; instrumental variable (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D83 H75 I12 I18 J61 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 51 pages
Date: 2020-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna, nep-dem and nep-hea
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Working Paper: Act Early to Prevent Infections and Save Lives: Causal Impact of Diagnostic Efficiency on the COVID-19 Pandemic (2021) Downloads
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