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Optimal lockdowns for COVID‐19 pandemics: Analyzing the efficiency of sanitary policies in Europe

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  • Ewen Gallic
  • Michel Lubrano
  • Pierre Michel

Abstract

Two main nonpharmaceutical policy strategies have been used in Europe in response to the COVID‐19 epidemic: one aimed at natural herd immunity and the other at avoiding saturation of hospital capacity by crushing the curve. The two strategies lead to different results in terms of the number of lives saved on the one hand and production loss on the other hand. Using a susceptible–infected–recovered–dead model, we investigate and compare these two strategies. As the results are sensitive to the initial reproduction number, we estimate the latter for 10 European countries for each wave from January 2020 till March 2021 using a double sigmoid statistical model and the Oxford COVID‐19 Government Response Tracker data set. Our results show that Denmark, which opted for crushing the curve, managed to minimize both economic and human losses. Natural herd immunity, sought by Sweden and the Netherlands does not appear to have been a particularly effective strategy, especially for Sweden, both in economic terms and in terms of lives saved. The results are more mixed for other countries, but with no evident trade‐off between deaths and production losses.

Suggested Citation

  • Ewen Gallic & Michel Lubrano & Pierre Michel, 2022. "Optimal lockdowns for COVID‐19 pandemics: Analyzing the efficiency of sanitary policies in Europe," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 24(5), pages 944-967, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:24:y:2022:i:5:p:944-967
    DOI: 10.1111/jpet.12556
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    1. Raouf Boucekkine & Andrés Carvajal & Shankha Chakraborty & Aditya Goenka, 2021. "The economics of epidemics and contagious diseases: An introduction," Post-Print hal-03164713, HAL.
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    4. Callum Jones & Thomas Philippon & Venky Venkateswaran, 2021. "Optimal Mitigation Policies in a Pandemic: Social Distancing and Working from Home [A simple planning problem for covid-19 lockdown]," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 34(11), pages 5188-5223.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Higgins & Tarun Sabarwal, 2021. "Control and Spread of Contagion in Networks," WORKING PAPERS SERIES IN THEORETICAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS 202111, University of Kansas, Department of Economics.
    2. Céline Azémar & Rodolphe Desbordes & Paolo Melindi‐Ghidi & Jean‐Philippe Nicolaï, 2022. "Winners and losers of the COVID‐19 pandemic: An excess profits tax proposal," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 24(5), pages 1016-1038, October.
    3. Cerqueti, Roy & Tramontana, Fabio & Ventura, Marco, 2022. "The complex interplay between COVID-19 and economic activity," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 97-107.

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