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Optimal epidemic suppression under an ICU constraint

Author

Listed:
  • Laurent Miclo
  • Daniel Spiro
  • Jorgen Weibull

Abstract

How much and when should we limit economic and social activity to ensure that the health-care system is not overwhelmed during an epidemic? We study a setting where ICU resources are constrained while suppression is costly (e.g., limiting economic interaction). Providing a fully analytical solution we show that the common wisdom of "flattening the curve", where suppression measures are continuously taken to hold down the spread throughout the epidemic, is suboptimal. Instead, the optimal suppression is discontinuous. The epidemic should be left unregulated in a first phase and when the ICU constraint is approaching society should quickly lock down (a discontinuity). After the lockdown regulation should gradually be lifted, holding the rate of infected constant thus respecting the ICU resources while not unnecessarily limiting economic activity. In a final phase, regulation is lifted. We call this strategy "filling the box".

Suggested Citation

  • Laurent Miclo & Daniel Spiro & Jorgen Weibull, 2020. "Optimal epidemic suppression under an ICU constraint," Papers 2005.01327, arXiv.org.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:2005.01327
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Martín Gonzalez-Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2020. "On the Optimal "Lockdown" during an Epidemic," CESifo Working Paper Series 8240, CESifo.
    2. Maryam Farboodi & Gregor Jarosch & Robert Shimer, 2020. "Internal and External Effects of Social Distancing in a Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 27059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. David Berger & Kyle Herkenhoff & Simon Mongey, 2020. "An SEIR Infectious Disease Model with Testing and Conditional Quarantine," Working Papers 2020-017, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    4. Helen J Wearing & Pejman Rohani & Matt J Keeling, 2005. "Appropriate Models for the Management of Infectious Diseases," PLOS Medicine, Public Library of Science, vol. 2(7), pages 1-1, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Gollier, 2020. "If the Objective is Herd Immunity, on Whom Should it be Built?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 76(4), pages 671-683, August.
    2. Martín Gonzalez-Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2020. "Optimally Controlling an Epidemic," CESifo Working Paper Series 8770, CESifo.
    3. Christian Gollier, 2020. "Cost–benefit analysis of age‐specific deconfinement strategies," Post-Print hal-03156641, HAL.
    4. Christian Gollier, 2020. "Pandemic economics: optimal dynamic confinement under uncertainty and learning," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 45(2), pages 80-93, September.
    5. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Kalyan Chatterjee & Kaustav Das & Jaideep Roy, 2020. "Learning or habit formation? Optimal timing of lockdown for disease containment," Discussion Papers 20-17, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    6. Federico, Salvatore & Ferrari, Giorgio, 2020. "Taming the Spread of an Epidemic by Lockdown Policies," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 639, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.
    7. Tommy Andersson & Albin Erlanson & Daniel Spiro & Robert Ostling, 2020. "Optimal Trade-Off Between Economic Activity and Health During an Epidemic," Papers 2005.07590, arXiv.org.
    8. Pollinger, Stefan, 2020. "Optimal Case Detection and Social Distancing Policies to Suppress COVID-19," TSE Working Papers 20-1109, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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