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Impacts of COVID-19: Mitigation Efforts versus Herd Immunity

Author

Listed:
  • Karen A. Kopecky
  • Tao Zha

Abstract

The rapid spread of COVID-19 is having devastating effects on the global economy. With death curves beginning to bend, governments will soon need to determine when and how to relax lockdown measures. The crucial question is: what are the public health consequences of reopening the economy? In this article, we argue that the observed decline in daily deaths could be due to two scenarios: social distancing measures and herd immunity. Both the widely used SIR model and the data collected thus far cannot distinguish these two scenarios. Such an identification problem generates a large degree of uncertainty about the public health consequences of restarting the economy. Comprehensive testing can help resolve this uncertainty by quickly and accurately identifying new cases so that future outbreaks could be contained by isolation and contact tracing measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Karen A. Kopecky & Tao Zha, 2020. "Impacts of COVID-19: Mitigation Efforts versus Herd Immunity," Policy Hub 2020-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:a00001:87864
    DOI: 10.29338/ph2020-03
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    File URL: https://www.frbatlanta.org/-/media/documents/research/publications/policy-hub/2020/04/17/impacts-of-covid-19-mitigation-efforts-versus-herd-immunity.pdf
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    Citations

    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Covid-19 > Health > Herd immunity

    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; social distancing; identification problem; death curve; lockdown; herd immunity; reopening the economy; testing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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