COVID-19: Where Are All the Health Economists?

August 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on all parts of the economy. Yet, there has not been much uptake of health economics. Reasons suggestive of such lack of engagement include the absence of standardized protocols for evaluating vaccination. In addition, cost estimates are extremely complex and difficult especially because there is no transparency about the costs and spending for the vaccination programs. Furthermore, the public interest focuses mainly on the epidemiological features of the pandemic.

As a first step, health economists should decide on a mutual methodology to determine the perspective of economic analysis and the components of quantifying the benefits and their costs. Furthermore, if one is to rely solely on epidemiological aspects, it is difficult to evaluate the value of a given set of actions and as such, the decision-maker does not have sufficient information to decide how best to allocate limited resources. With public health and clinical experts having done their best to reduce infection rates, it is timely to reflect on what health economists might offer and how to become a proactive partner in advance of, within, and in emerging from such pandemics. Only then will pandemic times also be the time for health economists.

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