Working Papers

Consideration of Trade-offs Regarding COVID-19 Containment Measures in the United States: Implications for Canada

Mayvis Rebeira, Eric Nauenberg

The economic stimulus package in the United States, which totaled $2.48 trillion, was designed to soften the economic impact of sweeping containment measures including shelter-in-place orders that were put in place to control the COVID-19 pandemic. In healthcare, interventions are rarely justified simply in terms of the number of lives saved but also in terms of a myriad of other trade-off factors including value-for-money or cost-effectiveness. The data suggest the incremental costs per life-year gained related to the economic shutdown can span a wide range depending on the baseline number of deaths in the absence of any containment measures. The results show that in the US, under no scenario for life-years gained does the stimulus package compare favourably to other healthcare interventions that have had favourable cost-effectiveness profiles. However, when comparing value-of-statistical-life-year (VSLY) threshold measures used in other sectors, it is plausible that the stimulus package could be viewed more favourably in the US.

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Paper Keywords

cost-effectiveness, economic stimulus, pandemic, COVID-19, trade-offs