Forslid R, Herzing M
Eur J Health Econ - (-) - [2021-05-06; online 2021-05-06]
This paper analyzes the epidemiological and economic effects of quarantines. We use a basic epidemiological model, a SEIR-model, that is calibrated to roughly resemble the COVID-19 pandemic, and we assume that individuals that become infected or are isolated on average lose a share of their productivity. An early quarantine postpones but does not alter the course of the pandemic at a cost that increases in the duration and the extent of the quarantine. For quarantines at later stages of the pandemic there is a trade-off between lowering the peak level of infectious people on the one hand and minimizing fatalities and economic losses on the other hand. A longer quarantine dampens the peak level of infectious people and also reduces the total number of infected persons but increases economic losses. Both the peak level of infectious individuals and the total share of the population that will have been infected are U-shaped in relation to the share of the population in quarantine, while economic costs increase in this share. In particular, a quarantine covering a moderate share of the population leads to a lower peak, fewer deaths and lower economic costs, but it implies that the peak of the pandemic occurs earlier.