Well-being Analysis Favours a Virus-Elimination Strategy for COVID-19
A well-being approach requires looking beyond COVID-19 deaths to compare the performance of elimination versus mitigation strategies as measured by other important supports for well-being. What do the data show? Our comparison based on 2020 data shows a virus elimination strategy to be more successful than other options, whether measured in terms of COVID-19 deaths, overall excess deaths, income, unemployment, trust, or mental and physical health. Countries that chose and followed a strategy of reducing community transmission to zero and keeping it there saved lives and better protected income and employment, all without obvious costs to either the social fabric or the mental health of their populations.
The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or of the National Bureau of Economic Research. We gratefully acknowledge access to data from the Gallup World Poll and a variety of other data sources noted in the text. We are also grateful for helpful comments and suggestions from Alan Budd, Terry Burns, Sarah Coates, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Martine Durand, Maja Eilertsen, Daisy Fancourt, Hania Farhan, Vivek Goel, Len Goff, Dora Gudmundsdottir, Jon Hall, Meredith Harris, Keith Head, Nancy Hey, Sarah Jones, Eric Kim, Richard Layard, Chris McCarty, Ragnhild Nes, Tim Ng, Sharon Paculor, Chris Payne, Rachel Penrod, Kate Pickett, Anita Pugliese, Julie Ray, Bill Robinson, Laura Rosella, Jeff Sachs, Sonia Sachs, Grant Schellenberg, Dawn Snape, Rajesh Srinivasan, Meik Wiking, and Eiji Yamamura.