Costing the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Exploratory Economic Evaluation of Hypothetical Suppression Policy in the United Kingdom



This study aims to cost and calculate the relative cost-effectiveness of the hypothetical suppression policies found in the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team model.


Key population-level disease projections in deaths, intensive care unit bed days, and non–intensive care unit bed days were taken from the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team report of March 2020, which influenced the decision to introduce suppression policies in the United Kingdom. National income loss estimates were from a study that estimated the impact of a hypothetical pandemic on the UK economy, with sensitivity analyses based on projections that are more recent. Individual quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) loss and costed resource use inputs were taken from published sources.


Imperial model projected suppression polices compared to an unmitigated pandemic, even with the most pessimistic national income loss scenarios under suppression (10%), give incremental cost-effectiveness ratios below £50 000 per QALY. Assuming a maximum reduction in national income of 7.75%, incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for Imperial model projected suppression versus mitigation are below 60 000 per QALY.


Results are uncertain and conditional on the accuracy of the Imperial model projections; they are also sensitive to estimates of national income loss. Nevertheless, it would be difficult to claim that the hypothetical Imperial model–projected suppression policies are obviously cost-ineffective relative to the alternatives available. Despite evolving differences between government policy and Imperial model–projected suppression policy, it is hoped this article will provide some early insight into the trade-offs that are involved.


Darshan Zala Iris Mosweu Simone Critchlow Renee Romeo Paul McCrone

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