Cost-Effectiveness of COVID-19 Policy Measures: A Systematic Review [Editor's Choice]



The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on our society, with drastic policy restrictions being implemented to contain the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. This study aimed to provide an overview of the available evidence on the cost-effectiveness of various coronavirus disease 2019 policy measures.


A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science. Health economic evaluations considering both costs and outcomes were included. Their quality was comprehensively assessed using the Consensus Health Economic Criteria checklist. Next, the quality of the epidemiological models was evaluated.


A total of 3688 articles were identified (March 2021), of which 23 were included. The studies were heterogeneous with regard to methodological quality, contextual factors, strategies’ content, adopted perspective, applied models, and outcomes used. Overall, testing/screening, social distancing, personal protective equipment, quarantine/isolation, and hygienic measures were found to be cost-effective. Furthermore, the most optimal choice and combination of strategies depended on the reproduction number and context. With a rising reproduction number, extending the testing strategy and early implementation of combined multiple restriction measures are most efficient.


The quality assessment highlighted numerous flaws and limitations in the study approaches; hence, their results should be interpreted with caution because the specific context (country, target group, etc) is a key driver for cost-effectiveness. Finally, including a societal perspective in future evaluations is key because this pandemic has an indirect impact on the onset and treatment of other conditions and on our global economy.


Sophie Vandepitte Tijs Alleman Ingmar Nopens Jan Baetens Samuel Coenen Delphine De Smedt

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