COVID-19 Health Economics: Looking Back and Scoping the Future [Editor's Choice]
As of March 2022, nearly 6 million people have died of COVID-19 globally.1 The COVID-19 pandemic has already gone through several distinct stages during the first 2 years, with noticeable health and health economics impact at each stage. The initial emergency stage resulted in lockdowns that incurred enormous societal costs, concerning gross domestic product reductions as well as (mental) health damages. Diagnostic tests were implemented on a never-before-seen scale in many healthcare systems, without health economics justification, 2, 3 as exemplified in a systematic review in this themed section.4 In the second stage, vaccines were introduced in Western countries without the general health economic considerations that generally apply in evaluations of country-specific national immunization technological advisory groups.5 In the third stage, health economic considerations on emerging treatments remain scarce, as we previously addressed in a previous Value in Health–themed section on COVID-19. 6 The recent Omicron variant—potentially associated with less severe disease—resulted in a different phase in the pandemic, with emergency actions being replaced by considerate actions inclusive of health economic considerations. This themed section aims to look back on the abovementioned issues from a health economics point of view and identify emerging topics in COVID-19 health economics.
Maarten J. Postma Jagpreet Chhatwal