As healthcare systems continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, cost-effectiveness evidence will be needed to identify which tests and treatments for COVID-19 offer value for money. We sought to review economic evaluations of diagnostic tests and treatments for COVID-19, critically appraising the methodological approaches used and reporting cost-effectiveness estimates, using a “living” systematic review approach.
Key databases (including MEDLINE, EconLit, Embase) were last searched on July 12, 2021. Gray literature and model repositories were also searched. Only full economic evaluations published in English were included. Studies were quality assessed and data were extracted into standard tables. Results were narratively summarized. The review was completed by 2 reviewers independently, with disagreements resolved through discussion with a senior reviewer.
Overall, 3540 records were identified, with 13 meeting the inclusion criteria. After quality assessment, 6 were excluded because of very severe limitations. Of the 7 studies included, 5 were cost-utility analyses and 2 were cost-effectiveness analyses. All were model-based analyses. A total of 5 evaluated treatments (dexamethasone, remdesivir, hypothetical) and 2 evaluated hypothetical testing strategies. Cost-effectiveness estimates were sensitive to the treatment effect on survival and hospitalization, testing speed and accuracy, disease severity, and price.
Presently, there are few economic evaluations for COVID-19 tests and treatments. They suggest treatments that confer a survival benefit and fast diagnostic tests may be cost effective. Nevertheless, studies are subject to major evidence gaps and take inconsistent analytical approaches. The evidence may improve for planned updates of this “living” review.
Jamie Elvidge Ashley Summerfield David Nicholls Dalia Dawoud