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|The Effect of Large-Scale Anti-Contagion Policies on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic|
Huang, Luna Yue.
|Governments around the world are responding to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with unprecedented policies designed to slow the growth rate of infections. Many actions, such as closing schools and restricting populations to their homes, impose large and visible costs on society. In contrast, the benefits of these policies, in the form of infections that did not occur, cannot be directly observed and are currently understood through process-based simulations. Here, we compile new data on 936 local, regional, and national anti-contagion policies recently deployed in the ongoing pandemic across localities in China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, France, and the United States (US). We then apply reduced-form econometric methods, commonly used to measure the effect of policies on economic growth, to empirically evaluate the effect that these anti-contagion policies have had on the growth rate of infections. In the absence of any policy actions, we estimate that early infections of COVID-19 exhibit exponential growth rates of roughly 45% per day. We find that anti-contagion policies collectively have had significant effects slowing this growth, although policy actions in the US appear to be too recent to have a substantial impact since the magnitude of these effects grows over time. Our results suggest that similar policies may have different impacts on different populations, but we obtain consistent evidence that the policy packages now deployed are achieving large and beneficial health outcomes. We estimate that, to date, current policies have already prevented or delayed on the order of eighty-million infections. These findings may help inform whether or when ongoing policies should be lifted or intensified, and they can support decision-making in the over 150 countries where COVID-19 has been detected but not yet achieved high infection rates.|
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