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Are epidemiological indicators misleading under uncertainty? An evaluation and a remedy from an economic perspective

Abstract : Even though much has been learned about the new pathogen SARS-CoV-2 since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of uncertainty remains. In this paper we argue that what is important to know under uncertainty is whether harm accelerates and whether health policies achieve deceleration of harm. For this, we need to see cases in relation to diagnostic effort and not to look at indicators based on cases only, such as a number of widely used epidemiological indicators, including the reproduction number, do. To do so overlooks a crucial dimension, namely the fact that the best we can know about cases will depend on some welldefined strategy of diagnostic effort, such as testing in the case of COVID-19. We will present a newly developed indicator to observe harm, the acceleration index, which is essentially an elasticity of cases in relation to tests. We will discuss what efficiency of testing means and propose that the corresponding health policy goal should be to find ever fewer cases with an ever-greater diagnostic effort. Easy and low-threshold testing will also be a means to give back people’s sovereignty to lead their life in an “open” as opposed to “locked-down” society.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-03153539
Contributor : Elisabeth Lhuillier <>
Submitted on : Friday, February 26, 2021 - 2:35:30 PM
Last modification on : Monday, March 29, 2021 - 2:46:29 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, May 27, 2021 - 6:44:21 PM

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Christelle Baunez, Mickaël Degoulet, Stéphane Luchini, Patrick A. Pintus, Miriam Teschl. Are epidemiological indicators misleading under uncertainty? An evaluation and a remedy from an economic perspective. 2021. ⟨halshs-03153539⟩

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