Media Release: New report quantifies the wellbeing costs of Covid-19
Wellington, 9 April - A new report Quantifying the wellbeing costs of Covid-19 by the New Zealand Initiative shows how an economic hit of about 6.1% of GDP would be justified if it meant saving 33,600 lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The figures, compiled by research fellow Dr Bryce Wilkinson, were generated by updating a Ministry of Health model from 2017 and plugging in the available data on Covid-19.
The 2017 model ran its calculations with data from the 1918 Spanish flu.
While putting a value on a human life is a tricky subject, it is necessary to understand the correct policy proposals and trade-offs when dealing with a crisis.
When modelling the economic costs of a pandemic like Covid-19, Dr Wilkinson found that around 6.1% of GDP would be justified if it meant saving 33,600 lives
Equally, about 3.7% of GDP would be justified if 12,600 lives could be saved.
“Evaluating this trade-off is essential for good policy advice and decision-making, such as lockdown decisions and border closures,” Dr Wilkinson said.
“There is currently a dearth of published estimates to inform public debate.”
The research note Quantifying the wellbeing costs of Covid-19 neither critiques the adjusted 2017 model, nor treats it as authoritative. It simply reports the results of running the Covid-19 data through the model as a contribution to public debate.
Dr Wilkinson hopes it will encourage the Government and researchers to provide better estimates as the crisis continues to evolve.
Quantifying the wellbeing costs of Covid-19 is available here.
Dr Bryce Wilkinson is available for comments. To schedule an interview, please contact:
Linda Heerink, Communications Officer
P: 021 172 8036