Costing the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Exploratory Economic Evaluation of Hypothetical Suppression Policy in the United Kingdom

Darshan Zala*, Iris Mosweu, Simone Critchlow, Renee Romeo, Paul McCrone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study aims to cost and calculate the relative cost-effectiveness of the hypothetical suppression policies found in the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team model. Methods: Key population-level disease projections in deaths, intensive care unit bed days, and non–intensive care unit bed days were taken from the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team report of March 2020, which influenced the decision to introduce suppression policies in the United Kingdom. National income loss estimates were from a study that estimated the impact of a hypothetical pandemic on the UK economy, with sensitivity analyses based on projections that are more recent. Individual quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) loss and costed resource use inputs were taken from published sources. Results: Imperial model projected suppression polices compared to an unmitigated pandemic, even with the most pessimistic national income loss scenarios under suppression (10%), give incremental cost-effectiveness ratios below £50 000 per QALY. Assuming a maximum reduction in national income of 7.75%, incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for Imperial model projected suppression versus mitigation are below 60 000 per QALY. Conclusions: Results are uncertain and conditional on the accuracy of the Imperial model projections; they are also sensitive to estimates of national income loss. Nevertheless, it would be difficult to claim that the hypothetical Imperial model–projected suppression policies are obviously cost-ineffective relative to the alternatives available. Despite evolving differences between government policy and Imperial model–projected suppression policy, it is hoped this article will provide some early insight into the trade-offs that are involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1432-1437
Number of pages6
JournalValue in Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • coronavirus
  • cost-effectiveness
  • COVID-19
  • economic evaluation
  • mitigation
  • suppression
  • United Kingdom


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