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Economic burden of COVID-19, China, January–March, 2020: a cost-of-illness study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Huajie Jin, Haiyin Wang, Xiao Li, Weiwei Zheng, Shanke Ye, Sheng Zhang, Jiahui Zhou, Mark Pennington

Original languageEnglish
JournalBulletin of the World Health Organization
E-pub ahead of print12 Sep 2020


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    Uploaded date:09 Dec 2020

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Objective To estimate the economic cost of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) in 31 provincial-level administrative regions and in total, in China.

Methods We used data from government reports, clinical guidelines and other publications to estimate the main cost components of COVID-19 during 1 January–31 March 2020. These components were: identification and diagnosis of close contacts; suspected cases and confirmed cases of COVID-19; treatment of COVID-19 cases; compulsory quarantine of close contacts and suspected cases; and productivity losses for all affected residents. Primary outcomes were total health-care and societal costs.

Findings The total estimated health-care and societal costs associated with COVID-19 were 4.26 billion Chinese yuan (¥; 0.62 billion United States dollars, US$) and ¥ 2646.70 billion (US$ 383.02 billion), respectively. Inpatient care accounted for 44.2% (¥ 0.95 billion/¥ 2.15 billion) of routine health-care costs followed by medicines, accounting for 32.5% (¥ 0.70 billion/¥ 2.15 billion). Productivity losses accounted for 99.8% (¥ 2641.61 billion/¥ 2646.70 billion) of societal costs, which were mostly attributable to the effect of movement-restriction policies on people who did not have COVID-19. Societal costs were most sensitive to salary costs and number of working days lost due to movement-restriction policies. Hubei province had the highest health-care cost while Guangdong province had the highest societal cost.

Conclusion Our results highlight the high economic burden of the COVID-19 outbreak in China. The control measures to prevent the spread of disease resulted in substantial costs from productivity losses amounting to 2.7% (US$ 382.29 billion/US$ 14.14 trillion) of China’s annual gross domestic product.

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