Vaccination is among the most successful public health measures available to society. In addition to preventing diseases, it dramatically reduces healthcare costs. In the case of the Covid-19 pandemics these costs can be quite significant. According to Fair Health – an independent non-profit organization that manages the US largest database of privately billed health insurance claims – the average cost of hospital care for COVID-19 patients varies from $51,389 for patients aged between 21 and 40 to $78,569 for patients between 41 and 60. In Europe, these costs are typically covered by the National Health Systems (NHS), but even in the USA the costs borne by the government are substantial.
Jabs are the way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK, US, and Israel have made much progress with their vaccination programmes. In continental Europe, however, life-saving vaccine doses are scarce – partly due to the EU’s unfortunate purchasing policy. In light of the scarce vaccines and of the suffering caused by the virus, it is necessary to distribute the existing doses efficiently. It is becoming increasingly evident that the first shot already offers high protection against serious illness and frequently avoids fatal consequences. All existing doses should thus be used to distribute first shots and provide basic protection to as many people as possible.
Gallup conducted a panel survey in the very days the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was certified as effective. According to the survey, only 63% of Americans agree to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Things are similar in other Western countries. An article published by Nature Medicine last October (Jeffrey V. Lazarus et al, A global survey of potential acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine) surveyed 13,426 people in 19 countries, and examined potential acceptance rates and factors influencing acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. Only 71.5% of participants reported that they would be likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine.
Good news in the fight against the Corona pandemic have accompanied us during the last few weeks. On November 8th, the Mainz-based pharmaceutical company BioNTech and its American partner Pfizer announced that their vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in the decisive third round of tests. Exactly one week later, the US-based company Moderna presented similar promising data. The duo became a trio a week later: AstraZeneca also reported that its phase-3 tests were successful.
Central banks are exploring new monetary policies. Unconventional ones, of course. The Bank of England (BoE) has recently announced one of such attempts. Although the main concern remains how to manage a negative-interest-rates environment, BoE Chief Economist A. Haldane most interestingly mentions the expansion of the scope of the bank’s asset-purchase plan to include risky securities.
Last February, this website hosted an article titled «The unintended consequences of coronavirus». At the time the article was published, the situation was not at all dramatic in Europe. For example, the official Covid-19 figures in Italy and Germany mentioned very limited number of cases. Governments were confident that everything would be under control, as witnessed by the fact that on February 15, two tons of medical equipment were shipped to China.
The damages caused to individuals and businesses by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic are so vast that it will be almost impossible to make an accurate estimate of them. However, if those who contributed to such destruction can be called to account for it, by way of civil liability, the injured parties will obtain justice, and the damaging economic consequences will fall on those responsible. Instead, if internalizing the damage proves impossible, the deadweight loss will remain in the hands of entirely blameless victims.
In a new IREF Working Paper, David Stadelmann (Bayreuth University and IREF) and his co-authors discuss how the corona epidemic can be made less burdensome. They focus on the role of those who are immune after recovering from the illness and do not pose any health risks to others. The authors point to corona immunity as a resource that should be searched, found, produced, certified, and finally employed to ease the way out of the lockdown.
While all of the former socialist economies have liberalised and strengthened their markets over the past two decades, they have failed to strengthen the rule of law (see Table 1). Under socialism, legal systems are not designed to protect the rights of individuals. Instead, they serve the interests of the political elite. To that end, judges, prosecutors, and other judicial officials are trained and expected to cater to those interests. Most worrisome, some of the former socialist economies have even seen the weakening of the rule of law in the last few years.