Since the beginning of the outbreak, the scientific community has worked around the clock to produce evidence to support decision-makers in all aspects of COVID management. As of November 2020, we have over 52,000 articles published in peer reviewed journals and pre-prints (as indexed by collabovid.org). Those unprecedented global collective research efforts already boasts many successes: earlier this week, Pfizer announced that a vaccine showed a 90 percent effectiveness. The RECOVERY trial in the UK found that Dexamethasone, if administered to patients on ventilation or oxygen support, could lead to a significant reduction in 28-day mortality rates. Despite costly early failures, different manufacturers are now also producing rapid test kits to be widely rolled out, especially in low-resource settings.
The response to COVID-19 requires governments to develop and evaluate a vast number of policies and guidance to tackle the outbreak and protect the health of its populations. Health economics can support decision-makers in appraising different investments and policy options, consider tradeoffs, as well as adopt a “whole of health” approach to the response. However, health economics research has been largely missing from this growing literature. This is problematic, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where budget constraint are significant (current health expenditure—from all sources—was less than $30 per person per year in 10 countries according to the WHO GHED database).
Health economics can support with (i) managing the health sector response (e.g. planning for medical supplies and resources to treat COVID patients), (ii) considering tradeoffs between COVID and other health priorities in the health sector, (iii) considering tradeoffs with the wider economy (through the application of cost-benefit analysis, which can be relevant when considering lockdowns and other non-pharmaceutical interventions), and estimating the health impacts of the COVID response using a whole of health approach.
The C19economics.org platform
It has become obvious that many of us will live with COVID for the months ahead. For our work, this means continuation in restrictions of travel, limited face-to-face interactions, and ongoing research or policy work to support planning of the COVID response, under substantial time and political pressure. The C19economics.org platform has been launched to support policymakers (and their advisers) and researchers working on health economics for COVID globally, with a focus on LMICs.
C19Economics.org was created to curate experiences, data, tools and analyses, facilitate the meeting of researchers and decision-makers globally and support health economists generate evidence for policy across settings (with a focus on LMICs) in a demand driven and scientifically robust fashion. The goal is to facilitate the sharing of experiences and provide analysts with access to a focussed set of resources, a space to informally receive peer support and review each other’s work. In addition, the platform aims to provide decision makers and those who advise them with a space to link up with analysts, ask questions about research directly linking to their policy needs, and access summaries of relevant evidence.
To this aim, C19economics.org contains a repository of evidence, an insights page (including summaries, blogposts, and other contributions from our members), and a discussion forum (open to all, sign up required) and will be running regular webinars and events on request from C19economics platform users on research or decision-making. For instance, two webinars have already been lined up: “Macroeconomic and Health Impact of COVID: The Meeting of Two Communities” and “Estimating Clinical Management Costs of Covid-19 in LMICs.”
The goal is to facilitate the sharing of experiences and provide analysts with access to a focussed set of resources, a space to informally receive peer support and review each other’s work. In addition, the platform aims to provide decision makers and those who advise them with a space to link up with analysts, ask questions about research directly linking to their policy needs, and access summaries of relevant evidence.
The beginnings of a community on health economics
Please go to C19economics.org to visit our platform and be connected to other researchers and decision-makers.
C19economics.org has been put together by a group of health economics practitioners, coordinated by the Center for Global Development as part of iDSI (International Decision Support Initiative) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). C19economics.org is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK Aid, and the Wellcome Trust. Partners of the website include UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office and the Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program.