Archive for the Health Category

Great expectations: The Darwinian wars of economic and epidemiological forecasting

Great expectations: The Darwinian wars of economic and epidemiological forecasting

A key concept in modern economics is, to use the jargon term, rational expectations. The idea has dominated orthodox macroeconomics over the past 30 years. Not all economists have been persuaded of its merits by any means, but nevertheless, its influence has extended far beyond academia, into

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Why you should read the small print on alarmist Covid-19 death projections

Why you should read the small print on alarmist Covid-19 death projections

Another day, another lurid, headline-grabbing number of deaths to expect from Covid-19. This time, it was a study from the Academy of Medical Sciences. A second wave, we were warned, could kill 120,000 this winter in hospitals alone. To be fair, this study was a projection rather

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The costs of lockdown could far outweigh the benefits

The costs of lockdown could far outweigh the benefits

Radical leaders such as Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand and Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland have gained plaudits through their relentless focus on eliminating Covid-19. But this comes at an obvious economic cost. Tourism is some 15 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP, and major destinations such as

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The government should have been working on multiple tracing apps all along

The government should have been working on multiple tracing apps all along

The NHS contract tracing app has been scrapped in favour of a system developed by Google and Apple. Although health secretary Matt Hancock has been heavily criticised for this failure, the UK is by no means alone. For example, Denmark, Germany and Italy each tried to build

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What can we learn from the Black Death? Be prepared, trust entrepreneurs, and have faith

What can we learn from the Black Death? Be prepared, trust entrepreneurs, and have faith

Can we learn from history? An excellent book by Ben Gummer on the Black Death in fourteenth century Britain, The Scourging Angel, shows that we can. Published 10 years ago, the book offers many intriguing parallels with the Covid-19 crisis. Of course, the Black Death was almost

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Mythbusting coronavirus is vital for life to go back to normal

Mythbusting coronavirus is vital for life to go back to normal

As the government plans the timetable for getting Britain back to work, opinion polls continue to show strong support for the lockdown. An Opinium poll at the weekend is typical. Unsurprisingly, given the overwhelming scientific evidence on dangers associated with large gatherings, a massive 84 per cent

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Coronavirus: Fake news that an elderly lockdown is remainer revenge could spread

Coronavirus: Fake news that an elderly lockdown is remainer revenge could spread

The attention of policy makers has been focused on the science of how viruses either spread or are contained in social networks. Just as crucial in the current circumstances is the spread of beliefs and behaviour. Will people continue to observe social distancing once the lockdown is

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Coronavirus: Economists have a role to play in recovery

Coronavirus: Economists have a role to play in recovery

Lockdowns are starting to be eased in Europe. Austria, Denmark, Italy and Spain are all moving back towards normality. At some point during May, the UK will follow. We can reflect on what the government has got right and wrong so far in the opening phase of

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Once we reach a social distancing tipping point, more restrictions won’t help at all

Once we reach a social distancing tipping point, more restrictions won’t help at all

How long should the lockdown last? Should it be tightened or relaxed? An abstract concept from both epidemiology and network theory can give a powerful insight into these highly practical problems. This is the concept known as the “threshold”, sometimes called the critical point or the tipping

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To pay for this crisis, the government must keep in mind Ricardian equivalence

To pay for this crisis, the government must keep in mind Ricardian equivalence

John Maynard Keynes could certainly craft a neat phrase. In the Second World War, he wrote in his pamphlet How to Pay for the War: “It is only in a free community that the task of government is complicated by the cause of social justice.” The impact

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