EconTalk — Paul Romer (2)

On: COVID-19

Episode: N/A

Date: May 15 2020

Background: Economist.

Key Subjects:

  • Finding a sustainable, less costly strategy to reduce virus transmission.
    • Suppression: lock-down is very costly (economic costs not sustainable).
    • Mitigation: transmission is very slow (> 1 year for the virus to spread through population).
  • Long-term high level of costs can undermine democratic system, rule of law.
    • Immediate fiscal costs, reduced economic activity, mental burden, hardship.
  • Alternative reasonably low-cost strategy: wide-spread testing.
    • Better information -> better behavior (no infection: work, infection: isolation).
    • Incentivize: production, testing and post-test behavior (rewards, lotteries, etc.)
    • Testing infrastructure to provide protection from future viruses as well.
    • Issues: reliability of tests, supply chain, chain of custody, scaling up, frequency of testing.
  • Most people (not all) will do the right thing.
    • If you just let people know information, they generally will do things and it turns out okay.
  • Don’t rush vaccination.
    • If it doesn’t go well, risk losing consensus on other mandatory vaccinations.

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