Public policy and economic dynamics of COVID-19 spread: a mathematical modeling study
Background: With the COVID-19 pandemic infecting millions of people, largescale quarantine policies have been enacted across the globe. Understanding how to maximize the effectiveness of these policies while mitigating economic damage is essential. We develop a mathematical model with different levels of population health and economic risk to assess the impact of quarantine measures on deaths, hospitalizations, and economic output. Methods: We combine an extended SEIR model that has multiple
... hat has multiple levels of health risk and economic vulnerability with disease parameters for the COVID19 pandemic to study the effects of quarantine policies. We examine the dynamics of infectious disease transmission and its economic impact for one year. We populate our model with a baseline of 95.6 % of high-risk people and 85.6 % of low-risk people in quarantine. We use our model to simulate leaving the current quarantine restrictions in place indefinitely. We then assess a policy where quarantine restrictions for lower-risk groups are gradually relaxed. Finally, we simulate relaxing quarantine restrictions more quickly. To compare outbreak outcomes under the same quarantine policies using different disease parameters, we also perform a sensitivity analysis on the contagiousness of infected people, the strictness of social isolation measures, and the amount that public policymakers value the economy in setting quarantine restrictions. Findings: We first consider a baseline scenario with constant quarantine level, finding that in a population of 330,000,000 million, there are 32,023 deaths among those under 60 and 174,682 deaths among those over 60, there is a peak of 189,136 hospitalizations, and the economy relative to the beginning of the quarantine state is 1.4 % smaller. In the scenario where higher-risk people are strictly quarantined, and for others the quarantine is slowly relaxed, there are 63,776 deaths among those under 60, 85,880 deaths among those over 60, a peak of 341,321 hospitalizations, and the economy relative to the beginning of the quarantine state is 6% larger. In the scenario where quarantine is more quickly lifted, there are 25,720 deaths among those under 60, 214,718 deaths among those over 60, a peak of 341,321 hospitalizations, and economic output relative to the beginning of the quarantine state is 4.5 % smaller. Interpretation: Strict restrictions on high-risk patients and a gradual lifting of quarantine for low-risk patients results in a limited number of deaths and lesser economic damage. We recommend this kind of strategy, combined with policies lowering the contagiousness of the disease and making quarantine more tolerable and economically viable for individuals.