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Publication . Article . Preprint . 2021

Are epidemiological indicators misleading under uncertainty? An evaluation and a remedy from an economic perspective

Christelle Baunez; Mickael Degoulet; Stéphane Luchini; Patrick A. Pintus; Miriam Teschl;
Open Access
Published: 20 Feb 2021
Publisher: HAL CCSD
Country: France
Even though much has been learned about the new pathogen SARS-CoV-2 since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of uncertainty remains. In this paper we argue that what is important to know under uncertainty is whether harm accelerates and whether health policies achieve deceleration of harm. For this, we need to see cases in relation to diagnostic effort and not to look at indicators based on cases only, such as a number of widely used epidemiological indicators, including the reproduction number, do. To do so overlooks a crucial dimension, namely the fact that the best we can know about cases will depend on some welldefined strategy of diagnostic effort, such as testing in the case of COVID-19. We will present a newly developed indicator to observe harm, the acceleration index, which is essentially an elasticity of cases in relation to tests. We will discuss what efficiency of testing means and propose that the corresponding health policy goal should be to find ever fewer cases with an ever-greater diagnostic effort. Easy and low-threshold testing will also be a means to give back people’s sovereignty to lead their life in an “open” as opposed to “locked-down” society.
Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Test strategy Health policy Actuarial science Dimension (data warehouse) Perspective (graphical) Reproduction (economics) Economics Relation (database) Harm Sovereignty


uncertainty, acceleration index, anti-fragility, reproduction factor, test strategy, sovereignty, [SHS.ECO]Humanities and Social Sciences/Economics and Finance

Funded by
Aix-Marseille School of Economics
  • Funder: French National Research Agency (ANR) (ANR)
  • Project Code: ANR-17-EURE-0020
Related to Research communities
Social Science and Humanities
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