Optimal Epidemic Suppression Under an ICU Constraint

48 Pages Posted: 20 May 2020

See all articles by Laurent Miclo

Laurent Miclo

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE)

Daniel Spiro

Uppsala University, Dept. of Economics

Jorgen W. Weibull

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

How much and when should we limit economic and social activity to ensure that the health-care system is not overwhelmed during an epidemic? We study a setting where ICU resources are constrained while suppression is costly (e.g., limiting economic interaction). Providing a fully analytical solution we show that the common wisdom of "flattening the curve", where suppression measures are continuously taken to hold down the spread throughout the epidemic, is suboptimal. Instead, the optimal suppression is discountinuous. The epidemic should be left unregulated in a first phase and when the ICU constraint is approaching society should quickly lock down (a discontinuity). After the lockdown regulation should gradually be lifted, holding the rate of infected constant thus respecting the ICU resources while not unnecessarily limiting economic activity. In a final phase, regulation is lifted. We call this strategy "filling the box".

Keywords: Covid-19, corona, epidemic, pandemic, suppression, control optimality, health, infection.

JEL Classification: C610, D600, I180

Suggested Citation

Miclo, Laurent and Spiro, Daniel and Weibull, Jorgen W., Optimal Epidemic Suppression Under an ICU Constraint (2020). CESifo Working Paper No. 8290, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3603847 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3603847

Laurent Miclo (Contact Author)

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) ( email )

Place Anatole-France
Toulouse Cedex, F-31042
France

Daniel Spiro

Uppsala University, Dept. of Economics ( email )

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20
Sweden

Jorgen W. Weibull

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 6501
Sveavagen 65
S-113 83 Stockholm
Sweden

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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