No Panic in Pandemic: The Impact of Individual Choice on Public Health Policy and Vaccine Priority

48 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2021 Last revised: 30 Jun 2021

See all articles by Miao Bai

Miao Bai

University of Connecticut

Ying Cui

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Guangwen Kong

Temple University-Fox School of Business

Anthony Zhenhuan Zhang

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Date Written: January 10, 2021

Abstract

Infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19 pose significant public health threats and challenges worldwide due to their high transmissibility and potentially severe symptoms and complications. Although public health interventions such as social distancing and lockdown can slow the disease spread, the disruption to regular economic and social activities caused by these interventions have caused significant financial losses. Strategic planning is required to optimize the timing and intensity of these public health interventions by considering individual response. We derive insightful structural properties of the optimal public health interventions and conduct numerical studies based on representative COVID-19 data in Minnesota. We find that the individual equilibrium activity level is higher than the socially optimal activity level due to an individual’s ignorance of the negative externality imposed on others, with the largest difference at a middle-range disease prevalence. As a result, lockdowns and social distancing policies are more effective when the disease prevalence is not at its peak level. Social distancing is more effective than lockdowns based on the representative COVID-19 data from Minnesota. Moreover, due to the limited vaccine capacity, vaccination priority strategy needs to consider the trade-off between the higher mortality rate of the less active group and the higher negative externality imposed by the more active group. Changes in vaccine production capacity, mortality rate ratio and infection rate may affect vaccination priorities. Lastly, while the vaccine priority to the elderly group is most effective in reducing total deaths, it has to be accompanied with more stringent social distancing policies.

Keywords: COVID-19, dynamic compartmental model, public health policy analysis, game theory, multinomial logit model

Suggested Citation

Bai, Miao and Cui, Ying and Kong, Guangwen and Zhang, Zhenhuan, No Panic in Pandemic: The Impact of Individual Choice on Public Health Policy and Vaccine Priority (January 10, 2021). University of Connecticut School of Business Research Paper No. 21-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3763514 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3763514

Miao Bai

University of Connecticut ( email )

OPIM Dept.
2100 Hillside Road, U1041
Storrs, CT CT 06269-1041
United States

Ying Cui

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities ( email )

420 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Guangwen Kong

Temple University-Fox School of Business ( email )

531 Alter Hall
1801 Liacouras Walk
Philadephia, PA 19122
United States
19122 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.fox.temple.edu/about-fox/directory/guangwen-kong/

Zhenhuan Zhang (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering ( email )

111 Church St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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