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Use of the Elimination Strategy in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Health and Economic Impacts for New Zealand Relative to Other OECD Countries
16 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2021More...
Background: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some countries in the Asia-Pacific Region used very intensive control measures, and one of these, New Zealand (NZ), adopted a clear “elimination strategy”. We therefore aimed to compare key health and economic outcomes of NZ relative to OECD countries as of mid-June 2021.
Methods: This analysis compared health outcomes (cumulative death rates from COVID-19 and “excess death” rates) and economic measures (quarterly GDP and unemployment levels) across OECD countries.
Findings: NZ had the lowest cumulative COVID-19 death rate in the OECD at 242 times lower than the 38-OECD-country average: 5·2 vs 1256 per million population. When considering “excess deaths”, NZ had the largest negative value in the OECD, equivalent to around 2000 fewer deaths than expected. When considering the average GDP change over the five quarters of 2020 to 2021-Q1, NZ was the sixth best performer (at 0·5% vs -0·3% for the OECD average). The increase in unemployment in NZ was also less than the OECD average (1·1 percentage points to a peak of 5·2%, vs 3·3 points to 8·6%, respectively).
Interpretation: NZ’s elimination strategy response to COVID-19 produced the best mortality protection outcomes in the OECD. In economic terms it also performed better than the OECD average in terms of adverse impacts on GDP and employment. Nevertheless, a fuller accounting of the benefits and costs needs to be done once the population is vaccinated and longer-term health and economic outcomes are considered.
Funding Information: Health Research Council of NZ (for two authors).
Declaration of Interests: MB acknowledges funding support from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (20/1066). Nil for others.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation