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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 2021

See all articles by Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson

University of Otago - Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity and Cost-Effectiveness Programme

Leah Grout

University of Otago - Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity and Cost-Effectiveness Programme

Jennifer Summers

University of Otago - Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity and Cost-Effectiveness Programme

Nhung Nghiem

University of Otago - University of Otago Wellington

Michael Baker

University of Otago - Department of Public Health

More...

Abstract

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

Wilson, Nick and Grout, Leah and Summers, Jennifer and Nghiem, Nhung and Baker, Michael, Use of the Elimination Strategy in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Health and Economic Impacts for New Zealand Relative to Other OECD Countries (6/25/2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3875655 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3875655

Nick Wilson (Contact Author)

University of Otago - Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity and Cost-Effectiveness Programme ( email )

New Zealand

Leah Grout

University of Otago - Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity and Cost-Effectiveness Programme

New Zealand

Jennifer Summers

University of Otago - Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity and Cost-Effectiveness Programme ( email )

New Zealand

Nhung Nghiem

University of Otago - University of Otago Wellington

Wellington
New Zealand

Michael Baker

University of Otago - Department of Public Health ( email )

P.O. Box 56
Dunedin, Otago 9010
New Zealand

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