Pandemics and major outbreaks have the potential to cause large health losses and major economic costs. To prioritize between preventive and responsive interventions, it is important to understand the costs and health losses interventions may prevent. We review the literature, investigating the type of studies performed, the costs and benefits included, and the methods employed against perceived major outbreak threats. We searched PubMed and SCOPUS for studies concerning the outbreaks of SARS in 2003, H5N1 in 2003, H1N1 in 2009, Cholera in Haiti in 2010, MERS-CoV in 2013, H7N9 in 2013, and Ebola in West-Africa in 2014. We screened titles and abstracts of papers, and subsequently examined remaining full-text papers. Data were extracted according to a pre-constructed protocol. We included 34 studies of which the majority evaluated interventions related to the H1N1 outbreak in a high-income setting. Most interventions concerned pharmaceuticals. Included costs and benefits, as well as the methods applied, varied substantially between studies. Most studies used a short time horizon and did not include future costs and benefits. We found substantial variation in the included elements and methods used. Policymakers need to be aware of this and the bias toward high-income countries and pharmaceutical interventions, which hampers generalizability. More standardization of included elements, methodology, and reporting would improve economic evaluations and their usefulness for policy.

, , , ,,
The European Journal of Health Economics
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Kellerborg, K. (Klas), Brouwer, W., & van Baal, P. (2020). Costs and benefits of interventions aimed at major infectious disease threats: lessons from the literature. The European Journal of Health Economics. doi:10.1007/s10198-020-01218-4