The economic value of quarantine is higher at lower case prevalence, with quarantine justified at lower risk of infection

James Petrie, Joanna Masel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Some infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 or the influenza pandemic of 1918, are so harmful that they justify broad-scale social distancing. Targeted quarantine can reduce the amount of indiscriminate social distancing needed to control transmission. Finding the optimal balance between targeted versus broad-scale policies can be operationalized by minimizing the total amount of social isolation needed to achieve a target reproductive number. Optimality is achieved by quarantining on the basis of a risk threshold that depends strongly on current disease prevalence, suggesting that very different disease control policies should be used at different times or places. Aggressive quarantine is warranted given low disease prevalence, while populations with a higher base rate of infection should rely more on social distancing by all. The total value of a quarantine policy rises as case counts fall, is relatively insensitive to vaccination unless the vaccinated are exempt from distancing policies, and is substantially increased by the availability of modestly more information about individual risk of infectiousness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20210459
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Volume18
Issue number182
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 8 2021

Keywords

  • SARS-CoV-2
  • control theory
  • economic epidemiology
  • exposure notification
  • risk management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering

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